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Chicago Boat Accident Lawyer

Many boating accidents occur yearly on Lake Michigan, Des Plaines River, Chicago River, and many other lakes and rivers surrounding the Chicago area as enthusiasts take to the water to enjoy a recreational boating experience.

Yet, few enthusiasts realize just how dangerous their day out on the water can be until tragedy strikes. A boating accident can happen in a moment due to sudden severe weather, negligent maintenance and upkeep on the boat, or poor judgment of the skipper, with intoxication as the number one reason for marine casualties.

Chicago Boating Accident Lawyers

Were you or a loved one hurt in a boat accident? Our personal injury lawyers at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC are committed to helping you pursue justice and the compensation you deserve for your boating accident injuries and your emotional and psychological trauma that can take years to heal.

Contact our law office at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) today for a free consultation with a Chicago boat accident lawyer. Our law firm handles Chicago boating accident claims and wrongful death cases on a contingency fee basis.

60% involved in Illinois boat accident injured

The US and Illinois Boating Accident Statistics

These statistics reveal how dangerous recreational boating and watercraft accidents can be for everyone involved. Suffering from a boating injury is very likely to happen if precautions are not taken:

  • In the Federal Fiscal Year 2020, 21 fatalities and 36 injuries were reported in boating accidents in Illinois. In this same Federal Fiscal Year, 81 boating accidents were reported in the state.
  • The US Coast Guard 2020 Recreational Boating Statistics reported that 5,265 accidents that involved 767 deaths and 3,191 injuries occurred in the US.
  • In 2020, the Coast Guard counted 5,265 accidents involving 767 deaths, 3,191 injuries, and approximately $62.5 million of property damage due to recreational boating accidents.
  • The fatality rate was 6.5 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels. The rate represents a 25% increase from the 2019 fatality rate of 5.2 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels.
  • Compared to 2019, accidents increased by 26.3%, deaths rose by 25.1%, and injuries increased by 24.7%.
  • 75% of fatal boating accident victims drowned where the cause of death was known. Of those drowning victims with reported life jacket usage, 86% were not wearing a life jacket.
  • Eight out of every ten drowned boaters were using vessels less than 21 feet long, where authorities knew the boat length.
  • Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; where the primary cause was known, it was listed as the leading factor in 18% of deaths.
  • 77% of deaths occurred on boats where the operator did not receive boating safety instructions. Only 12% of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received a nationally approved boating safety education certificate.
  • There were 247 accidents in which a propeller struck at least one person. Collectively, these accidents resulted in 39 deaths and 241 injuries.
  • Operator inattention, inexperience, improper lookout, excessive speed, and machinery failure are the top five contributing factors in accidents.
  • The most common vessel types involved in reported accidents were open motorboats (46%), personal watercraft (22%), and cabin motorboats (13%).
  • The vessel types with the highest percentage of deaths were open motorboats (50%), kayaks (15%), and pontoons (9%).
  • The 11,838,188 recreational vessels registered by the states in 2020 represent a 0.34% decrease from last year when 11,878,542 recreational vessels were registered.

If you have suffered a serious injury through the negligence of others, speak to Chicago boat accident attorneys for a free consultation and legal counsel regarding your boating accident lawsuit.

Common Types of Boating Accidents

Recreational boating enthusiasts can quickly experience tragedy when an exciting boating day on the water escalates into a devastating accident. The result can be serious injuries or even fatalities of those onboard.

Most marine accidents will result in injury because passengers in the boat were not secured to the vessel or wearing seatbelts. Injuries occur when passengers fall in the boat or into the water.

One of the most common reasons for a boat accident involves one boat colliding with another vessel or structure. A boat can also crash into a person who is swimming nearby.

A boat accident can occur for different reasons, including:

  • Driver inattention
  • A driver under the influence of alcohol
  • Defective boat and equipment
  • Adverse weather conditions

Hiring a Chicago boat accident lawyer can allow them to investigate the cause and hold the defendants responsible. Speak to our law team today with our free consultation offer.

Boating accident injuries and fatalities

How Boating Accidents Can Occur

Many different factors can cause watercraft accidents. Many things can go wrong when out on the water, even if the boat owner or operator is attentive and driving under optimal conditions.

