Boating accidents can happen unexpectedly. As a boat operator, you have certain legal and ethical responsibilities if someone is injured in an accident involving your vessel. Here is what you need to know about providing assistance when boating accidents occur.
Legal Duty to Assist
- Boat operators have a legal duty to provide reasonable assistance to anyone injured in an accident involving their vessel. This applies whether you are at fault or not.
- The exceptions are if rendering aid would:
- Endanger your own vessel or passengers
- Exceed your expertise or abilities
- You must provide your name, address, and boat registration info in writing to injured parties and owners of damaged property.
When to Stop and Assist
|Your vessel strikes another vessel or object||Stop immediately and provide aid|
|Someone falls overboard from your vessel||Stop, retrieve person, and provide aid|
|Your vessel hits a swimmer or floater||Stop immediately and provide aid|
|Someone is injured on your vessel||Provide reasonable aid|
- Rendering aid takes priority over leaving the scene or continuing your trip.
- Only leave the scene if injuries require immediate professional medical care.
How to Assist an Injured Person
- Assess the injury and provide appropriate first aid within your abilities.
- Use emergency equipment like first aid kits, blankets, etc.
- Reassure the injured person and make them as comfortable as possible.
- Call for emergency medical help if needed.
- Continue to monitor the injured person until help arrives.
When Accidents Must Be Reported
- Boat operators must report accidents to the US Coast Guard if someone dies or disappears or needs medical treatment beyond first aid.
- Accidents causing over $2,000 in damage must also be reported.
- Reports must be filed within 48 hours or up to 10 days depending on the circumstances.
Providing reasonable aid to injured persons is not only legally required in most cases, but ethically mandatory as well. Use your best judgment and training to assist victims after a boating mishap.