Many of us at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers are avid boaters ourselves, so we are particularly concerned by boat safety on our waterways. Particularly in Chicago and other seasonal climates throughout the Midwest, we tend to see a rash of boat injuries and watercraft accidents every summer. While the causes remain varied, inexperienced boat drivers take to the water without much consideration of their passengers or people sharing the water around them.
Duties of boat owners and operators to passengers and others sharing the water with them
Operators of boats and other personal watercraft, such as Jet Skis or Ski-Doos, have a responsibility to safely operate their watercraft and protect both their passengers as well as other people around them on the water. As boat accident attorneys who have successfully recovered money on behalf of people injured by negligent watercraft operators, we regularly discover that there is an utter indifference to applicable laws. However pursuant to Illinois Law, recreational boat operators must consider the following:
Careless Operation: No person shall operate any watercraft in a care- less or heedless manner as to endanger any person or property, or at a rate of speed greater than will permit him in the exercise of reasonable care to bring the watercraft to a stop within the assured clear distance ahead.
Reckless Operation: No person shall operate any watercraft, specialty prop-craft, personal watercraft or manipulate any waterskis, aquaplane, or similar device in such a manner as to willfully or wantonly endanger the life, limb or property of any person, to weave through congested traffic, to jump the wake of another vessel unreasonably or unnecessarily close to the other vessel or when visibility around the other vessel is obstructed, to wait until the last possible moment to swerve to avoid collision, or operate any watercraft so as to approach or pass another water- craft in such a manner or at such a rate of speed as to create a hazardous wake or wash.
A person convicted of committing a violation of this section shall be guilty of aggravated reckless operation of a watercraft if the violation of this Section resulted in great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement of another, when the violation was a proximate cause of the injuries.
Passing: When two boats are approaching each other“head on” or nearly so (so as to involve risk of collision), each boat must bear to the right and pass the other boat on its left side.
Crossing: When boats approach each other at right angles, the boat approaching on the right side has the right of way.
Overtaking: One boat may overtake another on either side but must grant right of way to the overtaken boat.
Sailboats and Rowboats: When a motorboat is approaching a boat propelled solely by sails or oars, the motorboat must yield the right of way to the sailboat or rowboat except, when a large craft is navigating in a confined channel, the large craft has the right of way over a boat propelled solely by oars or sails.
Restricted Areas: No person shall operate a motor boat in a water area which has been clearly marked by buoys or signs as a bathing, fishing or otherwise restricted area, except in the manner prescribed by the buoys or signs marking the area. In areas designated as “No Wake” areas, no motorboat underway shall exceed 5 miles per hour while in the posted “No Wake” area.
Slow – No Wake Areas: No person shall operate a watercraft within 150 feet of a public launching ramp owned, operated or maintained by the Department or a political subdivision of the State at greater than a “No Wake” speed. Posting of the areas is not required.
Water Skiing: When towing a person on water skis, the towing vessel must have a capacity of at least three per- sons and must be occupied by at least two competent people. it is unlawful to water ski from the period of one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour prior to sunrise.
Operating Under the Influence (OUI): No person shall operate a water- craft while under the influence of alcohol or any other drug to the degree which renders him/her incapable of safely operating such watercraft, or
who has any amount of a drug, substance, or compound in his/her blood or urine resulting from the unlawful use or consumption of cannabis as defined in the Cannabis Control Act or a controlled substance listed in the Illinois Controlled Substance Act.
Unlawful Operation at Night: No person shall operate a personal water-craft or a specialty prop craft between the hours of sunset and sunrise.
Passenger Location: No person operating a motor boat shall allow a person in the motorboat to ride or sit on the gunwales, tops of seat backs, or on the decking over the bow or stern of the motorboat while the motorboat is underway, unless the person is inboard of guards or rails provided on the motorboat to prevent passengers from being lost overboard.
Primary causes of boating injuries and tubing injuries
Without any meaningful protection, every year people are injured or killed on lakes, ponds and rivers in Illinois, due to boat drivers negligence. Some of these accidents involve direct collisions– when an individual is actually ‘struck’ or ‘run over’ by a boat. Other boat accident cases frequently involve passengers who have been ejected due to careless operation. In the course of our boating accident lawsuits, we regularly encounter accidents which stem from:
- Lack of training
- Driving too fast for the circumstances
- Using old or improper equipment
- Poor / inadequate training
- Failing to keep a proper lookout
Advocates for people injured due to the carelessness of others on the water
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers recognizes that many injures sustained in boating accidents involve the negligence of family and friends. Our goal remains to obtain the most compensation for our clients, yet it remains the ultimate decision of the client to settle a boat injury case directly with an insurance company or pursue the case through trial.
In many of our Illinois boating accident cases we call upon experts in the fields of boat safety and recreational water safety to help present our client’s case to an insurance company or jury. While some may say that the retention of experts on boating accident cases is not necessary, this is just another step that we take to assure that everything is done to maximize our client’s recovery.
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