September 16, 2013

Boating Accident Form CG-3865

Under federal law, the operator of a vessel must file a boating
accident report with the appropriate state authority if any one
of the conditions listed below occurs. If the operator is killed,
or so seriously injured that he or she is not able to complete
the report, the owner of the vessel must do so.

▪ Someone is killed
▪ Someone disappears from the vessel and the
circumstances indicate death or injury
▪ Some is injured and requires medical treatment beyond
first aid
▪ Damage to vessels/property is $2,000 or more (some
jurisdictions use lower legal threshold)
▪ The vessel is destroyed

Some of the information required for the boating accident
report includes the particulars about the incident. When did it
occur? Where did it occur? Provide a description of how it
took place. The form is some six pages long, so it goes into
considerable detail. It requests details about the the owner’s
vessel. Who was the manufacturer? What was the size? What
was the material? Was it a sailboat, open motorboat, cabin
motorboat, canoe, kayak, rowboat, pontoon boat, personal
watercraft (Jet Ski, Sea Doo, Wave Runner)? The information
requested is very detailed, and covers weather and water
conditions. The form is but one of the things necessary to do
after an accident on the water. See
 What To Do in a Boating
Accident for other recommendations.

The section on contributing factors doesn’t leave too many
stones unturned. It covers so many issues that cause boating
accidents, sometimes in conjunction with one another. The list
is exhaustive, and includes the following:

▪ Alcohol Use*
▪ Drug Use
▪ Excessive Speed
▪ Improper Anchoring
▪ Improper Loading
▪ Overloading
▪ Improper Lookout
▪ Operator Inattention
▪ Operator Inexperience
▪ Language Barrier
▪ Navigational Rules Violation
▪ Failure to Vent
▪ Dam/Lock
▪ Force of Wake
▪ Force of Wave
▪ Hazardous Waters
▪ Heavy Weather
▪ Ignition of Fuel of Vapor
▪ Hull Failure
▪ Starting in Gear
▪ Sharp Turn
▪ Restricted Vision (due to conditions such as fog)
▪ Inadequate Aids to Navigation, such as a buoy or daymarker
▪ Inadequate onboard navigation lights
▪ People on gunwhale, bow, or transom

The form is also extremely detailed and comprehensive in its
list of ways in which the accident might have arisen. In the
aftermath of a boating accident, many exhibits of evidence can
be entered, including forensic analysis, marine surveys,
electronic evidence, as well as official reports. To obtain a
download of the boating accident form, designated CG-3865,
click the following link for the
U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety
Resource Center.

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