Amended in Senate April 30, 2013

Amended in Senate April 15, 2013

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 amended, 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.

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 abegin delete report, and mayend deletebegin insert report. It wouldend insert 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 up to 5 fiscal years following the date of the failure to submit an accident reportbegin insert, except upon a showing of good cause by that public agencyend insert. The bill would require the department to use reasonable means to obtain from the public agency a complete report for any boating accident to which it responds or for which it receives a report. The bill would further require the department to use reasonable means to notify the public agency of the failure to submit a report prior to the department’s determination that the public agency is ineligible to receive future grant funds.

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

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

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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 casualty that assistance that is practicable and
8necessary in order to save them from, or minimize any, danger
9caused by the collision, accident, or other casualty.

10(b) Any person who complies with subdivision (a) or Section
11656.1, 656.2, or 656.3 or who gratuitously and in good faith renders
12assistance at the scene of a vessel collision, accident, or other
13casualty without objection by any person assisted, shall not be held
14liable for any civil damages sought as a result of the rendering of
15assistance or for any act or omission in providing or arranging
16salvage, towage, medical treatment, or other assistance, if the
17assisting person has acted as an ordinary, reasonably prudent person
18would have acted under the same or similar circumstances.

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

25(2) The public entity employing such an individual shall be
26liable in civil damages if the individual employee has failed to act
P3    1as a reasonably prudent person would have acted under the same
2or similar circumstances.

3(3) If a public entity has given a reasonable printed, electronic,
4or verbal warning of the danger causing the distress that created
5the necessity for the rescue, and there has been a reasonable
6opportunity for the party in distress to receive the warning, the
7public entity is liable only for acts or omissions of its employee
8that were taken in a grossly negligent manner.

9(d) The owner, operator, or other person who is on board a
10vessel involved in a casualty or accident shall report the casualty
11or accident in accordance with regulations adopted by the
12department. The department shall adopt regulations to maintain a
13uniform casualty and accident reporting system for vessels subject
14to this code in conformity with federal casualty and accident
15reporting regulations promulgated by the United States Coast
16Guard or any successor to those regulations. Consistent with Public
17Law 92-75 and the federal regulations contained in Part 173 of
18Title 33 of the Code of Federal Regulations, a peace officer or
19harbor police officer upon receiving an initial report of a casualty
20involving the death or disappearance of a person as a result of a
21boating accident, shall immediately forward the report, by quickest
22means available, to the department.

23(1) A public agency that is under contract with the department
24to receive law enforcement grant funds from the department shall,
25pursuant to regulations adopted by the department, complete and
26submit to the department a report for any boating accident to which
27it responds or for which it receives a report.

28(2) A public agency that has received any law enforcement grant
29funds from the department that does not submit an accident report
30as required under paragraph (1)begin delete mayend deletebegin insert shallend insert be determined by the
31department to be ineligible to receive future grant funds for up to
32five fiscal years following the date of the failure to submit a reportbegin insert,
33except upon a showing of good cause by that public agencyend insert
.

34(3) The department shall use reasonable means to do both of
35the following:

36(A) Obtain from a public agency any complete report required
37to be submitted pursuant to paragraph (1).

38(B) Notify a public agency of the failure to submit a report
39required under paragraph (1) before taking action pursuant to
40paragraph (2).

P4    1(e) Neither the report required by this section nor any action
2taken by the department with regard to the report shall be referred
3to in any way, or be any evidence of negligence or due care of any
4party, at the trial of any action at law to recover damages.

5(f) All required accident reports, and supplemental reports, shall
6be without prejudice to the individual so reporting and shall be for
7the confidential use of the department and any peace officer
8actually engaged in the enforcement of this chapter, except that
9the department shall disclose the names and addresses of persons
10involved in, or witnesses to, an accident, the registration numbers
11and descriptions of vessels involved, and the date, time, and
12location of an accident to any person who may have a proper
13interest in that information, including the operator involved or the
14legal guardian of that operator, the parent of a minor operator, the
15authorized representative of an operator, or any person injured,
16and the owners of vessels or property damaged, in the accident.

17(g) This section applies to foreign vessels, military or public
18recreational-type vessels, vessels owned by a state or subdivision
19of a state, and ship’s lifeboats otherwise exempted from this chapter
20pursuant to Section 650.1.



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