Boating and jet skiing are popular recreational activities for many people in North and South Carolina. Unfortunately, they are also potentially dangerous. Dozens are killed and hundreds more are injured in boating accidents across both states every year, according to data collected by the U.S. Coast Guard. If you have been injured in a boating accident, you may feel shocked, overwhelmed, and uncertain about what to do next.
Here, Stewart Law Offices discusses the steps you can take after a boating accident to protect your rights and lay a solid foundation to pursue compensation for your injury.
Stop at the Scene and Offer Assistance
Your first priority after any accident, including a boating or jet ski accident, is to get yourself and others to safety. The aftermath of a boating accident can be dangerous due to the risk of drowning and the unpredictability of the water.
If you, any of your passengers, or any occupants of other affected vessels are severely wounded or in danger, do what you can to help them. Call emergency services for anyone in need if possible. You may be able to use the ship radio, your personal cellphone, or emergency flares. If the boat is leaking, try to reach the nearest safe location.
Gather as Much Evidence as Possible
Once you are certain that no one is in imminent danger, you should begin gathering evidence related to the accident, such as:
- The names and contact details of each boat operator and passenger involved in the boating accident
- The names and contact details of any witnesses who saw the accident occur
- The registration or identification number of other vessels involved in the wreck
- Photos or video footage of any physical damage caused by the accident
- Photos or video footage of the accident scene and relative positions of each of the vessels involved
- Insurance policy details from any operators or vessels involved in the crash
- Your own written recollection of how the boating accident occurred
Report the Accident to the Authorities
You are required to report boating accidents to the U.S. Coast Guard and your state’s Department of Fish & Wildlife or Natural Resources if the accident results in significant property damage, injury, disappearance, or death. Most authorities require most boating accidents to be reported within 10 days, but the deadline may be sooner if the accident results in injury, disappearance, or death.
Notify the Insurance Company
If you own or operate one of the vessels involved in the boating accident, you should also notify your boat insurance company about the accident. Even if you were not at fault for the accident, most insurance companies require you to report all accidents as part of the terms of your policy. If you fail to notify the insurance company, it could impact your ability to seek compensation down the line.
Contact a Boating Accident Lawyer
A knowledgeable boating accident lawyer will know the specific boating laws and regulations in your area. Depending on the circumstances, they can help you by seeking compensation through your own boat insurance policy, another party’s boating insurance policy, or a personal injury lawsuit.
How Stewart Law Offices Can Help
If you were injured in a boating or jet ski accident, the attorneys of Stewart Law Offices can conduct an independent investigation to identify liable parties and uncover valuable evidence. We are prepared to use our considerable resources and knowledge to try to fight for maximum compensation. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help in a free initial consultation session.