Boating accidents

Reporting an accident

A boater who is involved in an accident must stop his or her vessel immediately at the scene of the accident and assist injured people or anyone in danger, unless doing so would endanger his or her own vessel or passengers. In some circumstances, the boater operating the vessel must submit a written accident report.

Accident report forms are available from Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and local law enforcement marine units. Washington State law requires the operator of a recreational vessel involved in an accident to file a Washington Boat Accident Report (PDF) when:

  • Loss of life occurs
  • Injury occurs which requires medical treatment beyond first aid
  • A person disappears from a vessel under circumstances that indicate death or injury
  • Property damage is in excess of $2,000, or there is complete loss of a vessel

If there is an injury, disappearance or death, a report must be submitted within 48 hours. Reports in other accidents must be submitted within 10 days. If the operator cannot submit the report, the owner of the vessel is responsible.

Reports must be submitted to the law enforcement agency (PDF) that has jurisdiction where the accident occurred. If you are not sure what agency has the authority, contact the Washington State Boating Program by email or call (360) 902-8555.

The report is confidential and will only be used by government agencies for statistical purposes. Failure of an operator to submit a report can result in a fine.

Boat Ran into Wooden Logs