California is full of waterways including lakes, rivers and streams and is surrounded on its entire western side by shoreline. Boating is one of the most popular sports in the state, and boaters take to the waters every day in the beautiful weather Californians enjoy most of the year.
However, California unfortunately also has one of the nation’s highest incidents of boating accidents. In 2012, there were 473 boating accidents reported in California. From these accidents, there were 247 injuries and 53 deaths reported. While these numbers are better than those of a decade before, when 963 boating accidents resulted in 61 deaths and 502 injuries, they still mean that one person a week dies and nearly five people a week are injured, on average.
Because California has a relatively high boating accident and injury rate, the state has implemented some rules about conditions under which boating accident reports must be filed. These reports help state officials to understand the circumstances under which boating accidents are likely to happen and how to institute measures that may prevent these types of collisions.
When Must I File An Accident Report?
According to California’s Division of Boating and Waterways, any boater who has been involved in an accident involving a watercraft must file a written accident report with the agency if any of the following conditions apply:
- Someone is killed or disappears as a result of the accident
- Someone requires medical attention by a professional. This does not include first aid given on board for a cut or scratch
- Damage to the vessel exceeds $500
- The boat or vessel is completely demolished, regardless of its value
If any of the following occurs, the owner of the boat is required to file a written accident report within the first 48 hours:
- Death of any passenger
- Disappearance of any person
- Injuries that require treatment beyond simple first aid
If any of the following occurs, the owner of the boat must file a written accident report within the first 10 days:
- A passenger dies more than 24 hours after the accident
- The vessel is completely lost
- Property damage exceeds $500
Where Should I File My Accident Report?
The owner or operator of a boat may file the report. The Division of Boating and Waterways supplies a form online as well as on paper that can be submitted to any DBW office. Reports can be faxed, mailed or submitted online.
The DBW collects and analyzes all information contained in boating reports in order to make California’s waterways safer. However, all information submitted in these reports is considered confidential and will not be released to any other party. This includes attorneys who are filing personal injury lawsuits against boat owners and others who may wish to see this information. A court order is necessary in most cases to force the DBW to release information on a particular boating accident.
What Should I Do If I Am The Victim of a Boating Accident?
If you have been the victim of a boating accident, you will likely need the help of a personal injury attorney to recover damages and to gain access to the proof you need of the circumstances of a crash.