Boating can be a great recreational activity, or you may use your vessel in the course of your daily business. Regardless of the use, size and features of your boat, the state of New York has boating laws in place to make sure you and others are safe on the water. Although there are many regulations that you must follow to prevent an accident, once you are involved in one, you must follow specific protocol.
Any time a law enforcement official gives you a directive on the water, you must comply. This includes any audible or visual signal. Authorities who have jurisdiction over the New York waterways include the following:
- Local, county and state police officers
- State Park officials
- U.S. Coast Guard officers
- Harbormasters and Bay constables
- Officials from the Department of Environmental Conservation
The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees boating accidents, so you must report any incident to this agency using the official boating accident report form. How much time you have to complete and submit this form depends on the circumstances of the incident. For example, you have five days to report property damage over $1,000. However, if you do not know who owns the property in question, the nearest law enforcement authorities must be notified, as well, and you only have 24 hours to report it to them.
You cannot leave the scene of an accident without ensuring that no one is injured, and that there is no property damage. If someone is injured, or the situation places them in danger, your first responsibility is to provide whatever help you can, barring any endangerment to your own passengers and boat. You must report a disappearance, injury or death to law enforcement immediately, and after that, you have 48 hours to file the boating accident report form. You must also provide your contact and boat information to the other boat owner and any injured person.
While this information is important for you to know before operating a vessel, it is not intended as legal advice.