If you get involved in a boat accident in Arizona, the immediate aftermath can be chaotic and overwhelming. It’s important to know what to do to ensure your safety, protect yourself and others, and demand fair financial compensation for your injuries. According to data from the United States Coast Guard, 162 total boating accidents were reported in Arizona in 2020. Here are the steps that you should take if you get into a boat accident.
Get to Safety
If you were thrown overboard or the boat sank, stay afloat by swimming, grabbing floating debris or – ideally – using a life jacket that the boat owner legally should have kept on board the vessel. If there are others in the water who need assistance or cannot swim, do your best to assist them without endangering yourself. Get to the nearest land, dock or shore and get out of the water as soon as possible. Staying in the water can run the risk of drowning, electric shock or exposure to toxins like gas.
Check for Injuries and Render Aid
Check yourself and everyone else involved in the boat accident for injuries. Look for bleeding, bruising, swelling or people who are unconscious. If it appears that someone has inhaled water or drowned, start performing CPR by doing chest compressions until paramedics arrive.
Call for Help
If there is a working phone or radio available, use it to contact the Coast Guard and ask for help. Dial 911 using VHF-FM Channel 16 (156.8 MHz). Otherwise, try to flag down another boater and ask them to call the Coast Guard for you. Be sure to mention if anyone is injured or missing. Stay where you are while you wait for the Coast Guard to arrive so that they can find you. If you have flares or visual distress signals, use them.
Gather Information and Evidence
When the Coast Guard arrives, they will offer medical assistance, ask questions, interview those involved and gather evidence to create a report that details exactly what happened. Be sure to give the Coast Guard your side of the story but don’t admit fault for the accident. It is also helpful to gather evidence and information yourself. This includes the name of the boat owner and/or operator, the vessel number, the exact coordinates of your location, the names of those involved, the names of eyewitnesses, and photographs and videos of the scene.
Get Medical Care
Once you’ve been cleared to leave the scene of the boat accident, get professional medical care without delay. You may have injuries that you don’t notice yet, such as delayed symptoms due to adrenaline. A doctor can diagnose any injury or condition that you may have and treat you immediately.
Report the Accident
If you did not notify the Coast Guard and request assistance at the scene of the accident, you may need to submit a written report instead. State law in Arizona says that you must report any boat accident that causes injuries, casualties, missing persons or more than $500 in property damage to the Arizona Game and Fish Department within five days. You can file this report online or mail it to Arizona Game and Fish Department, Attn: Boating Law Administrator, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, AZ, 85086.
Contact a Boat Accident Lawyer in Arizona
When you’re ready to seek financial compensation for your boat accident, contact an attorney in Arizona. A lawyer can represent you from the very beginning of an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit to prevent an insurance claims adjuster from taking advantage of you. Your lawyer will share your goal of wanting to maximize your financial recovery. You can request a free consultation at The Law Offices of John Phebus anytime by calling (623) 400-5675. We’ll help you with all of the steps that you should take after a boat accident.