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Vessel Accidents

An operator involved in a boating accident must stop his or her vessel immediately at the scene of the accident and assist anyone injured or in danger from the accident, unless doing so would seriously endanger his or her own vessel or passengers. Anyone who renders assistance at the scene of a boating accident will not be held liable for any civil damages as a result of providing reasonable and prudent assistance.

The operator of a vessel involved in a boating accident or the owner of the vessel reporting for the operator must complete and submit a written boating accident report if:

  • A person dies or disappears from the vessel under circumstances that indicate death or injury or
  • A person is injured and requires medical treatment beyond first aid or
  • Damage to the vessel(s) or other property exceeds $2,000 or there is complete loss of a vessel.

The boating accident report must be submitted to the law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction where the accident occurred within the following time frames.

  • Within 48 hours of the accident if:
    • A person dies within 24 hours of the accident or
    • A person is injured and requires medical treatment beyond first aid or
    • A person disappears from a vessel.
  • Within 10 days for all other accidents.

Accident report forms are available from the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, and the marine unit of local law enforcement agencies.

Additional information and the boating accident report form are available online at: http://parks.state.wa.us/456/Boating-Accidents.

Remember—Operators are required to help …

The navigation rules require operators to stop and render assistance to a vessel in distress unless doing so would endanger their own vessel or passengers.