Unfortunately, accidents on the water are often serious, resulting in major injuries and death. Although you never expect to be involved in a boating accident, it’s important to be prepared for the aftermath. Whether you fall overboard, your boat sinks, or you collide with another boat, you must protect yourself and get medical attention sooner rather than later.
Here are five steps you should take after a boat accident:
1. Call for Help
Depending on the accident, you may need to contact a local authority or flag down another boat for help: the Coast Guard, 911, or another local law enforcement agency. If possible, there should be one person to focus on keeping the vessel out of further harm and another to provide whatever medical assistance may be necessary.
2. Seek Medical Attention
Even if you do not believe that you were injured in the accident, it is still a good idea to seek medical attention after you return to dry land. Symptoms of certain injuries may not appear for some time after the accident. Medical attention also leaves behind a paper trail, which can be useful if you decide to pursue a personal injury lawsuit.
3. Gather Evidence
Evidence is your best friend. Collect names, addresses and telephone numbers of everyone involved in the boating accident, including witnesses. You should also take steps to record photos and videos of the accident. Write down information such as registration numbers, insurance policy numbers and accident details.
4. File a Report
You should report any boating accident that results in (1) a serious injury, disappearance, or death, (2) property damage in excess of $500, or (3) total vessel loss. According to the Division of Boating and Waterways, you must submit a report of any deaths that occur within 24 hours, and disappearances and injuries within 48 hours. For most other accidents, you have 10 days to submit a report.
You can file a report with the state Division of Boating and Waterways. The accident report form, known as Form BAR-1, asks you to provide specific details of the injuries, property damage, and how the boat accident occurred.
5. Contact an Attorney
Boating laws vary from state to state—sometimes even within the state—which is why it’s important to know your rights and what to do to recover for your injuries or damaged property. An experienced attorney can make a big difference on the outcome of your case by helping you with collecting evidence, gathering expert testimony and negotiating with an insurance company.
If you have been involved in a boating accident, please contact our Missouri lawyers at Aaron Sachs & Associates, P.C. today. Call (888) 287-1046 for a free consultation.