When it comes to boating accidents in Florida, it’s true that only some will need to be reported. For minor scrapes and taps where the biggest damage is the paintwork, these don’t normally need to be reported. If we look at the US Coast Guard statistics for 2015, they received around 740 accident calls, and this generally means that it met one of the requirements below;
- A passenger/operator was seriously injured and needed emergency care
- A passenger/operator was killed
- The vessel itself was damaged extensively
- A passenger/operator went missing
- Total damage exceeded $2,000
Filing a Boating Accident Report
If you’ve been involved in a boating accident and one of the five statements above applies, you’ll need to file a report. Found online, the United States Coast Guard Recreational Boating Accident Report form is actually incredibly simple…it just takes a little time. You’ll need to note;
- A description of the accident
- Whether anybody was injured or killed
- The extent of the damage to the boat
- The location and timing of the incident
- The number of passengers on board
- Cause of the accident (if known)
As well as accident information, the report will also require you to submit information about your boat; such as model, make, ID numbers, and more.
At this stage, we reach the section that many people struggle to fill out; conditions when the boating accident occurred. You’ll need to think back and try to remember the water conditions, weather, whether your equipment was working as expected (note any known failures), and anything else that could have contributed to the accident. With this last one, this includes speeding, alcohol, drugs, and anything distracting the operator from doing their job properly.
Contact a Boating Accident Attorney
While you can fill out the form alone, we recommend getting in touch with The Injury Firm if anything you write on the report could be incriminating. For example, if there was alcohol and/or drug use at the time of the incident. Boating accidents and the associated reports have a very quick timescale, so you’ll need to report quickly. While property damage allows 10 days for a report, you’ll only have 48 hours after a death/serious injury so get in touch with a reliable attorney immediately.
Boating Accidents: Recovering Damages
When it comes to boating accidents, the question of whether you can recover damages is a difficult one. Unlike on the road, apportioning blame is difficult because it’s not as if one boat ‘switched lanes’ or ‘didn’t indicate while turning’. Sure, one boat might be speeding, but the other may not have been paying enough attention. In this case, both might take some of the blame.
Alternatively, a boat may have caused a large wake. Yet, operators of vessels on the water are taught to be aware at all times. What happens here? Well, it could depend on the size of the wake and whether or not the incident took place in a no-wake zone.
Florida and Pure Comparative Negligence
If you’ve been in a boating accident and feel it wasn’t your fault, we would never want to steer you away from claiming because you could be entitled to damages. In Florida, we use what’s called ‘pure comparative negligence’. This means that the damages you receive will be discounted if you played a small role in the boating accident yourself.
As an example, let’s say the judge rewards $15,000 in compensation. However, you are 20% responsible for the accident. Rather than being awarded nothing, it means you’ll get $12,000; $15,000 – $3,000 (20%).
Judging Boating Accidents
With no cameras and no extensive laws, many boating accident cases come down to the strength of one’s case. If you partner with an experienced attorney, like The Injury Firm, you’ll be able to build a strong case and allow the opinion of the judge to lean in YOUR favor.
Over the years, we’ve handled numerous boating accident cases and allowed compensation to reach those who deserve it. As well as following the correct procedures, we also know the common mistakes to avoid. If you want to learn more, get in touch today and one of our fantastic team members will answer your questions!