If you were involved in a boat accident, you may have to file an accident report. Learn when you are required to do so and what information you must include.

When Are You Required to File a Boating Accident Report in Washington?

when to report a boat accidentNo matter how skilled a boat operator is, a boating accident can happen. Under Washington law, a boat operator has certain duties in this situation. One requirement is to stop immediately and render assistance to anyone injured or in danger of being involved in an accident unless it would endanger his own boat or passengers. An operator must also report the accident under certain conditions. Besides being required under state law, an accident report can provide a person with important information if he needs to file a claim after being injured in a boating or other watercraft accident.

When Must a Boat Accident Report Be Filed?

There are both federal and state laws regarding when a report must be filed after a boating accident. Under Washington law, a boat operator must file a report in these situations:

  • When a person dies in the accident
  • When  person is injured in the boating watercraft accident beyond the need for first aid
  • When a person disappears from the vessel in a manner that suggests he was injured or died
  • When the accident caused more than $2,000 in property damage or there was a complete loss of the boat

The Washington Accident Report Form is available online and at the Washington Parks & Recreation Commission and the marine unit of local law enforcement. Each boat operator involved in the accident is required to complete a report. It should be filed with the local law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction over the accident. It must be filed within 48 hours if there is a disappearance, injury, or death or 10 days if there was only boat property damage.

What Information Must Be Included in the Accident Report?

The accident report is a preprinted form that requires detailed information regarding the accident. Some of the information that must be provided includes:

  • Whether anyone was injured, died, or disappeared
  • The date, time, and place of the incident
  • Description of the operator’s boat and damage to it or any other property
  • Details about the accident, including weather conditions, water, boat operations, contributing factors to the accident, equipment failure, identification of persons injured, killed, or who disappeared, and much more

An accident report is not only required under Washington law, but is also helpful if you must file a claim for compensation for your injuries. It can document that an accident occurred and provide a record of helpful contact information and details about the incident. If you can obtain a copy of the negligent boat operator’s report, it can give you a wealth of information regarding how he claims the accident occurred. In addition, law enforcement officials may investigate the incident and include their findings as to the cause of the boat accident.

If you or a family member was injured in a boating or other watercraft accident, we want to help you hold the negligent boat operator responsible. Call our office today to schedule an appointment to discuss your situation and get answers to your questions.