Unfortunately, most boating accidents occur from operators' negligent behavior or reckless operation. Often, many boat pilots are either not attentive or demonstrate negligence. The weather and water conditions for boating may also not be agreeable.

According to the US Coast Guard, some common causes of boating and watercraft accidents are listed below.

The Inattention of The Boat Operator

Watercraft operators must remain alert as the most common reason a boating accident occurs is human error, much like a car accident.

A boat operator must know the surroundings, shallow water, and lake conditions. Not maintaining a proper lookout can result in a collision with a dock, swimmer, or another boat.

If you have suffered temporary or permanent injuries due to the negligence of a boat operator, contact our injury lawyers for a free consultation concerning compensation in your boating accident case.

Speeding Boat

If a boat operator travels at excessive speed and does not approach a harbor with lower speed limits, it may be difficult for them to slow down in time to avoid an accident.

Like car accidents, the operator may go too fast to control the boat and then hit other boats, jet skis, or swimmers in the water, leading to severe boating injuries. If the boat driver is speeding at night, seeing objects or people in the water may be more difficult.

Inexperienced Boat Operators

It is easy to purchase a boat, but it takes time to operate it safely. A person at least 12 years old must possess a valid Boating Education Certificate issued by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to operate the vessel.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources certificate is also an Illinois boating license. Anyone who owns a boat, kayak, jet ski, canoe, or another vessel must register and title it.

Inexperienced boat operators are more likely to make mistakes that can endanger the lives of all onboard. They may try to operate the boat in bad weather with choppy or rough waters, and their inexperience may lead to an accident.

The accident may cost lives if the operator fails to have the legally required equipment on board, such as fire extinguishers or a US Coast Guard-approved life jacket for every passenger.

Defective Boat Or Improperly Maintained Equipment

The owner must regularly maintain a boat to ensure the operator's and others' safety. Machinery failure or negligent maintenance can cause fires and produce CO, translating to burns and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Some of these boating accident cases might not be caused by the operator's negligence but by the boat manufacturer selling a defective product. If an accident occurs, the manufacturer will be held responsible for damages.

An Intoxicated Operator

Illinois law prohibits a person from operating a boat under the influence (BUI) of alcohol or drugs.

There is a higher risk of getting involved in an accident if the boat operator is driving under the influence. Under the law, a boat operator's blood alcohol content limit is 0.08%.

If you suffered injuries due to the intoxication of a boat operator, speak to our boating accident lawyer today for a free case evaluation and a free consultation.

Weather Conditions Can Cause Injuries

Boating activities in bad weather can be hazardous and result in injuries and property damage. Before heading out on a boat, you should take note of the weather conditions for the day and be familiar with the lake conditions.

Violating Navigation Rules

Boat operators must follow the rules for navigating a boat and other watercraft on the lake and safety laws. Boating education and safety courses allow boat operators to understand the required navigation procedures and boating laws.

Certain waters are considered dangerous, which authorities demarcate to restrict recreational boating.

alcohol use leading cause of fatal boat accidents

Maritime Laws

Boating accidents and other watercraft incidents that occur further out from shore are regulated by maritime law. These global and federal boating regulations involve any boat accident or incident on a maritime vessel, including those that happen while the ship is at anchor, berthed, or moored.

Generally, a maritime vessel that must follow global or federal law includes:

  • Cruise ships
  • Freight ships
  • Cargo ships
  • Fishing vessels
  • Tugboats and barges
  • Cabin cruisers
  • Private yachts and personal watercraft
  • Inflatable boats
  • Military vessels (and some merchantmen)

The Jones Act or Merchant Marine Act of 1920

The statute also extends the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA) to seamen. The Act enables seamen injured at sea during their employment to bring a personal injury action against their employers.

It grants them rights in these actions, although maritime law does not grant the plaintiffs the right to a jury trial. Under the Jones Act, the plaintiff may bring an action in a federal district or state court. The defendant cannot remove the case from a state court to a federal court.

Common Boating Accident Injuries

Recreational boating accidents can often lead to serious or life-threatening injuries, leaving victims with temporary injuries that can take substantial time to heal or permanent damage to the brain or nervous system.

