A boating accident is not like a car accident. Both Washington and Oregon require drivers to carry auto insurance. But neither state requires boaters to carry liability insurance for accidents they cause.
As a result, boating accidents often lead to lawsuits, whether they involve a collision between boats or a collision between a boat and a swimmer or water skier. The steps you take after an injury from a boating accident can affect whether you recover compensation and how much you recover.
Here are five steps to take after an injury from a boating accident.
Secure the Vessels and Ensure Everyone’s Safety
Boating accidents come with one risk that car accidents do not — drowning. If an injured person falls overboard, or the injury occurred in the water, a survivable injury can result in death.
Moreover, a damaged vessel can sink. This can endanger everyone, including uninjured passengers.
Getting everyone on board and checking the boat for leaks can prevent a dangerous situation from turning tragic.
Seek Medical Attention
Seek first aid for severe injuries. You may need to notify the local emergency services if you or anyone else requires a paramedic.
If you do not need emergency medical attention, you should still consider seeing a doctor soon after the accident. A “sprain” might be a fractured bone or torn ligament. Documenting your injuries early will help you claim compensation later.
Notify Local Officials
State laws require you to report all boating accidents that cause injuries. Depending on the location of the accident you may need to notify the Oregon State Marine Board, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, or the U.S. Coast Guard.
You should consider contacting the local police as well. The police can investigate the collision and determine whether anyone was impaired.
Get Identifying Information from Boaters Involved
You need a way to contact the boaters to have any chance of recovering compensation. If a boater has insurance, get a photo of the insurance card.
If the boater does not have insurance, get the boater’s name, address, and phone number. If possible, you should also get the boat’s hull number. This will help you identify the owner of the boat and determine whether the owner has a homeowner’s insurance policy that might cover boating liability.
Identify Witnesses to the Accident
Witnesses could provide crucial evidence in a boating accident investigation. Get names, addresses, and phone numbers from anyone who witnessed the accident.
Hiring a Boating Accident Lawyer
Since boating accidents often lead to lawsuits, you should consider involving a lawyer early in the process. The lawyer can help you identify any insurance policies that cover the accident. If none of the responsible parties have insurance, the lawyer can prepare a lawsuit.
Contact us for a free consultation. Harlan Law Firm brings over 25 years of legal experience to boating accident cases.