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 VDGIF under certain circumstances.
When a Report is Required
A formal, written report must be filed with VDGIF when there is:
- Damage over $2000 by or to the vessel or its equipment;
- Injury (requiringmedical help beyond First Aid) or loss of life; and/or
- Disappearance of any person froma 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 VDGIF 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 (pages 65-66) can also be obtained from local law enforcement authorities, Department Conservation Police Officers, VDGIF website, and all Department offices. You may submit the completed forms in person or send them to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Boating Accident, 7870 Villa Park Dr., Suite 400, P.O. Box 90778, Henrico, VA 23228. 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.