Some of the common injuries sustained are:

  • Traumatic Brain Injuries
  • Drowning
  • Lacerations
  • Whiplash
  • Burns
  • Limb amputations
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Bone and ligament injuries

What Should You Do If You Are The Victim Of A Boating Accident

Negligence and defective boating equipment are significant factors that cause people to be thrown around in the boat or fall off the boat and drown.

Boat accident injuries from these incidents can include permanent brain damage, broken or dislocated bones, concussions, and other severe injuries. If an accident occurs, seek medical treatment for yourself or an injured person immediately.

You are required to file a boating accident report on the United States Coast Guard website in the following circumstances:

  • If you are involved in any watercraft accident that results in loss of life
  • If there was an injury to a person that needed treatment beyond first aid
  • If the total property damages were $2,000 or greater

Gather the information of all parties involved and information regarding the vessel for your records.

You should consult a Chicago boat accident attorney if you or your loved ones have been injured or suffered boating fatalities in a water vessel accident.

Claiming Damages

You have legal rights and remedies to get compensation for economic and non-economic damages if you are an injured party in a boating accident in Chicago. Economic damages refer to calculable types of compensation, such as medical bills and property damage.

Non-economic damages are more subjective and can include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional anguish or psychological trauma
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

You can file a Chicago boating accident injury lawsuit to recover the compensation you are entitled to receive. If there were fatalities, you could file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Potential Defendants In A Chicago Boat Accident Injury Lawsuit

There are many defendants in boating accident lawsuits. The possibility of multiple at-fault parties is consistent with boat accidents' many different causes:

  • Crew members must be fully trained to act in an emergency.
  • Boats must have one personal flotation device or US coast guard approved life jackets for each person on board
  • Every vessel must have one fire extinguisher and correctly installed ventilation systems, among other requirements
  • When a boat out on a Chicago river, lake, or pond lacks proper equipment or the crew is not trained correctly, victims of a marine accident may sue the operator, owner, and other parties.

If you were injured in one of the many boating accidents in northeast Illinois and Lake Michigan, or the tours and party boats go out that go onto a Chicago river or Lake Michigan for recreational boating, speak to experienced Chicago boating accident lawyers.

Our attorneys can investigate the facts of your case and prove negligence if another party is at fault.

Common Defendants That Are Found In Boating Accidents

Chicago boating accident attorneys can help investigate your case and determine who is at fault. Below are some possible defendants who could be responsible for injuries sustained in boating incidents:

  • The boat operator: Boat operators can be held liable if they operate the boat recklessly or disregard boating laws. The driver must be alert and avoid colliding with another boat, jet skis, or nearby swimmers.
  • Boat owners: The boat owner can be held liable for an accident if the vessel is not maintained regularly or operating safely for use. Vessel owners must also be careful about who they allow to operate their boats, as they are liable if the operator causes an accident.
  • Manufacturers of Watercraft: If the cause of the accident was a defective boat, you could file a product liability lawsuit against either the company that manufactured the boat or the retailer that sold it to you.
  • Boat Passengers: If a boat passenger prevents a boat operator from fulfilling his duty of ensuring that those aboard are safe, the passenger can be held responsible.
  • Other Boat Owners or Operators: If you are a boat driver or rider involved in a collision with another boat, you can file a lawsuit against the driver of that other vessel.
  • Marinas & Harbors: You can also file a claim against any defendant responsible for your accident's conditions. For example, the dock where you were parking or storing your boat may have been negligently maintained and could cause your accident.

Viable boat accident cases can also be filed for lack of proper safety equipment, such as life jackets.

Contact Us For a Free Consultation With One of Our Chicago Boating Accident Attorneys

Even minor boating accidents on an Illinois river, lake, or pond can result in severe injuries. A boating accident often leaves victims with temporary or permanent injuries requiring extensive rehabilitation, with crippling medical bills.

A Chicago boating accident attorney from our law firm will help you present your injury case to the insurance company or file a lawsuit if necessary. Our law firm has recovered millions in settlements for our clients.

Our Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC legal team has decades of experience handling serious personal injury cases. Contact our Chicago boat accident lawyers at (888) 424-5757, or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation.

One of our Chicago boat accident lawyers will discuss receiving maximum compensation for your injuries, harm, or property damage. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.

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