Summertime is a great time for New Yorkers to get out on the water for boating, jet-skiing, kayaking, or other activities. Many people look forward to cooling off or soaking up some sun on the open water, but some may not be as prepared as they should for potential hazards on the water. Boaters or watercraft owners who are reckless, underprepared, or inexperienced can cause accidents that result in serious injuries to themselves or others.
If you’re going out on a boat or watercraft this summer, you should know how to keep yourself and others safe, as well as what to do in the event of an accident. Here’s what to do in the event of a boating accident.
Make Sure Everyone is Safe
Your first priority in the event of an accident is to ensure that everyone is safe and anyone who has injuries gets proper medical attention. Be sure to take a headcount of all passengers to ensure no one has gone overboard. In the event that someone has been thrown off the boat, do your best to get them to get them to safety without compromising your own.
In the event that yourself or a passenger is injured, call for medical attention. Even if the injuries only seem minor after a boating accident, it is advised to see a doctor as soon as possible to determine if you need further treatment and to get a medical report for your injuries. Injuries that seem minor may worsen over time and a medical report will be an important piece of information if you end up needing to file a claim.
Call For Help
If you have cell reception, you can call 911 to request help or medical attention. This will notify the nearest emergency services, such as the U.S. Coast Guard or NYS Marine Patrol that you need emergency assistance.
In the event that you do not have cell reception, you can also make a distress call on a VHF marine radio. The U.S. Coast Guard reserves and monitors certain channels for distress calls and will dispatch help to your boat or watercraft.
Distress signals can also be used to attract attention and summon help to your boat. There are various types of distress signals you can use for day or night, including smoke flares and signal flares, that you should keep on your boat in the event of an emergency.
Once you, your passengers, and your watercraft are out of harm’s way, you should do your best to record any details of the accident for an insurance or legal claim if either you or the at-fault party hold boating insurance. This will include:
- Contact information for all boat operators and passengers involved
- Contact information for all witnesses to the accident
- Registration and identification of all other vessels involved in the accident
- Photos of the damage to your watercraft
- Photos of the scene of the accident
- Insurance details of all other vessels involved, if applicable
- Medical reports of any injuries from the scene
All of this evidence will be crucial in proving your case and obtaining compensation after a boating accident if you are able to file an insurance claim.
Report The Accident
In accordance with New York State law, if your boat or watercraft is involved in an accident where a personal injury occurs or someone disappears underwater, the operator of the boat must exchange information with all other parties involved. If the other party cannot be located or they are incapable of receiving information, then the accident must be reported to law enforcement as soon as possible. Failure to do so is considered a Class B misdemeanor and can come with a $250 – $500 fine for first-time offenders.
If the accident involves serious physical injury, death, disappearance or damage in excess of $1,000, the operators involved must report the incident in writing to State Parks within 5 days. A violation of this subdivision is punishable by a fine of $25 – $100.
Notify Your Insurance Company
If you were the owner of the boat or watercraft involved in an accident, you must notify your insurance provider — regardless of whether or not you were at fault for the accident. You may need to make a claim on your own insurance policy even if you were not to blame for the accident.
However, it is important to remember that you should not admit fault or discuss the accident with any other parties or insurance companies before consulting a lawyer. Insurance companies will look for any reason to minimize or reject your claim, so it’s generally considered best practice to let other parties or your insurance company speak on your behalf.
Contact A Boating Accident Attorney
In general, boating accident victims who hire legal representation receive higher settlement amounts than unrepresented victims. Boating and watercraft accidents can cause serious injuries and significant property damage. For some, their lives are permanently changed due to the nature of the injuries they’ve sustained. Although compensation cannot undo any of the damage done, it can significantly help those who have accumulated medical bills from the accident itself.
A good personal injury attorney who has experience in boating accidents can help you to navigate the waters of insurance claims and maximize the compensation you receive for your injuries. When choosing a personal injury attorney, it’s important to find a competent attorney who understands New York State boating accident law and regulations. The team at Cellino Law has decades of experience in assisting personal injury victims to maximize their compensation from boating accidents. For a free and confidential consultation with one of our attorneys, call us at 800-555-5555.