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Q & A
Boating Accident Information
A member of my family was involved in a boating accident and we need information about the operator of the other boat involved in the collision. Will the Commission provide me with such information?
The Fish and Boat Code and our boating regulations contain guidelines on what information may and may not be released concerning boating accidents. Boating accident reports are reports submitted by the operators involved in boating accidents. These reports are confidential and are filed without prejudice to the person filing the report. No boating accident report or any part thereof or any statement contained therein is admissible in evidence in any civil or criminal proceeding. These reports are not subject to discovery in litigation. The Fish and Boat Commission has successfully resisted attempts to subpoena these reports. 30 Pa. C.S. 5503.

The Commission will, on written request, furnish any person an abstract of information about a boating accident. This abstract contains the date, time, location, weather conditions, names and addresses of the operators, passengers and witnesses and a description of the watercraft involved in the accident. These reports are prepared by the Bureau of Boating and Access. They may be requested by writing to:

Boating Accident Abstract
PA Fish & Boat Commission
Bureau of Boating and Access
P.O. Box 67000
Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000

Note that the Commission can only provide such information as it has in its possession. We sometimes receive requests for abstracts before the necessary information has been submitted by operators and investigators. The Commission provides partial information in such cases.

In the cases of certain boating accidents, the Commission may assign a waterways conservation officer or other employee to complete an accident investigation report. The employee who completes this report is not given access to the boating accident reports submitted by the operator(s) of the boats involved in the accident. These investigation reports are not public records because they are investigatory in nature and contain information that is not releasable as a public record under the Fish and Boat Code. However, such reports are subject to subpoena or demands for production of documents under established legal procedures.

Finally, the Commission staff may conduct in-depth accident prevention investigations in some cases. The person preparing these reports reviews all available information including the boating accident reports submitted by the operator(s). They are for internal use only in preventing accidents and are not releasable since they contain confidential and privileged information.

Related topics
PA Boating Handbook
Frequently asked questions
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