Senate BillNo. 457


Introduced by Senator Monning

February 21, 2013


An act to amend Section 656 of the Harbors and Navigation Code, relating to vessels.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

SB 457, as introduced, Monning. Vessels: collisions and accidents.

Existing law regulates the operation and equipment of vessels subject to the jurisdiction of this state. Existing law specifies that it is the duty of the operator of a vessel involved in a collision, accident, or other casualty, so far as the operator can do so without serious danger to his or her own vessel, crew, and passengers, to render assistance to other persons affected by the collision, accident, or other casualty as may be practicable and necessary to save those persons from, or minimize any, danger caused by the collision, accident, or other casualty. Existing law further requires the owner, operator or other person on board a vessel involved in a casualty or accident to report the casualty or accident in accordance with regulations adopted by the Department of Boating and Waterways.

This bill would require that the other person required to report a casualty or accident on board the vessel be at least 18 years of age and physically capable of making the report. The bill would require that any public agency that is under contract with the department to receive law enforcement grant funds from the department, pursuant to regulations adopted by the department, complete and submit to the department a report for any boating accident to which it responds or for which it receives a report, and would make any public agency that fails to comply with that reporting requirement ineligible to receive any future law enforcement grant funds from the department for at least 5 fiscal years following the date of the failure to submit an accident report.

Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes. State-mandated local program: no.

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:

P2    1

SECTION 1.  

Section 656 of the Harbors and Navigation Code
2 is amended to read:

3

656.  

(a) It is the duty of the operator of a vessel involved in a
4collision, accident, or other casualty, so far as the operator can do
5so without serious danger to his or her own vessel, crew, and
6passengers, to render to other persons affected by the collision,
7accident, or other casualtybegin delete suchend deletebegin insert thatend insert assistancebegin delete as may beend deletebegin insert that isend insert
8 practicable andbegin delete as may beend delete necessary in order to save them from,
9or minimize any, danger caused by the collision, accident, or other
10casualty.

11(b) Any person who complies with subdivision (a) or Section
12656.1, 656.2, or 656.3 or who gratuitously and in good faith renders
13assistance at the scene of a vessel collision, accident, or other
14casualty without objection by any person assisted, shall not be held
15liable for any civil damages sought as a result of the rendering of
16assistance or for any act or omission in providing or arranging
17salvage, towage, medical treatment, or other assistance,begin delete whereend deletebegin insert ifend insert
18 the assisting person has acted as an ordinary, reasonably prudent
19person would have acted under the same or similar circumstances.

20(c) (1) An individual employee of a public entity engaged in
21rescue pursuant to this code shall not be a proper party defendant
22and shall be dismissed on motion, unless the employee has violated
23a statute other than a statute creating a general obligation to rescue
24or is guilty of oppression, fraud, malice, or the conscious disregard
25of the safety of others.

26(2) The public entity employing such an individual shall be
27liable in civil damagesbegin delete whereend deletebegin insert ifend insert the individual employee has failed
28to act as a reasonably prudent person would have acted under the
29same or similar circumstances.

30(3) begin deleteWhere end deletebegin insertIf end inserta public entity has given a reasonable printed,
31electronic, or verbal warning of the danger causing the distress
32begin delete whichend deletebegin insert thatend insert created the necessity for the rescue, and there has been
33a reasonable opportunity for the party in distress to receive the
P3    1warning, the public entitybegin delete shall beend deletebegin insert isend insert liable only for acts or
2omissions of its employeebegin delete whichend deletebegin insert thatend insert were taken in a grossly
3negligent manner.

4(d) The owner, operator, or other personbegin insert who is at least 18 years
5of age and physically capableend insert
on board a vessel involved in a
6casualty or accident shall report the casualty or accident in
7accordance with regulations adopted by the department. The
8department shall adopt regulations to maintain a uniform casualty
9and accident reporting system for vessels subject to this code in
10conformity with federal casualty and accident reporting regulations
11promulgated by the United States Coast Guard or any successor
12begin delete theretoend deletebegin insert to those regulationsend insert. Consistent with Public Law 92-75
13and the federal regulations contained in Part 173 of Title 33 of the
14Code of Federal Regulations, a peace officer or harbor policeman,
15upon receiving an initial report of a casualty involving the death
16or disappearance of a person as a result of a boating accident, shall
17immediately forward the report, by quickest means available, to
18the department.

begin insert

19(1) A public agency that is under contract with the department
20to receive law enforcement grant funds from the department shall,
21pursuant to regulations adopted by the department, complete and
22submit to the department a report for any boating accident to which
23it responds or for which it receives a report.

end insert
begin insert

24(2) A public agency that has received any law enforcement grant
25funds from the department that does not submit an accident report
26as required under paragraph (1) shall be ineligible to receive
27future grant funds for at least five fiscal years following the date
28of the failure to submit a report.

end insert

29(e) Neither the report required by this section nor any action
30taken by the department with regard to the report shall be referred
31to in any way, or be any evidence of negligence or due care of any
32party, at the trial of any action at law to recover damages.

33(f) All required accident reports, and supplemental reports, shall
34be without prejudice to the individual so reporting and shall be for
35the confidential use of the department and any peace officer
36actually engaged in the enforcement of this chapter, except that
37the department shall disclose the names and addresses of persons
38involved in, or witnesses to, an accident, the registration numbers
39and descriptions of vessels involved, and the date, time, and
40location of an accident to any person who may have a proper
P4    1interestbegin delete thereinend deletebegin insert in that informationend insert, including thebegin delete operatorsend deletebegin insert operatorend insert
2 involved or the legal guardianbegin delete thereofend deletebegin insert of that operatorend insert, the parent
3of a minor operator, the authorized representative of an operator,
4or any person injuredbegin delete thereinend deletebegin insert,end insert and the owners of vessels or property
5damagedbegin delete therebyend deletebegin insert, in the accidentend insert.

6(g) This section applies to foreign vessels, military or public
7recreational-type vessels, vessels owned by a state or subdivision
8begin delete thereofend deletebegin insert of a stateend insert, and ship’s lifeboats otherwise exempted from
9this chapter pursuant to Section 650.1.



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