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What Is the First Thing You Do in a Boating Accident?
Posted in Blog on November 13, 2023
Thanks to Washington’s diverse waterways and scenic backdrops, boating is a popular activity throughout the state, offering both peaceful retreats and avenues for adventure. However, boating is not without its risks.
Unexpected accidents can happen on the water, turning a leisurely day into a stressful and dangerous situation. In these moments, it’s crucial to know the right actions to take, not only for the safety of everyone involved but also to fulfill your legal responsibilities.
Make Sure Everyone on the Boat Is Safe
After a boating accident, your first step should always be to ensure the safety of everyone on board. If your boat is still afloat and it’s safe to do so, quickly check if anyone needs medical attention. If someone has fallen overboard, act as quickly as possible to get them back on the boat.
In case of an emergency, always keep equipment like life jackets, fire extinguishers, flotation devices, and a working radio on your boat. Before every trip, check these items to ensure they are in proper working order, as they can be lifesaving in an accident.
If You Are the Boat Operator, Stop and Call for Help
If you are operating the boat, your responsibilities increase significantly following an accident. Legally, you must stop the vessel immediately at the scene of the accident. Check for injuries among your passengers and provide assistance, but only if doing so does not pose additional risks to yourself or others. Once it’s safe, use your cell phone or radio to call for help.
You are also required to provide your name, address, and boat registration to everyone involved in the accident. This step is crucial for legal and insurance purposes, so make sure to exchange information with other operators.
Seek Medical Care, Even If You Feel Fine
Even if you feel fine, it’s crucial to seek medical attention after a boating accident. Some injuries, especially internal ones, might not show symptoms immediately. Getting a medical examination will provide a professional assessment of any injuries sustained and help prevent any complications.
Moreover, seeking medical attention will also generate medical records. These documents are vital if you decide to pursue legal action later on, helping establish the nature and the extent of your injuries.
Report the Incident to the Local Coast Guard
According to Washington’s boating laws, operators are required to report the accident to the Coast Guard. After ensuring everyone’s safety and seeking medical attention, report the accident as soon as possible and wait for the Coast Guard to arrive. Do not leave the scene of the accident; this can be constructed as a hit and run.
Should You Contact a Lawyer After a Boating Accident?
When going out on the water, it’s crucial to be prepared and know the steps to take immediately after an accident. In the aftermath, however, you may wonder about your path forward. In Washington, boating accident victims have the right to pursue legal claims if someone’s negligence led to the incident.
In these situations, it’s advisable to consider legal assistance. A Seattle boating accident lawyer can provide clarity and guidance through the legal processes that follow these incidents, helping you navigate an insurance claim or lawsuit. After addressing your immediate needs, contact a Bellevue personal injury lawyer to discuss your case and identify your optimal path to compensation.