Legal Advice: What Happens After A Boating Accident

Boats, Yacht, Ship, Water, Sea, Marina, Travel, Ocean

No one would probably be able to understand how scary it is when a person is involved in a boating accident. Not only that, the situation is life-threatening, but it could sure do a lot of damages. And what’s worse is that it could make long-term anguish and injuries. According to maritime law, a “boating accident” is not only limited to boat collisions. It also covers situations where a boat passenger is seriously injured, dies, or disappears while boating.

There are lots of factors that cause boating accidents. One of the most common types of boating accidents is boating under the influence (BUI). Also, accidents are more likely to happen when inexperienced boaters act like a pro and try to sail on unfamiliar or dangerous weather conditions. Some boaters also tend to disobey safety guidelines set forth by the United States Coast Guard, where they end up damaging properties as well as causing injuries to people.

Unfortunately, not a lot of people are aware of the maritime law about boating accidents, and people end up getting arrested by the authority. In case you get involved in such cases, you must contact a Miami maritime lawyer immediately for legal assistance. 

Furthermore, below we have provided some essential information that you should be aware of when facing a boating accident situation.

Accident Reports

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If you are the boat operator, you are expected to file an accident report in case a boating accident occurs, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. This step is a must, especially if the boating accident causes property damage, personal injuries, or death. It doesn’t matter whether you are only sailing in smaller bodies of water or in the wide-open sea as long an accident happens, you have to ensure to contact local authorities. You have to report the accident immediately and properly, especially if you are aiming to establish a case against the responsible party. 

However, not all states have the same procedure when reporting a boating accident. In some states, you are only required to submit a report either to the United States Coast Guard or to the applicable state agency regulating boats, while in some areas, it may just be the local police authority. On the other hand, some states require you to submit the report on both agencies for proper documentation. 

In case of death and personal injuries as a result of the boating accident, you must file a report the soonest or within a maximum of 48 hours after the accident. On the other hand, if the boating accident causes property damage, the authority has given a provision of 10 days to file the said incident. 

And more importantly, you should always remember that failing to report a boating accident is a crime and punishable by law, especially if there’s an injured person involved or death.

Accident Liability

After the boating accident occurs, the question will be who’s responsible? Similar to a car accident, the persons who are at fault with regards to the boating accident is the one who acts negligently. For instance, it is prohibited to run a boat while under the influence of alcohol. But still, some boaters choose not to adhere to all safety rules and precautions set by the U.S. Coast Guard and don’t consider the safeness of their passengers and other boaters in the area.

To avoid becoming liable to a boating accident, it is essential to strictly follow directions, observe signs, adhere to all safety rules and precautions, regularly maintain your boat, pay attention to the weather, and, more importantly, never piloting a boat while under the influence of alcohol.

On the other hand, in the event that you were the one who caused the accident, you will not only face liability charges but criminal charges as well. The victims of the boating accident may sue you for personal injury, property damage, and other losses they have incurred because of the boating accident. Moreover, the state may also file additional charges against you if the cause of the accident is due to your gross negligence or piloting the boat recklessly.


Similar to land vehicles, boat owners are also required to have vessels insured. Having boat insurance will be a great help in the event of a possible settlement between the two parties involved in the boating accident. In rare cases, if there is someone other than the boat’s owner who tends to pilot the vessel during the accident, they may also be liable, and they can also use their insurance to fund the settlement.

Final Thought

Maritime laws vary from one state to another, even within the state, so it is essential to be well aware of those laws before piloting a boat. Know also your rights in case you are the victim of a boating accident and make sure to contact an experienced Miami maritime lawyer to assist you with your claim.

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