Boating is one of the most enjoyable recreational activities in El Paso County, especially during the summer. Nothing beats relaxing on the waters of Grand or Chatfield Lake, but boaters should always be weary. Boating accidents are a real possibility when operators ignore rules or act recklessly. If you plan on going boating, it is important to know how to respond to an accident or collision.
What to Do if You Are Involved in a Boating Accident
Knowing how to act after a boating accident could help save someone’s life. It can also help protect your legal rights to pursue compensation.
Put Safety First
The first step is to make sure that everyone is safe and if someone needs medical attention, providing it or contacting emergency services immediately. Some steps include:
- If the boat is still afloat and you are still aboard, check to see if you need medical attention, or if anyone else does.
- Help anyone who has fallen overboard back onto the boat if possible.
- If the vessel is sinking or has broken apart, find some floating debris to hold onto and signal for help. You should be wearing a life jacket or have one accessible at all times.
- If you and everyone else are still on the boat, first move it out of the path of other vehicles, then provide first aid to anyone who is injured.
- If your boat was involved in a collision, check to see if anyone aboard another vessel needs assistance. Never leave the scene of a boating accident.
Reporting the Accident
All boating accidents need to be reported immediately to ensure timely medical attention and detailed accident reports. An accident report is required under federal law if someone is killed, injured badly enough to require medical attention, or disappears from the vessel, or if property damage exceeds $2,000 or a vessel is completely lost or destroyed. Offer accurate, necessary information, but do not speculate about the cause of the accident, accept responsibility, or offer any apologies. This could jeopardize the accident investigation and your potential injury claim.
- Contact the local authorities immediately to let them know an accident has occurred, along with your location and what medical assistance is required.
- If you are the owner or operator of one of the vessels involved, notify your insurance company of the accident, regardless of who was at fault.
When you are sure everyone involved is okay and not in any immediate danger, start collecting information from individuals aboard the other vessels and any eyewitnesses to the accident. This should include the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the boat operators involved and any passengers aboard any of the vessels. You will also need to gather contact information for witnesses, registration numbers of the vessels, and the insurance companies and policy numbers of anyone involved in the wreck.
- Get checked by a doctor as soon as possible after the accident, even if you don’t believe you were seriously injured. Shock can mask symptoms of injury.
- Take photographs of the damage to vessels involved and the location where the accident occurred.
Filing a Claim for Compensation
If your boating accident was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may have a claim for compensation against the at-fault party. Your best chance of recovering full and fair compensation is to have a Colorado Springs personal injury attorney by your side.
At The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., we put our clients first. We protect their rights, advise them of their best options, and employ customized legal strategies to meet their needs. Attorney Timothy Bussey has been named among the National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers, listed among Colorado Super Lawyers®, and rated AV® by Martindale-Hubbell®.
If you have been injured in a boating accident, call us at (719) 401-0585 to schedule a free consultation. We can tell you if you have a case and what damages you may be entitled to claim.