Things to Do After Boating Accidents in California- Adamson Ahdoot

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What To Do After Boating Accidents

March 14, 2023 Alan Ahdoot
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The West Coast is home to some of the most beautiful bays and miles of coastline, which make California a frequent site for boating accidents.

According to a report from the California State Parks department of Boating and Waterways, more than 80,000 vessels are registered in Los Angeles County. Sadly, the county is also the highest when it comes to injuries and deaths related to boating.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about boating accidents, why they occur, and how to get proper compensation for your damages.

Types of Boating Accidents

Accidents don’t only happen on the road. Some of the most devastating collisions occur at sea. Despite the efforts of the state and the International Maritime Organization to govern waterway navigation, accidents cannot be fully avoided.

Here are some of the most commonly reported boating accidents:

  • Bow-on collisions or two vessels striking head-on
  • Side collisions or vessels struck on the side by another vessel
  • Stern collisions or a vessel running into the back of another
  • Allisions or a vessel hitting a stationary object like an iceberg or bridge

Common Causes of Boating Accidents

There are a lot of factors behind why boating accidents happen. Most cases are due to negligence or lack of duty of care. Below are the common causes of maritime accidents:

  • Operator inattention: riding too close to other vessels and operating a boat while texting or talking on a phone
  • Inclement weather: unsafe and undesirable water conditions such as zero visibility and big waves due to fog, storms, high winds, and ice flows at sea
  • Equipment failure: engine failure or malfunction and loss of maneuvering capabilities
  • Infrastructure: lowering the drawbridge too fast, which results in vessel collision
  • Human error: navigation failure due to misjudgment or overconfidence, communication error with other ships, and lack of proper monitoring
  • Reckless operation: boating while intoxicated, speeding, and disobeying boating laws

What to Do After a Boating Accident

One of the major causes of drowning incidents in California is boating accidents. If you have been a victim or know someone who has been injured in a boating accident, these are the things to remember after a vessel collision or a sinking accident.

Stop the Vessel Immediately

The first thing you must do is to check if any of the passengers are injured. Ensure the other vessels’ operators don’t flee at the scene. Then, determine if anyone onboard needs assistance or medical attention. Be attentive and count the number of passengers to identify if someone has fallen in the water and do your best to save them from drowning.

Contact the Coast Guard

Afterward, you should keep the boat out of harm’s way. Once you’ve moved away from approaching vessels, call the authorities immediately. Let the Coast Guard know that a boating accident occurred. You must provide the boat’s location and explain briefly what happened.

File a Written Report

If the incident occurred in California waterways, boating operators must report the accident immediately.

When is a written boating accident report required?

All reports must be submitted within 48 hours of the accident. However, if the vessel is completely lost and a passenger dies after more than 24 hours, you must file the report within 10 days. According to California’s Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW), the report must be made if any of the following happens:

  • Passengers died or got injured, excluding those who got first aid for cuts and abrasions
  • Disappearances
  • Economic damages that exceed $500
  • Total loss of a vehicle

Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer

Seek legal representation from a reputable and experienced law firm in California to get the best defense for your case. At Adamson Ahdoot, we strive to help you navigate the complex legal process to get the compensation you deserve. Our personal injury lawyers will assist you in filing a claim to recover damages.

a ruined boat partially submerged underwater
California law prohibits sailors from operating a vessel without a boater license.

What Constitutes the California Boat Accident Law?

California law requires boat operators to be 16 years of age or older. The state has only recently undergone plans to license all boaters. In 2018, California started a phase-in-by-age law where boat operators must undergo a safety course and carry the California Boater card. 

The California Harbors and Navigation Code (section 656) strictly prohibits the act of reckless sailing or operating any water vessel, such as water skis, an aquaplane, etc., in a negligent manner that endangers the life or property of a person. Moreover, boat operators cannot manipulate their vessels or any similar device under the influence of alcohol or drugs.


Boating under the influence (BUI) is considered a misdemeanor and is punishable by a minimum of 72 hours of jail time. In some cases, imprisonment can last from six months to one year with a fine of up to $1,000. But if the BUI causes death or injury, it can be charged as a felony with a minimum of 16 months up to 3 years of imprisonment. Furthermore, failure to file a written report is subject to $1,000 and six months of jail time.

What Does Boat Insurance Cover?

Boat insurance policies cover personal injuries and property damage. However, the amount of coverage varies depending on the type of water vessel. Your insurance also applies in the event of a boat disappearance.

Here’s what typical boat insurance covers:

  • Equipment, motor, and furnishings
  • Fuel spill liability
  • Hull value or actual cash value
  • Damage to another boat
  • Bodily injuries
  • Wrongful death

Seek Help from Adamson Ahdoot After a Boating Accident

If you were involved in a boating accident caused by someone else’s negligence, knowing your rights and legal options is important. Similar to car accidents, you are also entitled to demand compensation from the at-fault party. 

We’re a boutique firm with the experience and expertise of a larger practice. We’ve established relationships with experts and professionals in the legal arena to ensure our client’s cases are not undervalued. Along with these professionals, we’ll establish a strong case with hard evidence proving you need what we’re asking for.

Throughout the years, we’ve secured large settlements for clients suffering from serious injuries and can help you get full and fair funds for:

  • Past, present, and future medical bills
  • Rehabilitation
  • Anxiety and emotional distress
  • Physical pain
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Reduced earning capacity
  • Lost income
  • Disability
  • Loss of consortium and more

Call Adamson Ahdoot at (800) 310-1606 to arrange a consultation with one of our boating accident attorneys. If you have any questions or would like us to review your situation, we’ll happily answer them.

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Our team can better advise you on your legal options once we receive any available evidence about the incident.

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