A day on the water can quickly turn into a nightmare if you get in an accident. Collisions and other accidents involving yachts and recreational boats can present not only immediate safety risks but long-term health and financial risks as well. If you have been involved in an accident, here is an overview of what you need to know from Miami boating accident lawyer Keith Brais:

What Should You Do After a Boating Accident in South Florida?

At this point, we will assume that you are at home or in the hospital recovering. If you are still on the water, you should use your phone to dial *FWC or contact the U.S. Coast Guard on your VHF radio using channel 16 immediately.

So, you have been involved in a boating accident in South Florida. You need to make sure your repair bills (or replacement costs) and medical expenses are covered. You also want to make sure you receive just compensation for your pain and suffering, lost wages, and any other losses you incur as a result of the accident. What should you do?

1. Contact a Miami Boating Accident Lawyer

One of the most important steps for protecting your legal rights is to contact a Miami Boating accident lawyer as soon as possible. The reasons for this are twofold: (i) you need to rely on an experienced lawyer’s advice to avoid costly mistakes, and (ii) you need your lawyer to conduct an independent investigation of the accident as soon as possible. Any evidence that is available could be crucial for recovering just compensation, but many forms of evidence can disappear quickly—especially after an accident on the water.

2. Be Sure To Keep Any Photos or Videos You Took on the Water

If you took any photos or videos immediately before, during or after the accident, be sure to keep these on your phone or camera. Your photos and videos could also serve as key evidence of liability. If you had friends or family members onboard with you, ask them to keep their photos and videos as well.

3. Report the Accident to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)

If you have not reported your boating accident to the U.S. Coast Guard or the FWC, you should contact the FWC promptly. As the FWC explains, Florida and federal law require vessel operators to report accidents that involve any of the following:

  • Property damage in excess of $2,000 (including damage to boats, docks and other property)
  • Injury requiring treatment beyond first aid
  • Disappearance from a vessel indicating possible death or injury
  • Death

You can call the FWC using *FWC or at 888-404-3922. If an FWC Department of Law Enforcement (DLE) officer did not prepare a written Accident Investigation Report at the scene of the accident, you must also complete and submit the form available at the link above.

4. Report the Accident to Your Boat Insurance Company

If you have boat insurance, you should also report the accident to your insurance company promptly. Insurance companies typically require vessel owners to report all accidents, regardless of cause. If you were involved in a collision with another vessel and the other vessel’s owner has insurance, you should provide his or her policy information to your insurer.

5. Cooperate with the U.S. Coast Guard’s or FWC DLE’s Investigation

If the U.S. Coast Guard, FWC DLE or local police department conducts a follow-up investigation of your boating accident, you should cooperate to the extent that you can. If you have questions about what you should or shouldn’t say to the authorities, you should consult with your Miami boating accident lawyer.

6. Keep Notes and Records

For purposes of pursuing your claim, it is important to keep as much information as possible. Take notes detailing the accident, your interactions with the other boater (if any), and your interactions with the investigating authorities. Keep your copy of the Accident Investigation Report (if you receive one) and any other documentation you receive related to the accident. Keep copies of your medical and employment records as well.

7. Take Care of Your Health and Protect Your Legal Rights

Finally, and most importantly, you need to prioritize taking care of your health and protecting your legal rights. Follow your doctor’s and lawyer’s recommendations, seek advice if you have questions, and work with your lawyer to help him or her build your claim for just compensation.

What Not to Do After a Boating Accident in South Florida

In addition to taking these steps after a boating accident in South Florida, there are some mistakes you will want to avoid as well. For example, after a boating accident, you should not:

  • Post About Your Boating Accident on Social Media – For now, you should keep the details of the accident between you and your Miami boating accident lawyer.
  • Let the Insurance Companies Tell you Where To Go – When seeking medical care, getting an estimate for the damage to your boat, and getting your boat repaired, you should choose your own service providers.
  • Assume It Is Too Late To Prove Liability – While it is important that you act quickly after a boating accident, you should never assume that it is too late to prove what happened and who is responsible.
  • Try To Handle Your Situation On Your Own – From investigating on the water to calculating the long-term costs of your injuries, there are numerous aspects of your situation that require the insights of an experienced Miami boating accident lawyer.

Talk to an Experienced Miami Boating Accident Lawyer for Free

If you have been seriously injured in a boating accident in South Florida, the lawyers at Brais Law Firm can use their experience to help you recover. With offices in Miami, we represent clients in boating accident cases throughout South Florida and in the Atlantic Ocean. For a free, no-obligation consultation, call 800-499-0551 or tell us how we can contact you online now.

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