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When Is a Written Boating Accident Report Required After a Crash?

March 24, 2021

Boating is a popular year-round pastime in Alabama and Mississippi, where the Gulf of Mexico is easily accessible, along with dozens of inland lakes, rivers, and state parks. Unfortunately, with that many people on the water, the odds of being involved in a boating accident increases.

Boating crashes frequently result in the loss of life, and they are becoming all too common. According to the United States Coast Guard (USCG), 28 people died in boating accidents in Alabama in 2019, the state’s highest total in 20 years. Another five people in Mississippi died from boat accidents.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a boat crash, you may be eligible for compensation. In this blog, the Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys team will outline what you need to know and what you should do if you are involved in a boating accident in Alabama or Mississippi.

Boater Safety Starts with Life Jackets

Safety should be the first priority for all boating enthusiasts, in all types of personal watercraft, including motorboats, pontoons, canoes, kayaks, or rowboats.

Boater safety starts with life jackets, which are essential for anyone on the water. Even strong swimmers should wear a life jacket. The USCG reported that 82% of drowning victims in 2019 were not wearing a life jacket. If you fall off a boat, it is easy to become injured, disoriented, or even get knocked unconscious. A life jacket will help keep your head above the water until you can be rescued.

The USCG reported that 82% of drowning victims in 2019 were not wearing a life jacket. If you fall off a boat, it is easy to become injured, disoriented, or even get knocked unconscious. A life jacket will help keep your head above the water until you can be rescued.

Here are some other things to keep in mind when you are on the water:

  • Take sunscreen, water, and know the signs of heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses.
  • Bring an extra set of clothes in case you fall into cold water or get wet.
  • Be wary of carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas that is odorless and colorless, but can be emitted by combustion engines, outboard motors, and onboard generators.
  • Have spotters and hand signals worked out for water skiers, tubers, and wakeboarders.
  • Make sure the propeller has stopped before anyone gets back into the boat.

Common Causes of Boating Accidents

Boating accidents can happen for a lot of reasons. One common factor is people making poor decisions while driving a boat or watercraft. Dangerous habits cause many crashes, and those wrecks lead to death all too often.

According to the U.S. Coasts Guard’s 2019 Recreational Boating Statistics Report, here are the 10 most common contributing factors to boating accidents:

  1. Operator inattention: You should be aware of your surroundings, recreational vessel, and passengers to avoid potentially dangerous situations.
  2. Improper lookout: Accidents can happen if no one is available to monitor water conditions and other watercraft, like jet skis or canoes, near your boat.
  3. Operator inexperience: Young and inexperienced drivers need to know the basic rules of boating and understand how to operate their vessel.
  4. Excessive speed: A speed limit isn’t necessarily going to be posted on the water like it is on a highway, so use slower speeds to give you more time to react to situations and avoid collisions.
  5. Alcohol use: The legal blood alcohol limit for boaters in Alabama is 0.08 percent and 0.10 percent in Mississippi.
  6. Machinery failure: Maintenance checks should be regularly performed to ensure your boat is in proper working order.
  7. Navigation rules violation: Many of these are similar to the rules of the road and should be followed to avoid crashes with other boats.
  8. Weather: Sudden storms and heavy winds can create rough conditions and high seas, making operating a boat potentially dangerous.
  9. Hazardous waters: Rapid tide and current changes often result in hazardous conditions.
  10. Force of wave/wake: The force from a large wave or wake caused by a boat’s hull can make a major impact on your vessel.

Related: Boating Accidents Cause Serious Injuries. Here’s What You Should Know

Here’s What You Should Do If You’re Hurt in a Boat Crash

The first thing you should do if you are involved in a boating accident is seek medical attention for anyone that is hurt or injured. Even if you don’t feel like you’ve been badly hurt, a doctor can find hidden symptoms you might miss and help prevent long-term medical issues.

Once everyone is safe, note that you are required by federal law to file a boating accident report with your state if you were the boat operator or owner of a vessel that results in any of the following:

  • The death or disappearance of any person from the boat
  • An injury that requires medical treatment beyond first aid
  • Boat or property damage that is more than $2,000 in Alabama or $100 in Mississippi

Reports must be filed with your state’s Marine Police Division within 48 hours if someone dies or requires medical treatment, or within 10 days if there is only boat or property.

Take down the names and contact information of all the passengers that were on your boat at the time of the accident, along with the name, insurance, and contact information of the driver who hit your boat. Record everything you can remember about the crash, interactions with local law enforcement, and take pictures of any injuries and property damage. These details will be important if you file a personal injury claim.

If You’ve Been Injured in a Boating Accident, You May Be Eligible for Compensation

An experienced boat crash attorney can help you understand your legal options if you have been in an accident. Boating accidents can be challenging because a collision on the water won’t leave the same kind of evidence as a car crash.

Experienced boat crash attorneys can help you uncover hidden accident causes, every available source of compensation, and ensure you get the best results possible. Your lawyer can help with other legal items you may be struggling with, including:

  • Organizing medical bills and liens
  • Finding emotional support throughout the claims process
  • Communicating with insurance companies and law enforcement agencies
  • And more, depending on your situation.

An experienced boating accident attorney can help you recover compensation to cover:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages from missing work
  • Medical bills and expenses
  • Long-term treatment costs
  • The repair of damaged property
  • And more, depending on your case

Even if you’re not sure about working with an attorney, Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys can help you understand your options and what to do next.

Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys Can Help With Your Boat Injury Case

Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys has a long track record of success with boating accident cases. We can help you get the justice you deserve if you have or someone you love has been hurt in a boating accident in Alabama or Mississippi waters. We’ll meet with you individually to listen to your story, identify your options, and help you decide what to do next.

We aggressively pursue justice through careful research and bold strategies. Thanks to the results of a thorough investigation and aggressive tactics, we helped reach a $290,000 settlement for Karen, who was injured on shore by a drunk boater traveling at high speeds.

To learn more about your options, steps to take to protect your case, and how the Andy Citrin team can help, please schedule a free, confidential consultation. Reserve your time today by contacting our team at 251-888-8888 or complete our online form.


National Safety Council. (n.d.). Recreational Boating: Stay Safe on the Water. Retrieved from

U.S. Coast Guard. (2020, June 4). 2019 Recreational Boating Statistics. Retrieved from

U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety Division. (n.d.). Accident Reporting. Retrieved from 

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.


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