Godwin, Morris, Laurenzi & Bloomfield, P.C.

What does Tennessee law say about reporting boating accidents?

Those who have been injured in a boating accident in Tennessee should know what the law says about reporting those accidents. It is important to follow all of the proper legal steps to get a positive outcome in this difficult situation. Understanding the maritime law can help make this possible.

To begin with, boaters who have been involved in an accident have to report it to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, or the TWRA. This report has to be made right away, and it cannot be delayed.

The maximum timeframe to report a serious accident is 48 hours. This is true for any accident in which a person is seriously injured -- to the point that first aid treatment is not enough to help them -- killed, or lost in the water.

In some cases, there could be significant property damage to a boat, a dock or something of this nature. If the cost of that damage is going to be more than $2000, the report has to be made in no more than 10 days.

It is important for boat operators to know that these reports are mandatory, not recommended. In fact, it could be regarded as a criminal offense if the report is not made. A report has to be sent to the TWRA by not only the driver who was at fault, but by any operator who played a part in the incident.

If someone is hurt or killed, felony charges could result for those responsible. These charges could bring about a fine of $10,000, and they could lead to 15 years in prison. Furthermore, injured parties may have a right to seek additional compensation for medical bills.

Source: Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, "Boating Regulations" Sep. 04, 2014

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