Back to Recreational Boating Accidents
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My wish to all recreational boaters out
there is for safe and carefree days of
boating…enjoying your powerboats,
sailboats, kayaks, canoes, waterskiing, jet
skis, wave runners, personal watercraft,
windsurfers with great pleasure. I hope
you get out there enough to make winter
storage, mooring fees and launch service
worth all the expense. I hope you
experience the thrill of introducing a child
or non-boater to taking the helm
underway. And I hope you never
experience a boating accident.

And it shouldn’t be that difficult to AVOID
a boating learning boating
safety, familiarizing yourself with your
equipment, studying local charts,
reviewing the rules of the road, exercising
good judgment, using common sense,
being considerate and courteous to other
boaters…all these things should give you
pretty decent odds.

Unfortunately, it’s not that difficult to
HAVE a boating accident either…because
even when you do everything right, there
might be someone out there who does not.
You can take a Power Squadron Boating
Safety course. You can go to bed with the
Chapman’s seamanship book under your
pillow. But you can’t force other people to.
You can’t stop some idiot from pointing a
million candle power spotlight in your face
as your vessels close at 40 knots. You can’
t convince some people that driving
through a crowded bay at high speed
makes them a menace....not a rebel. You
can’t make some people appreciate what a
three foot stern wave does to a small
boat…especially when they're steering
from a flying bridge twelve feet above the

People like this make it necessary to know
what to do in the event of a boating
accident. Below is a list of things you
should keep in mind. However, nothing in
real life works as smoothly as a neat little
list. The trauma of the moment may require
doing several things at once…which
means that priorities may be have to be
decided on the spot…under emotional
stress…using common sense, or maybe
acting so fast you don’t have time to think.

If you’re focusing on stopping bleeding
from someone’s leg, it doesn’t mean you
don’t pay attention to something like water
rising in the bilge. If someone else is
qualified, you can tell them to take the
controls…or tell them to get a bucket or
bilge pump. If a passenger’s injuries are
not life threatening, you can direct your
immediate attention to moving your vessel
out of the way of an oncoming tug, etc.
These are difficult calls a person has to
make at the time and place they arise.

▪ Provided you still have a boat under you,
determine if anyone needs first aid or other
medical attention and render it to the best
that circumstances permit.

▪ Call the Coast Guard and tell them you
were involved in a boating accident.
Immediately tell them about the need for
emergency medical care if necessary. Give
them your location and a physical
description of the boats.

▪ Render assistance to the other vessel if
you are able to do so.

▪ Once it appears that things are under
control so far as urgent medical attention
and the safety of the occupants of the
vessels, exchange information with the
other operator. Ask for, and provide:

▪ Operator name - including address and
telephone numbers
▪ Names of the passengers - including
addresses and telephone numbers
▪ Names of eyewitnesses who witnessed
the event from shore or another vessel.
▪ Name of vessel
▪ Registration number or other
identification number of vessel (i.e.
documented vessel)
▪ Insurance company for the vessel
▪ Insurance policy number

▪ If everyone’s medical needs have been
met, and no one is in immediate danger,
take photographs of both vessels….but
only AFTER these more fundamental
needs have been met.

▪ After getting ashore, file a boating
accident report with the Coast Guard if
necessary. A report must be filed if
someone dies (God forbid), someone is
injured and requires medical treatment
beyond first aid, damage to vessels and
property meets or exceeds $2,000 (or there
is a complete loss of a vessel), or someone
disappears from a vessel under
circumstances indicating death or injury.
This is required by the code of federal
regulations, under 33 CFR 173.55.

▪ Depending on where you live, you may
need to file a boating accident report with
the appropriate state agency also, such as
a recreation and parks department, or
other such entity.

▪ Notify your insurance carrier of the
accident as soon as practicable. Give them
copies of paperwork or reference numbers
issued by the Coast Guard or law
enforcement vessels, including citations
issued, if any. Fill out their questionnaires
and return them in a timely manner.

I hope you never have an accident…and I
hope these recommendations are
something you never need to carry out.
But there’s nothing wrong in thinking
about what to do if the need arises. It’s
called being prepared.

Smooth sailing and SAFE BOATING!

© 2006 by Tim Akpinar - All Rights
The contents of this website may not be
copied or transmitted without the
prior written consent of Tim Akpinar
What To Do In A Boating Accident
New York Boating Accident - What Should You Do - Boating Accident Help Desk - Things to do in a Boating Accident
Knowing what to do is important, but
sometimes it can be just as important
to avoid trouble. See
boating accidents through stops for
BUI on the water... part of the Coast
Guard's program for safety on the
Not every witness that
a maritime trial
attorney will examine
on the stand will be a
boat operator,
eye-witness or boating
safety expert.
Sometimes the
emergency room
physician or
orthopaedic surgeon
or family doctor can
be called in.
Attorneys should
move quickly to meet
with witnesses before
too much time
elapses. The
recollection of an
incident fades with
time, witnesses move
out of state, or
become unavailable.
Something that a witness
could have automatically
remembered as clear as
what he or she had for
breakfast that morning
might be lost from clear
and detailed memory 12
months later...requiring
provisions of the rules of
evidence allowing referral
to documents or other
reference materials
inorder to refresh a
witnesses memory.
Sometimes the
parties may be able
to come to grips
with who was at
fault...but come to
an impasse as to
whether the ensuing
injuries could have
been related to the
A doctor who treated
the boating accident
injury victim would be
in a good position to
testify as to whether
or not the injuries
could have been
related to something
else, such as a
accident...or a car
accident from ten
years ago. Were
there previous
surgeries? Was the
boating accident
victim ever disabled?
These are some of the medical
issues that may come to bear.
The injured plaintiff's maritime
attorney would need to show
that the injuries were related to
the boating accident by a
reasonable preponderance of
the evidence...unlike the
evidentiary standard in a
criminal trial, where the
defense attorney needs to
show that something could
have or could not have
happened beyond a
reasonable doubt.