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California Boating 

A Course for Safe Boating


Chapter 5


Accident Prevention and Rescue

Accident Assistance

A vessel operator involved in an accident is responsible for helping other

people in the accident, as long as it does not endanger his or her vessel, crew

and passengers. Any person offering help in “good faith,” without objection by

anyone being helped, can’t be held liable for the results of that help.

Accident Reporting

If you are in a boating accident, you must report it to the Department of

Boating and Waterways or the local marine law enforcement authority. This

may be the local harbor patrol, county sheriff or the Coast Guard.

If a person dies, disappears, or needs medical attention beyond first aid,

the incident must be reported to the enforcement agency responsible for the

waterway.  Report the following information:



Date, time and exact location of the accident.



Name of each person who disappeared, died or was injured, and the vessels




Names and addresses of the owner, operator and passengers of all boats


A formal report must be filed with the Department of Boating and Waterways:



Within 48 hours if someone has disappeared or died, or if a person has

injuries that require more than first aid.



Within 10 days if the accident involves more than $500 damage, or the boat

is a complete loss.

A vessel operator involved in an accident that causes damage to a moored boat

or other property must notify the owner or person in charge of the property.

If the operator can’t locate the owner or person in charge of the property, the

operator involved in the accident must leave a written notice in an easy-to-see

place on the property damaged. This notice must give the name and address

of the operator and of the owner of the vessel involved, and a statement

describing what happened.


For information on reporting

accidents, visit