Reporting Boat Accidents
WHEN & HOW TO REPORT A BOATING ACCIDENT
According to state law, a boat owner/operator must report their boat accident to California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) if the accident results in death, disappearance or injury to a person requiring medical attention beyond first aid, damage to a vessel or other property exceeding $500 or complete loss of a vessel, regardless of value. Boat accidents must be reported within specific time periods.
Reports must be submitted to DBW within 48 hours of an accident that involves:
- Death occurring within 24 hours of the accident
- Disappearance of a person
- Injury beyond first aid
Reports must be submitted to DBW within 10 days of an accident that involves:
- A person who dies more than 24 hours after an accident occurs
- Property damage exceeding $500, or there is a complete loss of a vessel
What happens if I don't report?
Failure to submit an accident report as required by law is a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000 or imprisonment not to exceed six months or both.
Please complete a boating accident report (Form BAR)
Reports should be signed and mailed to:
California Division of Boating and Waterways
Attn: Boating Accident Unit
PO Box 942896
Sacramento, CA 94296-0001
When submitting reports by mail, keep a copy for your records.
For a Peace Officer, Harbor Policeman, and First Responders:
Please complete a vessel accident report for at boatingandwaterways.com.
In order to file an accident report online you will first need to create a free account on the Accident Tracker webpage, and follow the instructions to properly submit the report.
DBW collects and analyzes boating accident reports to develop safety strategies and make recommendations in the interest of reducing boating accidents, injuries and fatalities on California’s waterways.
Information contained in the reports is confidential and may not be used in prosecuting any violations which may have occurred, nor in civil litigation of any kind.
Each year, DBW releases a comprehensive study of boating accidents in California, which provides information on accidents, fatalities, and injuries. This report, California Boating Accident Report, includes special topics such as personal watercraft, youth operators, and fatal alcohol-related accidents, and is available upon request.
ACCIDENT REPORT FORMS
Boating Accident Report (BAR) Form
Boat Operator Use
Vessel Accident Report (VAR) Form
Law Enforcement Use