When and How to Report a Boating Accident


Boating accident statistics are compiled under a state law requiring a boater who is involved in an accident to file a written accident report with the Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) in the case of: 

  • Death, disappearance or injury requiring medical attention beyond first aid
  • Damage to a vessel or other property exceeding $500; or
  • Complete loss of a vessel, regardless of value

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 within 10 days of an accident that involves:

  • A person who dies more than 24 hours after an accident occurs
  • Only property damage to vessels or property exceeding $500, or there is a complete loss of a vessel


The operator, owner, or, if neither are able, other party involved in an accident that fits one of the above criteria should complete a boating accident report (Form BAR-1)

Reports should be signed and mailed, or faxed to:

California Division of Boating and Waterways
Attn:  Boating Accident Unit
One Capitol Mall, Suite 410
Sacramento, CA  95814
Fax: (916) 327-1772

When submitting reports by mail, keep a copy for your records.


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.

For more information, please contact Amy Rigby at (916) 327-1848 or Johanna Naughton at (916) 327-1826.