What to Do If You’re Involved in a Boating Accident

Boating is one of the best ways to celebrate a holiday or take it easy in Missouri. Drifting down the state’s stunning Lake of the Ozarks is an incredible experience; if you’re making plans for such a trip on the water, brush up on the many laws governing safe boating to ensure you and your family have as much fun as possible.

Responding to an Emergency

Prepare your boat before heading out so you can enjoy a pleasurable day. However, you must know how to respond in an emergency. If you’re involved in an accident:

  • Make sure everyone is safe and administer first aid as needed. If another vehicle was involved, check that all other parties are safe as well.
  • Contact the authorities. As with any emergency or collision, report the event by calling 911.
  • Secure the scene if possible. If wreckage or any other debris is blocking a waterway, move it if doing so is safe. Otherwise, wait for the police or Coast Guard.
  • Document the event. Photograph any damage and write down what happened; this will help you keep track of these details, as it is easy to forget important information following an accident.

After experiencing a collision, visit a doctor. Even if you or someone you were boating with isn’t presenting any immediate problems, a complication may arise in the future. A physician’s diagnosis will also be a vital piece of evidence if you need to file a claim later.

Factors That May Affect a Future Claim

If you need to speak with a Kansas City personal injury attorney, many factors will affect a potential claim. For example, negligence will either completely incriminate the responsible party or diminish the amount a plaintiff’s award. If a person speeds, breaks other laws, or fails to maintain the boat – for example, not properly maintaining an engine, which malfunctions and leads to an accident – he or she may be liable for related damages.

Similarly, if you rent any kind of watercraft, you may undergo some brief training and sign a liability release. Pay attention to this document carefully; if it stipulates that all parties wear life jackets at all times and you don’t follow this order, for instance, your legal options may be limited if you need to file a claim.

Though these are important steps in responding to an accident, it’s possible to prevent a problem or a boat accident from happening. Review the following laws and precautions before heading out for a fun weekend.

How to Avoid a Boating Accident

First, all boaters must follow the law. This includes everything from obeying no-wake areas and following speed limits to not drinking and boating. In fact, the last issue is particularly dangerous, and some lake-goers struggle to understand that. Boating while intoxicated is as unsafe (and illegal) as operating any other vehicle. Even if you’re not in charge of anything but the sunscreen, the increased heat and dehydration that comes from being on a boat means you’ll get intoxicated more quickly.

Next, prepare your equipment. You can prevent many of the accidents that happen on water with some preemptive maintenance. For example, check and double check that you have more gas than you need. Verify that your emergency equipment is stocked and functioning, and remember to bring backups of everything: batteries, water, fuel, first aid, and flares. When you’re actually boating, have that equipment ready to use; an emergency radio, for instance, is useless if it’s not turned on.

Finally, check the weather when you’re planning the trip, when you’re heading out, and while you’re on the water. Storms can manifest quickly, and they’re incredibly dangerous.

For more information on our state’s boating laws and to set up a consultation for a potential claim, contact us at Dickerson Oxton, LLC.