What Is the First Action Required of a Boat Operator Who Is Involved in a Boating Accident?

The immediate aftermath of a boating accident can be overwhelming. When the unforeseen happens on the water, you might ask yourself, What is the first action required of a boat operator involved in a boating accident? First, boat operators need to check whether any passengers have suffered injuries. Passenger safety is of the utmost importance when operating a boat. If you or a loved one have suffered injuries in a boating collision due to someone else’s negligence, reach out to Mann Law for expert guidance and support.

We’re here to guide you during these challenging times. Drawing on our experience in insurance defense and our empathetic, personalized approach, we aim to help you get the compensation you need for your losses.

In the event of a boating accident, a boat operator is obligated to:

  • Promptly halt their vessel at the accident site.
  • Provide assistance to anyone injured or in peril due to the accident. It’s important to note that assistance should not be rendered if doing so would pose a serious risk to the operator’s vessel or passengers.

The First Thing to Do Following a Boating Accident

First, stop the boat. A quick and methodical headcount can help determine if everyone is accounted for. Knowing what to do in a boating accident can be hard to predict, so ensure you have a well-stocked first aid kit onboard and provide immediate attention to injuries. If necessary, call 911 for medical attention.

In the unsettling moments after a boating crash, your initial response can significantly affect the safety of everyone on board. Your response can also impact potential future legal proceedings. So what should you do if your boat has an accident?

First and foremost, the boat operator should ensure the safety of all passengers and other involved parties. If it’s safe, stop the vessel immediately. Assess the physical condition of everyone and any potential victims from other involved boats.

When someone falls overboard or has visible injuries, immediately provide first aid and contact local emergency services. If your boat is sinking or in danger, seek safety on floating debris or life rafts and signal for help.

Remember, Maine law obliges boat operators involved in an accident to help anyone who might be injured or in danger, so long as it doesn’t pose a serious risk to themselves or their passengers.

What Information You Need to Gather

Once you’ve verified everyone’s immediate safety and contacted emergency services, it’s time to document the incident. This step is crucial not only for the impending insurance claim but also for any potential legal action from passengers. While the experience may be distressing, gathering comprehensive information will significantly benefit everyone in the long run.

Details to collect from the accident include:

  1. Identification information. Get the names, addresses, and contact numbers of all boat operators and passengers involved in the accident.
  2. Witness details. Record the contact information of any potential eyewitnesses, including those onshore or aboard nearby vessels.
  3. Vessel specifics. Note the registration or identification number of other boats involved in the accident.
  4. Insurance details. Obtain the names of the involved parties’ insurance companies and policy numbers.
  5. Visual documentation. Take photos of the damage to all involved vessels, the accident scene, and any visible injuries, if possible.

It’s essential to remember not to speculate or make assumptions about the accident’s cause. Stick to collecting facts and be cautious about what you say to responding authorities.

Boating Laws in Maine

The Maine boating accident law is designed to promote safety and responsibility on the water. Every boat operator born after January 1, 1983, must complete a boating safety course. All boats must have life jackets for every passenger, and children under 10 must always wear their life jackets.

Regarding boating accidents, operators are legally obliged to stop their vessels immediately, render aid, and provide their identification information. If the boating crash results in injury, death, disappearance, or substantial property damage, reports must be filed within specified time frames.

What Type of Report Must Be Filed If There’s an Accident While Boating?

In Maine, boating accidents must be reported if they involve injury, death, disappearance, or substantial damage. Reporting these incidents isn’t just good practice—it’s a legal requirement.

Boat operators must file a standardized form to the U.S. Coast Guard within 48 hours in the case of injury, death, or someone’s disappearance. This notification provides the Coast Guard with crucial information about the crash location and the extent of injuries, enabling them to dispatch necessary emergency support.

In addition to notifying the Coast Guard, this report puts the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife on notice if the accident results in serious injury, death, or a missing person. A report must be filed within five days for accidents involving property damage over $2,000.

When filing this report, provide accurate and concise information about the incident. Avoid speculations of any kind and limit your account to the facts. Suppose you’re unsure about what to include in your report or how to handle discussions with insurance companies. In that case, consulting with an experienced attorney who understands boating accident laws in Maine may be beneficial.

Passengers Who Want to Present an Injury Claim

Passengers involved in a boating accident who have sustained injuries have the right to present a claim. Your well-being is paramount, and you must receive necessary medical attention promptly following the accident. Even if your injuries appear minor initially, a thorough medical check-up is necessary. Some conditions may not manifest immediate symptoms.

If you are a passenger, try to gather as much information as possible from the scene. This documentation includes the boat operator’s knowledge, witness contacts, photographs of your injuries, and any other details that might support your claim.

Contact Mann Law

Understanding your obligations and rights following a boating accident is crucial. So remember that the first action of a boat operator involved in an accident should be to verify the safety of everyone aboard. However, it can be overwhelming to navigate the process of filing a claim for compensation alone, especially when you or a loved one are dealing with the emotional and physical aftermath of the incident.

That’s where Mann Law steps in. As a female-led firm in a predominantly male market, we pride ourselves on providing sophisticated, empathetic, and uniquely personalized service. With experience in insurance defense work, we don’t just focus on the settlement figures. Instead, we aim to understand your unique pain and losses to help us obtain a better outcome for you.

Every case is unique, and the potential settlement from a boating accident claim can vary widely, depending on the specific details of the accident and the extent of injuries. Be cautious of anyone guaranteeing a high-dollar settlement without knowing the full context of your case. A responsible lawyer will always consider all details and potential outcomes before discussing possible settlement amounts.

At Mann Law, our clients are more than case numbers—they’re extended family. Contact our office when you need support and legal advice following a boating accident in Maine. We’re here to help.

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Christiana E. Mann Christiana “Chrissy” Mann has specialized in civil litigation for 21+ years as a savvy and creative litigator, and she’s regarded as a fair, compassionate, and zealous advocate on behalf of her clients.