Speaker 1: Could you walk us through what to do right after an accident?
Speaker 2: Anytime a boater has been involved or should have reasonably known that they were involved in some type of a boating accident, they need to call State Police Marine Patrol or report to the nearest police station immediately.
Speaker 1: What actually constitutes an accident?
Speaker 2: So anytime we have a type of property damage of $2,000 or more, any type of injury—it could be a grounding, capsizing, missing person, someone falls overboard. It can be a collision with a fixed object or a floating object. It doesn’t really matter. But if you fall into any of those criteria, then you’re certainly going to want to pick up the phone and make that call immediately.
Speaker 1: If someone’s wake causes damage, is that also another reason to call?
Speaker 2: Yeah, absolutely. Someone is responsible not only for the action of their boat, anything attached to their boat, which would include a tow, someone being towed on either a tube or a water ski. But in addition to that, the wake itself is also an extension of that boat, and you are responsible for that.
Speaker 1: For you, what are the most important things that people need to do right after they have a boating accident?
Speaker 2: Well, the first thing they have to do is stop immediately and make sure that the other boat is not in need of any assistance. If they are, any type of first aid or assistance they can provide, they’re required by law to provide that. They’ve just been involved in a boating crash.
Once that’s been established, there is going to be an exchange of information. They need to be able to know who the operators are on each boat, in addition to that, who the boat belongs to. That registered owner may not be the operator in this particular case. Once this is all said and done, there is some reporting that’s going to have to take place. And that needs to happen within 15 days of this accident.
Speaker 1: Say you get in an accident, and you’re totally fine, and you walk away. You think, “I don’t have to call.” Why is it important to call?
Speaker 2: Yeah, that’s sometimes a misconception. If your boat, let’s say, is up on the rocks and you’re able to leave that scene, and maybe you don’t have any injury, the average person or police officer that comes across that boat, seeing a boat up there on the rocks, is going to potentially form a very different opinion. They could be under the impression that there’s people that are missing, people that are in the water. And now we’re allocating a lot of resources when, in fact, there’s no victims there.
Speaker 1: Am I going to get in trouble if I call?
Speaker 2: I think it’s important for people to remember that just because you’ve been involved in some type of a boating crash doesn’t mean you’re going to get in trouble. Simply not reporting it can actually wind you up in more trouble than if you simply made the phone call to begin with and reported it to authorities.