Boating Accidents

It is often from the unpleasant experiences of others that the rest of us can learn how to be safe on the water.

The Washington State Legislature recognized this fact, and charged the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission with the responsibility to develop an accident reporting system. By law, a boat operator/owner must report any accident causing damage over $500, requiring medical treatment beyond first aid, loss of life or disappearance of any person engaged in recreational boating. Contact the local law enforcement agency or the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission for boating accident reports; commonly called a BAR. Reports in death and injury cases must be submitted within 48hrs; Reports in other cases are required within 10 days. When the operator is incapacitated, the owner or law enforcement agency shall complete the report.

Accidents & Injuries

Serious injury accidents, fatalities or disappearances are required to be investigated by local law enforcement authorities.

The boating accident report that you complete is confidential and may help save lives in the future. The report will be used by State Parks only to develop boating safety programs. The report cannot, by law, be used in any court or trial resulting from the accident.

When an accident happens the vessel's operator must offer practical assistance to save the people aboard the stricken vessel from danger, when doing so does not seriously endanger the operator's own vessel and passengers.

Good Samaritans

State law has a "Good Samaritan" clause for mariners who offer help in an emergency:

Under no circumstances may the rendering of assistance or other compliance with this section be evidence of the liability of such operators for the collision, accident, or casualty.

Any person who complies with subsection (1) of this section or who gratuitously and in good faith renders assistance at the scene of a vessel collision, accident, or other casualty, without objection of the person assisted, shall not be held liable for any civil damages as a result of the rendering of assistance or for any act or omission in providing or arranging salvage, towage, medical treatment, or other assistance, where the assisting person acts as any reasonably prudent person would have acted under the same or similar circumstances. (Reference: RCW 79A.60.200)

More Information

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Spokane County Marine Enforcement Unit at 509-477-7608.