When Should You Report a Boating Accident in Virginia?
On any sunny weekend in the summer, the waters off Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Hampton are teeming with boating traffic. Although boating is great fun, Hampton Roads sees an upsurge of accidents on the water in June, July, and August.
Inexperience is a significant cause of boating wrecks. People on the water are not always sure when they should report a boating accident in Virginia.
It’s important to follow proper procedures after a boating accident to avoid charges. Just as drivers face trouble if they leave the scene if a car accident, you can face criminal charges for not reporting a boating mishap.
The Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries sets out the rules for reporting a boating accident in the Commonwealth.
As the operator of a boat or other vessel on the water, you are required by law to file a formal report with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries in certain circumstances.
When Should You File a Formal Written Report After a Virginia Boating Accident?
Operators of vessels must file a formal written report with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries when:
- The accident causes damage of more than $2,000 to a vessel or the equipment onboard;
- The accident causes an injury that requires medical help beyond first aid, or a fatality;
- Any occupants of vessels disappear.
What Happens if You Fail to Report an Accident?
People who fail to report a boating accident with significant damage, injuries, loss of life, or disappearance face being charged with a Class 4 Misdemeanor. If a boat occupant dies or disappears because of an incident involving a vessel or its equipment, the operator must by law notify the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries in Richmond, or the nearest Department Conservation Police Officer without delay and as soon as possible. You should call the emergency services in the case of a disappearance so as a rescue operation can be set up. To report an incident that just occurred, contact the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries dispatch at (804) 367- 1000.
What is the Time Frame for Reporting a Boating Accident?
The timeframe for reporting a Virginia boating accident is as follows. However, you should call the emergency services or the Coast Guard as soon as possible if a serious accident occurs on the water.
- 48 Hours if a death occurs within 24 hours of the accident;
- 48 hours if a boater or other occupant involved is injured and cannot perform usual activities;
- 48 hours following the disappearance of a person;
- 10 days if a more prompt report is not required but becomes necessary;
- 10 days if damage to the boat or other property on board is over $2000;
- 10 days for a total boat loss.
What is the Best Way to Report a Boating Crash?
You can obtain boating accident report forms from the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries website. You can also file a report with local law enforcement or Department of Conservation Police Officers. You may not always know the value of the damage caused to a boat. You should be aware $2,000 is a small damage threshold in the boating world.
Talk to a Virginia Beach Boating Accident Lawyer
There are many forms of boating accidents. They range from jet ski accidents in the Lynnhaven River or the Chesapeake Bay to sailors being hurt on the high seas. Boating accidents are often tragic and horrendous for everybody involved. Our Virginia Beach boating accident lawyers can help you with a claim. Call us today.