If you have been injured in an accident that was caused by a boater’s negligence, one of the things an experienced boating accident lawyer will look for when helping you seek compensation is whether the operator of the vessel filed a written boating accident report.
What Is a Written Boating Accident Report?
Both federal and state laws required the reporting of boating accidents in certain circumstances. A written boating accident report is a required notification to law enforcement agencies, including the Division of Law Enforcement, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the local county sheriff’s department, or local municipal police department when an accident has occurred.
Any of the above-mentioned agencies can accept the written report, and Florida’s laws require reporters to use the quickest method possible.
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What Sort of Information Must Be Included in the Written Boating Accident Report?
The information provided in a Florida written boating accident report includes:
- Informing whether there was death, serious bodily injury, or damages to boats, structures, or property over $2,000
- The full name, address, and phone number of the reporting party
- An accident summary including date, time, location, and details of who was involved, injured, and what damages were sustained
- The identification information of the boat involved, including make, model, year, hull identification number, the type of engine, the safety features included on the vessel, the number of life jackets and fire extinguishers onboard
- External conditions, including water conditions and weather
- Contributing factors to the accident that were present on your boat
- The contact information of all witnesses to the accident
When Must a Boating Accident Report Be Filed?
There are five certain circumstances when a written boating accident report must be filed in Florida:
- Someone died as a result of the accident.
- Someone disappeared in the water during the accident.
- Someone suffered a bodily injury serious enough to require immediate medical attention.
- There was at least $2,000 damage to structures or personal property.
- At least one boat sustained at least $2,000 in damage.
Is There a Time Limit for Filing a Boating Accident Report?
Federal law requires that boating accident reports be made within 48 hours after the accident if there is a death, bodily injury, or someone goes missing in the water. A report must be made within ten days when there has been an accident involving damages to boats, structures, or personal property that is at least $2,000.
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What Types of Accidents Could Create the Need for a Report?
A boating accident that could necessitate filing a written boating accident report includes any type of accident involving at least one boat in or while entering or exiting the water. The accident could also involve factors such as:
- A collision with another boat, either occupied or unoccupied
- The vessel colliding with a structure
- A vessel that has capsized
- Accidents involving injuries to riders of jet skis, water skiers, or swimmers.
Do I Have to File a Boating Accident Report in Order to Seek Compensation for My Injuries?
If you are the operator of a boat that has been involved in an accident, and the accident resulted in injuries, you must file a boating report. However, filing the report has nothing to do with who was liable for the injuries you suffered. It is simply the required notification of the accident to the appropriate law enforcement agency, which will begin that agency’s investigation into how the accident occurred.
The details of the law enforcement’s investigation will become part of the police report of the accident. This police report will then be made available to requesting parties and the details of the report can be used as evidence in a civil claim for compensation.
Why Does My Attorney Need to Know If a Written Boating Accident Report Was Filed?
If you were the reporting party, the written boating accident report that you submitted will help to establish the facts of the accident and further show that you were following reporting regulations. Likewise, whether a negligent boat operator filed the written report as required can help establish evidence as to their behavior around the time of the accident and their attitude toward the duty to follow boating laws in order to protect the safety of others.
In order to show who was liable (legally responsible) for the expenses and impacts you incurred as a result of the boating accident, you and your attorney must be able to show the following elements in your claim:
- The boat operator owed you a duty of care to behave in a manner that would protect your safety and the safety of your property.
- There was a breach in this duty caused by the boat operator’s failure to take reasonable care.
- This breach caused the boating accident in which you were injured.
If There Are Two Boats Involved in the Accident, Do Both Operators Have to File a Report?
Yes. Every boat operator who is involved in an accident must file a report within either two or ten days, depending on the circumstances of the accident.
What If the Boat Operator Involved in the Accident Fled the Scene?
If the boat operator fled the scene, the accident still must be reported to law enforcement, along with contact information for any witnesses and any description of the vessel or the operator that can assist them in determining the identity of the boat operator.
How Can Andrew Pickett Law Help Me with My Boating Accident Claim?
The experienced legal team at Andrew Pickett Law can provide a number of legal services to assist you with your Florida boating accident claim, including helping you to file your written boating accident report if you have not yet done so. Other services include:
- Establishing evidence to prove liability for the expenses and impacts of your injury
- Determining a value to your claim
- Determining available insurance resources that can be used to compensate you
- Litigating your case in court or negotiating an out-of-court settlement
- Assisting you in collecting your award or settlement
To learn more about the legal process of seeking compensation for your injuries, contact us today.