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Florida is a state that is known for its watersports. As the state is a peninsula that is surrounded on three sides by water, there is ample opportunity to get out and enjoy the water and sunshine.

One of the most popular water activities is boating. In fact, state officials announced that the number of registered recreational vessels is now over 1 million as of March 2022. That makes Florida the state with the most registered boats, ahead of Minnesota, which is known as the land of 10,000 lakes.

With so many boats on the water, there are bound to be accidents. In 2020, there were 836 reported boating accidents in Florida, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

If you recently were in a boating accident, or if you are just being smart and planning ahead, in this post we’ll go over what you should do in the event of a boating accident in Florida.

What do you need to do after a Florida boat accident?

According to Florida Statute 327.30, if you are in a boat accident you should stop your vessel and remain at the scene. If the scene is dangerous, you should try to move somewhere safe, but not too far from the scene. The operator of a boat in an accident is required by law to give the other person their name, address, and the name of their vessel in writing. If you were in an accident with an unattended vessel, you are required to take reasonable steps to contact the owner of that vessel.

When is a boat operator required to assist?

Florida Statute 327.30 also stipulates that boaters are required to assist other people involved in the accident. In the law, this is written as giving “such assistance as is practicable and necessary in order to save them from or minimize any danger.”

Some examples of when you are required to assist might be:

  • If the other boat is in danger (sinking, on fire, in the way of other boats, immobilized, etc.)
  • If there are people that are seriously injured

When should you report a boat accident in Florida?

In Florida, you should report any boat accident where:

  • There was a death
  • Someone was seriously injured (requiring more than just first aid)
  • Someone disappeared
  • There was over $2,000 worth of damage to a boat
  • There was a total loss of a vessel

You can find the full law here: Florida Statute 327.30.

Who should you report a Florida boat accident to?

In Florida, you can report your boat accident to:

  • the Division of Law Enforcement of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
  • the sheriff of the county within which the accident occurred
  • or the police chief of the municipality within which the accident occurred, if applicable.

According to Florida law what must be aboard a vessel?

In Florida, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, you must have the following aboard your boat:

  • One wearable USCG-approved personal flotation device (PFD) per person aboard
  • One USCG-approved throwable Type IV personal flotation device (PFD) if your vessel is longer than 16 feet
  • Children under the age of 6 must wear a USCG-approved Type I, II, or III personal flotation device (PFD) while onboard a vessel under 26 feet in length while the vessel is underway.
  • Vessels with built-in fuel tanks or enclosed areas must have a fire extinguisher. 
  • All vessels should carry a noise-producing device, like a whistle.
  • Vessels under 16 feet should have three visual distress signals approved for nighttime use.
  • Vessels over 16 feet should have three distress signals for nighttime use and three for daytime use (or three combination distress signals).
  • Vessels should display navigation lights between sunset and sunrise, as well as during times of reduced visibility like during fog or rain.

Boat accident attorney Florida

If you were in a boat accident where someone was seriously injured or died, there was extensive damage, or you feel you are owed compensation, you should speak with a Florida boat accident attorney.

At Landau Law, we’ve helped Florida residents recover over $10 million in compensation. Contact us today to schedule a free case consultation with one of our Florida boat accident lawyers. We don’t charge you anything until we collect for you!