When and how to report a boating accident in Florida

While following the rules of the waterways and boating responsibly significantly reduce the chance you’ll be in a boating accident, it’s always important to be prepared for the worst. When you know when and how to report a boating accident in Florida, you can remove some of the uncertainty of a scary, frustrating, and potentially expensive incident.

When to file a report for a boating accident

Under federal law, a boating accident must be reported within 48 hours when any of the following occur:

  • A vessel or equipment results in death within 24 hours of occurrence
  • An injury requiring more than first aid occurs
  • There is a disappearance of a person likely due to death or injury

Federal law also requires a report within 10 days if any of the following take place:

  • The accident causes greater than $2,000 damage to boats or property
  • A vessel is completely lost
  • There is a casualty after 24 hours due to the accident

Also Read: Life Jacket Laws for Florida Boaters

How to file a report for a boating accident

In Florida, if you are in a boating accident that meets any of the criteria above, you’re required to report it to any of the following authorities:

  • The Division of Law Enforcement, FWC
  • The county sheriff from where the accident occurred
  • The municipality police department where the accident occurred

If you’re in a situation where you’re unsure whether or not a report is necessary, it’s wise to err on the side of caution. Failure to report an accident is considered a criminal offense under Florida law.

One recommendation to help through this difficult process is to keep a US Coast Guard Boating Accident Report form on board with you. This will help you document all the necessary details at the time of the accident or as soon as any passengers receive the medical care they require.

While boating is a fun activity, it’s important to remember the risk involved. Boating safely and responsibly is the best defense against accidents, but being prepared can help save you a lot of grief in an already difficult situation.