In 2015, approximately 2,613 individuals were injured in boating accidents. An unexpected disaster can ruin an otherwise amazing day on the water, and if you’ve never been involved in a boating accident before, you might not know what to do next.
Understanding the steps you need to take after being involved in a boating accident is critical because you could not only save yourself or a loved one’s life but also determine if you can file a lawsuit against the guilty party. Here are a few steps you need to take after being involved in a boating accident.
Seek Medical Attention
After the accident, it is critical to first ensure that everyone is still onboard the boat and unharmed. If anyone is overboard, get them back on the boat as quickly as possible. Next, check everyone for injuries and treat any you can with your onboard first-aid kit.
However, if someone on the vessel is seriously injured, you must contact the Coast Guard immediately. Inform the Coast Guard that there is a seriously injured individual on the boat, and you require immediate attention. Provide your coordinates and do not move the injured person until the Coast Guard arrives.
Under federal law, if someone is seriously injured or dead, there is more than $2,000 worth of damage to either boat or someone is missing at sea, you must contact the United States Coast Guard and file an incident report.
DOCUMENT THE SCENE OF THE ACCIDENT
Once everyone’s injuries are attended to, it is critical to document the scene of the accident. Take several photographs of any damage to the boat and injuries suffered by the passengers. Also, if there are witnesses, ask them to provide a brief description of the accident and to give you their name and telephone number.
If the other driver of the boat approaches you, do not admit fault. Instead, inquire if anyone needs medical attention, and ask if they have boat insurance. Boat owners in the state of Michigan are not legally required to purchase boat insurance.
In some cases, the other driver’s homeowner’s or auto insurance policies might cover boating accidents. If the driver isn’t sure whether the accident is covered by their insurance provider, ask for the names of each insurance company. This information will be valuable if you decide to file a lawsuit.
CONTACT AN ATTORNEY
Finally, your next step should be to hire an attorney. In Michigan, boat accidents are considered personal injury cases, which means your lawyer must prove that the other boat’s driver was negligent and that this negligence led to the accident.
For example, if the other driver was operating the boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs or if they were driving recklessly, these could both be used to show the courts they were negligent and at-fault for the accident.
Unfortunately, it can sometimes be difficult to establish fault in a boating accident, especially if the accident was not reported to the United States Coast Guard or your local police. This is why it is critical to report the incident immediately after it occurs and why you need to document the damage to your boat and obtain witness statements.
The more information you can gather about the accident, the better your chances for proving the other driver was at-fault. Your attorney can help you determine whether you have a case and how to proceed.
Boating accidents can be frightening, especially if you or a loved one is seriously injured. If you’re ever involved in a boating accident, don’t hesitate to contact the professionals at Mihelich & Kavanaugh, PLC Attorneys at Law.