If You Are Involved In A Boating Accident, What Is The First Thing You Must Do?
An accident is much more terrifying when it takes place on the water, where the possibility of drowning adds to possible injuries. This can panic everyone involved, but in a boating accident, it’s all the more crucial to stay calm and collected.
Keep in mind the things to do immediately after a boating accident. These steps can save you and your loved ones from more serious injuries, and can help your case if you decide to claim accident compensation later on.
First Thing To Do After A Boating Accident: Keep Everyone Safe
The first priority after any disaster is appropriate medical care. In a boating accident, you should check whether you or anyone else requires medical attention. If anyone has injuries, call for professional help right away. The Coast Guard is able to assist with this. While awaiting medical help, see if any first aid is available from the boat’s emergency kit.
If you are the boat operator, South Carolina boating rules require you to stop the vessel immediately, situating it out of the path of any other vessel. You must do a head count and assist anyone who is injured or in danger due to the accident.
Dangers in a boating accident include falling overboard. If someone has fallen in the water, it is not advisable for anyone to jump in after them unless it’s absolutely necessary. Instead, if it’s possible, throw a buoy, a rope, or a flotation device to the person. If jumping after them is necessary, make sure you are wearing a life jacket before doing so.
Reporting A Boating Accident
Calling the Coast Guard after a watercraft accident is helpful especially when medical assistance is needed. But apart from this, reporting the accident is actually required by federal law. According to the US Coast Guard, you must report to the state reporting authority if the boating accident resulted in any of these:
- A fatality
- A missing person
- An injury requiring more than first aid
- Property damage of $2,000 or more
- A destroyed vessel.
In South Carolina, the authority to report to is the SC Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). You may immediately call them at 1-800-922-5431.
Another reason to report your boating accident is to have an accident report filed. This document can be a valuable piece of evidence to support your compensation claim. With this in mind, keep your report factually accurate, but avoid providing unnecessary information, opinions, or speculations. Also avoid accepting responsibility or offering an apology as these could be taken against you later on.
Collecting Information About Your Boating Accident
Aside from the accident report, you’ll also want to gather information about other people involved in your accident and other potential evidence for your case.
First, ask for the name, address, contact details, and vessel identification of all boat operators involved. SC boating regulations require them to give this information to injured individuals and to owners of property that has been damaged in the accident. Also ask for the insurance company names and policy numbers of those in the accident, particularly the vessel operators.
Next, talk to anyone who may have witnessed the boat crash, and obtain their names and contact information.
If possible, take photos of the accident scene and the resulting damage. Document the accident location, the position of the boat or boats, any visible damage, and especially the injuries of anyone involved.
What To Do In The Aftermath Of A Boating Accident
In the hours or days following your accident, there are also some vital to-dos to help you medically and legally.
You’ll want to notify your insurer of the incident. Regardless of who you believe is liable for the accident, it is possible that you would have to turn to your insurance company to pay for damages.
The insurer of other parties may get in touch with you as well. Practice caution when speaking to insurance adjusters as your words could undermine the injuries you have suffered. To best protect yourself, let an attorney speak for you.
It is also wise to see a doctor for a thorough medical examination after the accident. Some injuries don’t immediately show symptoms. In other cases, symptoms that seem negligible later turn out to be a sign of a serious condition. It’s important for you to know the true extent of your injuries before you agree to any insurance offer.
Filing an injury claim is also an option for you if you have been seriously hurt in a boating accident. But whether or not you are seeking compensation, the best thing for you to do in the aftermath of your accident is to consult an injury lawyer. This way, you can get legal advice that’s specifically suited to your experience. In South Carolina, we at Kassel McVey are prepared to guide you. Talk to us today at (803) 256-4242.
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