Reporting a Boating Accident

Reporting a Boating Accident

When a boating accident occurs, boat owners and operators should be aware of state and federal action that must be taken. In certain circumstances, filing a boating accident report is legally required. Additionally, there are time limits for when the boating accident report must be filed. Read more to find out more details regarding Florida's boating accident reporting laws.


Boating is a fun family pastime for many, especially for those who live in sunny and water-friendly states like Florida. As with any recreational activity, there is always the risk of a being involved in an accident. To protect yourself and your family, it is important to be educated and prepared in the event of a boating accident. Under certain circumstances, federal law requires that the operator or owner of the boat files a state-level boating accident report within the state where the accident occurred. In addition to filing a state boating accident report, boaters may also pursue appropriate action such as boating insurance claims or a boating accident lawsuit.


Florida Boating Accident


When a boating accident occurs in Florida, state law requires boaters to file a report with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Division of Law Enforcement, or the local police or sheriff’s department. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission states that 704 boating accidents were reported in 2012. These reported boating accidents resulted in 55 deaths, 386 injuries, and more than $8 million in total property damage.


A Florida boating accident report must be filed when at least one the following incidents occur:



  • Death of one or more individuals

  • Disappearance from the boat under circumstances indicating death or injury

  • Occurrence of injury that requires more medical attention than basic first aid

  • Damage to boats and other property totaling $2,000 or more


When to File a Boat Accident Report


When physical harm to individuals is not involved, boating accident reports must be filed within 10 days of the accident. However, the boating accident report must be filed within 48 hours if death occurs. The boating accident report must also be filed within 48 hours if an individual is injured to a degree that requires medical treatment beyond simple first aid.


After a Boating Accident


When a boating accident occurs, boaters are required by law to take certain action. For example, medical assistance must be provided to injured individuals when possible and needed. Failure to provide appropriate medical assistance can result criminal charges, and imprisonment.


When a boating accident occurs, boaters should:



  • Stop and identify themselves, their peers, and their property

  • Administer medical assistance when possible, and ensure that injured parties are taken to the hospital or otherwise provided with appropriate medical assistance

  • Record as much information as possible surrounding the incident, such as the date, time, and conditions of the accident

  • If possible, take photographs of the accident scene, sustained injuries, and boat damage

  • Use this information to file a boating accident report with local law enforcement or the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission



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