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Boating Accidents in Colorado

Boating in Colorado is a pretty safe activity, thanks largely to the efforts of the Colorado Boating Safety Program, which has been working to keep the state's waterways safe for boating enthusiasts for more than 50 years. Even so, boating accidents happen, and it's important to understand the causes and what to do after an accident.

Common Accident Types and Causes

According to the state's annual boating safety report, in 2011 the most common type of accident in Colorado was collisions between vessels, followed by flooding and swamping, collisions with fixed objects, and capsizing. The most common primary cause of accidents was operator inexperience, followed closely by carelessness and recklessness, and weather conditions.

These facts suggest that a large number of boat collisions are caused by human error. Even weather-related accidents can have a human component if you choose to take a boat out on the water knowing that poor weather conditions are forecast. If someone gets hurt due to your actions, you could face a lot of guilt as well as significant legal problems.

If you were injured in a boat accident you believe was the result of human error, you should talk with a boat accident lawyer. But don't wait too long. Boating injuries are a type of personal injury case, and the statute of limitations in Colorado is two years for these cases, unless maritime law applies.

After a Boat Accident

If you are the boat's operator, you must report to the state's Division of Parks & Wildlife any accident that involved:

  • A serious injury needing more than first-aid care

  • A death or a disappearance where death is suspected

  • Property damage of $500 or more

Failure to file the required report within five days is a misdemeanor under state law, and you could face charges for not doing so.

Federal reporting regulations are similar to Colorado's, but require reports to be made within 48 hours in cases of death, disappearance, or serious injury. The property damage limit is higher at $2,000. Colorado's Division of Parks and Wildlife will forward your report to the U.S. Coast Guard, as necessary.

You should also exchange contact information and vessel IDs with others involved in the incident.

Contact a Boat Accident Attorney

As the boat's operator, you should contact a lawyer to protect your interests in case you face criminal or civil charges for losses resulting from the incident.

If you are a victim of a boating accident, you may be able to sue or reach a settlement to recover some or all of your losses, such as medical expenses or loss of property.

Whatever your role in the accident, talking with an experienced attorney can help you determine how to proceed. To find a Colorado boating accident lawyer near you, call 877-913-7222.