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Virginia Watercraft Owner's Guide

Boating Accident Reporting

As the operator of a vessel, you are required by law to file a formal, written report of your boating accident with the DGIF under certain circumstances.

When a Report is Required

A formal, written report must be filed with DGIF when there is:

  • Damage over $2000 by or to the vessel or its equipment;
  • Injury (requiring medical help beyond First Aid) or loss of life; and/or
  • Disappearance of any person from a vessel.

To inform Law Enforcement about an accident that has just occurred, please call your county or city law enforcement group, sheriff's office, Conservation Police Officer, or Department dispatcher (800-237-5712) or 911.

When a person dies or disappears as a result of an occurrence that involves a vessel or its equipment, the operator is required by law to notify the DGIF in Richmond, Virginia, or the most immediately available Department Conservation Police Officer without delay and by the quickest means possible.

Time Frame for Reporting

Written reports must be filed within the following time frames from the boating accident:

  • 48 hours if a person dies within 24 hours of the accident;
  • 48 hours if a person involved is injured and cannot perform usual activities;
  • 48 hours if a person disappears from a vessel;
  • 10 days if an earlier report is not required but becomes necessary; and/or
  • 10 days if the boat or property damage is in excess of $2000 or total boat loss.

How to File a Written Accident Report

Boating Accident Report forms are obtained from local law enforcement authorities, Department Conservation Police Officers, DGIF website, and all Department offices. You may submit the completed forms in person or send them to the Law Enforcement Division-Boating Accident, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, 4010 W. Broad St., P.O. Box 11104, Richmond, Virginia, 23230-1104. The boat operator or owner usually completes the form unless she/he is physically unable to do so.

Duty to Stop and Render Assistance

It is the duty of every operator involved in a collision to stop and offer assistance. Operators involved in a collision, who knowingly fail to comply with this law when the collision or accident results in serious bodily injury to, or the death of, any person, shall be guilty of a Class 6 Felony. When a collision or accident results in only property damage, the operator who does not comply with this law shall be guilty of a Class 1 Misdemeanor.