Boating accidents can have serious consequences for everyone involved. Even if you manage to escape without serious injury, you could be required to submit a formal, written report to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources detailing the circumstances and any ensuing damages.
When a Report Is Required for a Virginia Boating Accident
Virginia neither asks nor expects residents to file a report for minor boating accidents. Instead, state law only mandates the submission of a formal, written report when the accident caused:
- Damage over $2,000, whether to the vessel or its equipment
- Injury requiring any medical attention beyond first aid
- The disappearance of any person aboard the vessel
Under most circumstances, boating accident reports should be filed with the state Department of Wildlife Resources, which is responsible for law enforcement on most of Virginia’s waterways. The failure to submit a timely report is punishable as a Class 4 misdemeanor, which could include jail time of up to 6 months and fines of up to $1,000.
Boating-related deaths and disappearances should be immediately reported to the Coast Guard, the Department of Wildlife Resources, or the nearest available conservation officer.
The Time Limit for Reporting a Virginia Boating Accident
An accident report should be filed within:
- 48 hours, if there is a loss of life that occurs within 24 hours of the accident
- 48 hours, if a person is seriously injured and cannot resume ordinary life as a result
- 48 hours, if a person has disappeared during or in the immediate aftermath of the accident
- 10 days, if an earlier report was not required but becomes necessary due to a diagnosed injury or delayed death
- 10 days, if the boat was destroyed or it sustained more than $2,000 in damage
How to Report a Boat Accident in Virginia
The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources does not accept accident reports over the phone, email, or text message. After obtaining and filling out a boating accident form, available on the department's website, you should mail the completed copy to:
Law Enforcement Division – Boating Accident
Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources
P.O. Box 90778
Henrico, VA 23228
Why You Should File a Boat Accident Report
You may be required by law to file a boat accident report. However, a report could also act as a special form of insurance: if you were injured in a Virginia boat accident that was not your fault, you could be entitled to significant compensation through an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. By filing a report, you could retain and safeguard your right to compensation.
Additionally, if law enforcement is able to determine that the other party was at fault for your damages, you could cite the results of the investigation to make a compelling claim for damages.
What to Do If You Were Injured
If you have been injured in a Virginia boat accident, you should always:
- Report the accident to the state Department of Wildlife Resources.
- Seek immediate medical attention, even if you do not believe you have been seriously injured.
- Take photographs of the accident site and any visible damages, including property damage and physical injuries.
- Speak to eyewitnesses, and ask for their full name, phone number, and other contact information.
- Contact a Virginia boat accident attorney to ensure you file your claim before the state statute of limitations passes.
Contact Our Fairfax Personal Injury Lawyer Today
The Law Firm of Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi, PLLC can help you secure the compensation you need after a devastating Virginia boat accident. Our experienced team of attorneys believes that nobody should ever have to pay the price for another person’s negligence. Please send us a message online, or call us at 877-652-1553 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.