Boating accidents occur when boat operators fail to avoid collision with other boats or underwater objects — but in almost every case, you can only take legal action when another boat operator is involved in the accident. Hit an underwater rock, and you can’t exactly sue the rock! In any case, there are a number of steps you should take during and after a boating accident.
First and foremost, call the coast guard, police, or whatever authority is responsible for the jurisdiction in which you are operating your boat. Inform them of what to expect when they arrive on the scene. You’ll want to let them know if either boat is in danger of sinking and whether or not rescue services might be necessary.
Second, try to conduct a rescue if you’re trained to do so. Throw a life jacket or safety ring if the other boat is sinking. Do not leave your boat unless absolutely necessary.
If the area is heavily trafficked, then ask other boat operators to move aside and remain in the immediate vicinity so police can question them. Take witness statements if and when appropriate. You might need those statements in court later. Your personal injury attorney will certainly want to see them.
Once the accident scene is cleared and you are free to leave, seek medical attention for any injuries. Be sure to keep all bills and medical documents in a folder or binder. Add the witness testimony, police statements, and your own written explanation of what happened. This will all help your lawyer determine whether or not a case can be built.
Keep a journal as you recover. This will help you organize your thoughts and give you a better chance of recollecting the events that occurred. A judge might be interested to know how you felt when determining damages for pain and suffering.