With so many boats on the water right now, it is important to know what the rules are so everyone stays safe. However, it is important to know what to do if you are injured in a boating accident.
Transport Canada has established a course and a test for boat operators to be sure they know the rules of the water. Everyone who operates a boat in Canada requires a Canadian Pleasure Craft Operator Card from Transport Canada, which is a drivers’ licence for boats. The course is online and the exam is 50 multiple choice questions you must answer in one hour 15 minutes. If you fail to pass the test twice, you must retake the online course before you can write again. The course and exam are open to anyone over the age of 12 but there are restrictions as to supervision and horsepower for operators under the age of 16.
A pleasure craft is any vessel that is used for pleasure, recreation, or daily living (like a houseboat) with a motor over 10 horsepower.
One of the things you learn in the pleasure craft operator course is who has the right of way. This is governed by Collision Regulations and is the same on lakes, rivers, or the ocean. It is the ‘rules of the road’ for water.
Two very important aspects of owning and operating a boat are licencing (also known as registration) and insurance, which is separate, unlike motor vehicles where the licence plate and insurance are issued together by ICBC.
All pleasure craft require a Transport Canada Licence which is valid 10 years. You must licence your boat within 90 days of purchase and display the Transport Canada licence number on both sides of the boat’s bow as identification. Failure to do so comes with a $250 fine.
Insurance for boats is for the same purpose as car insurance, it covers damage to your boat and third party liability coverage in case you hurt someone while operating the boat.
It is very important to have sufficient insurance when operating a boat, particularly on a busy waterway where accidents can easily happen, speeds are often high and there are many people on each boat.
If you are hurt by a boat or while on a boat, it is important to get medical attention right away. Blood loss in water can be fatal and your core body temperature can drop quickly as well.
If you are able, get photos or write down all relevant details of the boat and operator that injured you or if unable, get someone to do that for you or call the police to record important details.
The operator of the boat is always responsible for the operation of the boat and consequences of any accidents that they cause, but sometimes the owner of the boat can also be responsible if the boat was faulty and that is what caused the accident.
If you are injured, the information you need includes 5 things:
· Transport Canada licence number of the boat
· Licence card from the owner in case numbers on the boat is no longer valid
· Boater licence of the operator
· Insurance details (carrier and policy number)
· Regular ID of boat operator (DL or Health Card)
Also, be sure to get the name and contact information for any witnesses at the scene and call a lawyer to explain the next steps you will need to take.