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How, when and why to report boating accidents in Louisiana

Even if they never need to do so, every Louisiana resident who owns or uses a boat should understand how to report a boating accident to the appropriate authorities. By taking a few precautions as soon as possible, owners and users can minimize any loss resulting from an accident and reduce the number of casualties. Responsible behavior on the part of a boater can even save lives.

All boat operators involved in crashes or collisions have a legal obligation to stop their vessels immediately at the scene and help any person who may have been injured in an accident. The operator of the boat who causes a boating accident must also take all reasonable steps to minimize any dangers resulting from the incident unless these steps would imperil his or her own ship, crew or passengers.

Boat operators must also provide their own personal information such as name, address and telephone number as well as identifying numbers of their vessels to others involved in an accident, especially anyone who has been injured or the owner of any property that has been damaged.

If the vessel involved in a crash or collision is a recreational vessel and the accident injures anyone or causes the death or disappearance of a person, then the operator of the other vessel must report the incident at the earliest opportunity to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Law Enforcement or to the Louisiana State Police or the nearest law enforcement department. Operators are also obliged to report in case of the complete loss of a vehicle or if damage to property exceeds $500.

Going for a boating trip is supposed to be a relaxing event, but in case of an accident the boat owner and all others involved should act responsibly and report the accident. It may also be possible to hold the other party accountable in case of injuries in the crash.

Source:, "Boating Incident Reporting," accessed on Jan. 9, 2015

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