6 Steps to Take After a Boating Accident in CA 

As leading injury and accident attorneys in Orange County, CA, we’ve helped numerous clients rebuild their lives after serious boating accidents. If you were injured in a water vessel accident caused by someone else, you may be eligible for compensation. Schedule a free consultation.

For countless residents of Orange County and other Californians across the state, boating is a beloved pastime. However, it’s not without its dangers. Hundreds of boating accidents occur each year in the Golden State, resulting in numerous injuries, and boating accidents are one of the major causes of California drowning incidents

What’s worse — many boating accident victims assume they are fully responsible for their own recoveries. Luckily, that’s not the reality. When a Californian is injured in a boating accident caused by someone else, they are eligible to pursue compensation for their losses. However, certain actions or inactions in the direct aftermath of a boating accident can seriously impact an injury victim’s ability to secure a fair settlement. 

If you enjoy recreational boating in California, it’s important to develop a basic understanding of how boating accident cases work, including crucial steps to take following a boating accident. This article will explore six steps to take after a boating accident in CA and how a personal injury attorney can help you navigate your legal options in the aftermath of a serious crash. 

At Case Barnett Law, we pride ourselves on offering top-tier legal services at no upfront cost to injury victims across the state. When you’re ready to explore your eligibility, contact our personal injury law firm to schedule a free case evaluation. 

1. Stop the Vessel & Assess the Situation

As soon as a water collision occurs, it’s critical to stop the vessel immediately. If any other boats are involved in the accident, ask them to remain at the scene; if they attempt to flee, do not pursue them. Instead, try to make mental notes about the boat and its operator to later report to the Coast Guard. Boating Accident in Orange County CA

After you’ve stopped the boat, you need to determine whether or not anyone on board requires emergency medical treatment. It’s also important to count the passengers to make sure everyone is accounted for, and no one has fallen in the water. If someone has gone overboard, do your best to save them from drowning

2. Contact Authorities for Immediate Assistance

After you’ve assessed the situation, move the boat out of harm’s way to ensure it isn’t hit by approaching vessels. Next, contact the appropriate authorities, including one or more of the following: 

  • Emergency services. Dial 911 immediately if you or your passengers are injured or in threat of danger. In addition to medical help, they can dispatch police or Coast Guard units to help. 
  • The U.S. Coast Guard. If the accident occurred in navigable waters and requires specialized marine assistance, call the U.S. Coast Guard. They can conduct rescues, towing, and other emergency water-related services. 
  • Harbor patrol or marine police. If the accident occurred within the harbor or near the shore, contacting the local harbor patrol or marine police may be the fastest way to get immediate assistance. 

Keep in mind that these services are for immediate assistance and should be contacted first. However, they are not the only groups you’ll need to inform about your accident. 

3. Document the Accident Scene

After you’ve called the authorities for immediate assistance, it’s a good idea to document the accident scene to the best of your ability. If you can, take pictures, videos, and notes that detail the accident and how it occurred. You should also try to document injuries and property damage. If there were witnesses to the accident, get their contact information; their testimony may prove invaluable if you pursue legal action. Any evidence you can gather will be useful in corroborating your account. 

4. Seek Medical Attention & Following Medical Guidance

Even if you think your injuries are minor, it’s a good idea to get examined by a medical professional as soon as you can. Seeking immediate medical attention is beneficial in multiple ways. It ensures you’re not suffering from a dangerous, unseen injury, and if you do have injuries, it establishes that they were caused during the accident and not subsequently. 

5. File a Written Report in the First 48 Hours

According to the California Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW), boating operators involved in an accident on California waterways must file written boating accident reports if any of the following are true: 

  • Passengers died or suffered significant injuries.
  • The boating accident resulted in a passenger disappearance.
  • The accident caused economic damages exceeding $500.
  • The accident resulted in the total loss of a vessel. 

Typically, written reports must be filed within 48 hours of the boating accident, but there are exceptions. If the vessel is completely lost or a passenger dies in the accident, operators may have 10 days to file their reports. 

6. Contact a Top Boating Accident Lawyer in California to Discuss Your Legal Options

For many Californians, boating is more than a pastime — it’s a way of life. If you are one of Orange County’s many boating enthusiasts, knowing the steps to take after a boating accident can save your life and strengthen your legal claim. Even so, boating accident claims are complex, and navigating them is difficult without legal assistance. 

Luckily, Case Barnett Law is here to help. Our experienced boating accident lawyer team can investigate your accident, gather evidence, help pinpoint the at-fault party, and negotiate with insurers on your behalf. If necessary, they can help take your boating accident lawsuit to court in pursuit of a maximum settlement. 

As with all personal injury cases, there is a time limit to file. So don’t delay — schedule a free consultation to review your legal options with a top-tier attorney today. 

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