When Are You Required to File a Boating Accident Report?

A boat sinking after an accident in Florida

Florida is one of the most popular places in the world for boating. Residents and visitors alike need to know the laws that apply so that boating is both safe and fair. When accidents happen, some laws require reporting, but not in every circumstance. Our Tampa boat injury lawyers explain when to report boating accidents in Florida.

When Is a Written Boating Accident Report Required?

You are required to file an accident report boating in Florida in the following circumstances:

  • A person dies
  • Someone disappears as a result of the accident
  • There is an injury to a person that requires more than immediate first aid
  • There is damage to a boat or boats of $2,000 or more
  • Structures or personal property sustained more than $2,000 in damage

Where Do You Report a Boating Accident in Florida?

You report a boating accident in Florida to the Division of Law Enforcement, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at (888) 404-3922. Alternatively, you may make a boating accident report to the sheriff in the county where the accident occurs. If the accident occurs in a municipality, you may make the report to the police department in the city where it happened.

How Quickly Must You File a Written Report if You’re Involved in a Boating Accident in Florida?

Florida law 327.30 [1] requires those involved in a boating accident to report the accident as soon as possible and in the quickest way they can. Also, United States law for boating accident reporting [2] requires reporting within 48 hours for qualifying circumstances. There may be written reports to follow, including Coast Guard Form CG-3865 Recreational Boating Accident Report.

What Types of Boating Accidents Must Be Reported in Florida?

The following types of boating accidents must be reported in Florida:

  • Collisions
  • Accidents
  • Accidents in the water
  • Incidents that occur while entering or exiting the water
  • Capsizing
  • Sinking
  • Collisions with vessels and objects
  • Personal injuries requiring medical treatment beyond first aid
  • Death
  • Disappearances
  • Apparent damage to vessels or property of $2,000 or more

Is Property Damage Required To Report a Boating Accident Under Florida Law?

Property damage of $2,000 requires the reporting of a boating accident under Florida law. The operator must make the report any time there is damage of $2,000 or higher. The threshold amount includes damage to the boats themselves, nearby structures, or even personal property in or on the boat itself. In addition to incidents of property damage, Florida law also requires boating accident reports in cases of physical injury.

What Are Boat Operators Required To Do When Involved in an Accident?

When involved in an accident, the law requires boat operators to take certain steps. These include:

  • Notify law enforcement as quickly as possible
  • Render emergency first aid as much as they safely can do
  • Provide information to anyone involved in the accident, including their name, address, and vessel identification number
  • Remain at the scene until they have complied with the law
  • If an operator strikes an unattended vessel, the operator must take reasonable steps to notify the person in charge of the vessel

What Is the Florida Law for Reporting Boating Accidents?

The law for reporting boating accidents is Florida Revised Statutes 327.30 Vessel Safety – Collisions, Accidents, and Casualties [2]. The law requires a driver involved in a collision to take steps to notify law enforcement and exchange information with those involved. This is similar to the requirements for a driver that is involved in a car accident. The law clarifies that it applies to a wide range of boating accidents, including sinkings and accidents that occur while entering or exiting the water.

There are federal laws that apply to Florida boating accidents, too. These laws require reporting for incidents that involve a death, disappearance, or injury requiring treatment beyond first aid. Generally, Florida laws have more requirements and a shorter timeline than federal laws. However, be aware that both sets of laws may apply to a boating accident.

Does Florida Boating Law Reporting Require Self-Incrimination?

No, Florida boating law reporting does not require self-incrimination. Florida law 327.30(3) [2] says that an operator does not have to make statements that are self-incriminating in order to comply with the law.

Is It a Crime To Leave the Scene of a Boating Accident in Florida?

Yes, it is a crime to leave the scene of a boating accident. Under Florida law 327.30, it is a third-degree felony to flee the accident scene without first complying with requirements to report the accident, exchange information, and render first aid.

If the accident involves property damage only, it is a second-degree misdemeanor. Penalties for a third-degree felony may include up to five years in prison, a fine of $5,000, and restitution payable to the victim. A defendant may also face other related charges such as boating under the influence or reckless operation of a vessel [3].

What Are My Rights if I’m Injured in a Boating Accident?

If you’re injured in a boating accident, you may have the right to financial compensation. Accidents that occur because of the dangerous actions of others may be legal grounds for a monetary payment from those responsible. The legal standard is a simple lack of reasonable care on the part of an operator. 

What Is the Cause of Most Boating Accidents?

Some common causes of boating accidents in Tampa include:

  • Not paying attention to traffic
  • Operating under the influence
  • Traveling at unsafe speeds 

These are just a few examples of negligent actions that may cause a boating accident to occur. A victim may have the right to compensation for medical treatment, lost income, property damages, pain and suffering, and mental anguish. Some deadlines apply to claiming compensation.

Can You Win Compensation for Filing a Boating Accident Report?

Filing a boating accident report alone isn’t enough to receive compensation. As a victim, you must file a legal claim in order to receive fair compensation for your injuries. The claim must be brought by the deadline. 

If you’ve been in an accident, contact our team of boat accident personal injury attorneys in Tampa. Let us help you understand your rights and how you can take action to receive justice after a boating accident.

Legal References:

[1] FLA. STAT. § 327.30 (2020)

[2] U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety Division. Accident ReportingRetrieved 14 April 2021 

[3] FLA. STAT. § 327.33 (2020)