The US coastguard reported that there were 4,145 recreational boating accidents from 2017-18.
Whilst the number decreased from the previous year, it’s still far too high and shows just how dangerous the water can be.
It may even be hard to imagine how most accidents even occur. When we think of the ocean, we often imagine a vast amount of open space with minimal hazards.
But, we often don’t consider other factors that contribute to boating accidents and sadly many fatalities, including, alcohol consumption.
If you’re ever involved in a boating accident it’s important to know exactly what to do. Similar to car crashes, it’s likely you’re adrenaline will be pumping through your veins, and you’ll be in a state of shock and panic.
In this article, we’re going to share with you our guide of the 7 things you must do immediately if you’re ever involved in a boating accident.
Read on for more information.
1. Assess the Situation and Look For Casualties
Before you do anything, you need to ensure you’re ok first. If you’re in the water then get to a safe place as fast as you can. You then need to stay calm and check yourself for any injuries.
If you realize you’re injured, then tell someone what you think the injury is and that you need help.
However, if you determine that you’re not injured then start assessing your surroundings.
Are there other people in danger? Is anyone seriously injured? Try and find out as quickly as possible and then act in a swift manner, whether it be to hand out lifejackets or treat wounds.
2. Notify the Coast Guard
Whether the accident is minor or severe, the coast guard should always be notified of an accident.
To contact the US Coast Guard, you need to use VHF-FM Channel 16 (156.8 MHz), dial 911. You then need to inform them of your position and whether you require emergency medical help.
If you’re unable to do this, send up an emergency flare to signal help. Flares are usually stored in life vests. If you have no flares, either use a whistle and/or find something reflective like a mirror to reflect sunlight and be more visible.
3. Get the Boat Out Of Danger
Once you have fully assessed the situation, identified any casualties, and notified the Coast Guard, you need to get the boat to a safe position.
Although, ensure you only attempt this if nobody is in the water and once everybody is accounted for.
By getting the boat to a safer place, you reduce the likelihood of a further accident.
4. Stay at the Scene
Whilst important to make sure everyone and the boat are out of any more imminent danger, you need to stay there until the Coast Guard arrives.
If you attempt to get to shore, the Coast Guard will find it harder to locate you. This could be catastrophic if you or somebody else has serious medical injuries.
It may seem like a good idea to head back, or that it’s taking too long for the Coast Guard to find you, but they are experts with multiple resources at hand.
Once they locate and reach you, they will take charge of the situation. This is beneficial to you, as your decision-making skills will be hindered due to the shock.
5. Start To Collect Information
Once the Coast Guard has taken control of the situation and taken you to safety, it’s important to start collecting as much information as you can.
Start with the contact names and numbers of all those who were involved in the accident. If you were on a hired boat or on a trip, get all the contact information of the boating operators.
Ensure all the contact details are correct. If somebody has given you their cell phone number, then try calling it to make sure it’s the right.
Next, you’ll need to get the identification or registration numbers of all the vessels involved.
After that, get the insurance policy numbers, plus company names, of everyone who was involved in the accident. If anyone has gone to the hospital, try and establish their name and how you can contact them if you can.
Try and identify any eyewitnesses who may have seen what happened. Most of the time, when people witness an accident, they will stick around in order to give out their contact details for future reference.
Finally, enquire if anyone has anyone has video footage of what happened. If it was close to the shore or in a harbor, there’s a chance it could have been captured on film.
Don’t feel bad about asking and requesting copies.
6. Report It
There are several instances where reporting a boating accident is federal law.
This can include if somebody was killed and/or disappeared in the accident. Also, if anyone required medical help other than first aid and if total damage to vessel or property was $2,000 or more.
7. Seek Professional Help
In all circumstances, it’s worth seeking the advice of a personal injury lawyer to determine whether you’re entitled to any compensation.
Be advised to hold off agreeing to any settlements from insurance companies before consulting an expert.
What To Do If You Have a Boating Accident?
We hope this article about what to do if you have a boating accident has been useful and can prepare you for such an event.
Finally, if you have suffered a personal injury, then contact us for a free consultation.