The U.S. Coast Guard hopes that you're never involved in a boating accident. But if you are, Federal Law requires that you file an accident report. Here is the proper protocol, according to the Coast Guard. 

Federal law requires the operator or owner of a recreational vessel to file a boating accident report with the State reporting authority if the recreational vessel is involved in an accident that results in any of the following:

  • A person dies
  • A person is injured and requires medical treatment beyond first aid
  • A person disappears from the vessel under circumstances that indicate death or injury
  • Damage to vessels and other property totals $2,000 (lower amounts in some states and territories).
  • The boat is destroyed.

Report Timelines:

  • Within 48 hours if a person, dies within 24 hours, is injured and requires medical treatment beyond first aid, or disappears from the vessel under circumstances that indicate death or injury.
  • Within 10 days of the occurrence or death if earlier reporting is not required.

The information you provide is used to establish regulations and safety standards, identify
and remedy boat defects, educate recreational boaters, capture statistical data, investigate
accidents, and measure the effectiveness of boating safety programs.

Accident Reporting Forms
Forms may be found on the Coast Guard's Directive and Publications Division Website at http://www.dcms.uscg.mil/Our-Organization/Assistant-Commandant-for-C4IT-CG-6/The-Office-of-Information-Management-CG-61/Forms-Management/CG-Forms/ or entering the form numbers into a web search engine.

CG-3865 Recreational Boating Accident Report

Most states and territories accept this form, although some have their own.

A listing of contacts for the state's primary boating authority may be found at https://www.nasbla.org/about-nasbla/boating-contacts . Reports are generally sent to the Boat Accident Report Database administrator.

NOTE: Print this out and keep it handy on board! You just never know when you might need it. 

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