Everything You Need to Know About Boating Accident Laws in Tennessee

boating accident

Tennessee is one of the leading states in terms of recreational waterways, due to the fact that there are many lakes and rivers in the state that people enjoy spending time on. Even though most people try to be as safe as possible, accidents do happen. We want to talk about everything you need to know about boating accident laws in Tennessee and how you can stay safe.

Requirements for Being Out on the Water

boat accidentIn order to operate a boat on any river or lake, a Tennessee resident born after January 1, 1989 must have a Boating Safety Education Certificate to show completion of the TWRA Boating Safety exam. To legally be out on the water, you need a Tennessee Certificate of Number, also known as a registration card, and validation decals. Every boat must have at least 1 USCG-approved, wearable personal flotation device and 1 throwable personal flotation device.

Unlawful Operation

In Tennessee, the law states that it is unlawful to operate a boat in a reckless or negligent manner. Reckless operation is defined as “any act that endangers the life, limb, or property of another person.” Here are examples of illegal reckless operation of a boat:

•Operating a boat in a swimming area
•Weaving the boat through congested waterway traffic
•Steering towards an object or person and swerving at the last possible moment to avoid collision
•Jumping in the wake of another boat in a way that endangers life, safety, or property
•Disturbing wildlife with your boat

boat in the waterSomething else that is considered unlawful operation is when drivers use improper speed or distance. Some examples of this unlawful behavior include:

•Operating at an excessive speed in a crowded area or in an area with restricted visibility
•Making a boat go at a greater speed than “slow, no wake speed” in areas that have been marked as “no wake”
•Operating at greater than “idle speed” within 300 feet of a commercial vessel dock
•Jumping the wake of another vessel within 100 feet of the vessel

Other examples of unlawful operation include obstructing navigation of another vessel.

Boating Under the Influence

Just like with driving, it is illegal to operate a boat while being under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Alcohol and drugs can cause impaired balance, blurry vision, poor coordination, impaired judgement, and many other aspects you need to have when operating a vessel. According to the TN Boating Handbook, alcohol is a major factor in boating accidents.

What to Do if You’re in a Boating Accident

two boats on the waterAccording to the boating accident laws in Tennessee, if you are in an accident, you must immediately stop your vessel at the scene. You should assist anyone who is injured unless doing so would endanger other passengers or the vessel.

Everyone who is involved in a boating accident must immediately contact TWRA. The operator of the boat must also file a written report with TWRA. This accident report must be filed within 48 hours if a person dies or disappears or someone requires medical treatment beyond first aid. If damages exceed $2,000, the accident must be reported within 10 days.

Not reporting a boating accident is considered illegal in Tennessee and can result in prosecution by the TWRA. A report from a boating accident can be used in a civil case.

Now you know more about the boating accident laws in Tennessee. Have you been in a boating accident? Reach out to one of our personal injury lawyers today to see how they can help you.

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