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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 boat 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 boat 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 boat accident attorney.

Our Illinois law firm handles 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 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 (USCG) 2020 Recreational Boating Accident Report revealed that 5,265 accidents that involved 767 deaths and 3,191 injuries occurred in the US.
  • In 2020, the Department of Natural Resources counted 5,265 accidents involving 767 deaths, 3,191 injuries, and approximately $62.5 million of property damage due to recreational and sporting boating accidents.
  • Compared to 2019, accidents increased by 26.3%, deaths rose by 25.1%, and injuries increased by 24.7%.
  • 75% of fatal boat accident victims drowned where the cause of death was known. Of those drowning victims with reported life jacket usage, 86% were not wearing life jackets.
  • 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 boat operator had received a nationally approved boating safety education certificate.
  • There were 247 accidents in which a propeller struck at least one person. These types of 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%).

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

Common Types of Boating Accidents

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 severe injury because boat passengers 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:

Hiring Chicago boating accident attorneys can allow them to investigate the cause and hold the owners of the boat responsible.

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 optimally.

Unfortunately, most boating accidents occur from operators' negligent behavior or reckless operation. Often, many boat pilots need to be more attentive or demonstrate negligence. According to the USCG, 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 boater must know the surroundings, shallow water, and lake conditions. 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 a boater's negligence, contact our injury lawyers for a free evaluation concerning compensation in your boating accident case.

Speeding Boat

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 department 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 carbon monoxide, translating to burns and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Some of these personal injury cases might not be caused by the operator's boating negligence but by the boat manufacturer selling a defective product. If a boating accident occurs, the manufacturer may be liable 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 boater 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 boater, speak to our Chicago boat accident attorney for a free case evaluation and 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 as well as safety laws. Boating education and safety courses allow boat owners/operators to understand the required navigation procedures and boating laws.

alcohol use leading cause of fatal boat accidents

Maritime Laws

Boat 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
  • Barges
  • Cabin cruisers
  • Private yachts and personal watercraft
  • Inflatable boats
  • Military vessels (and 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 crashes can often lead to serious or life-threatening injuries, leaving victims with temporary injuries that can take substantial time to heal or can result in permanent damage to the brain or nervous system.

Some of the common injuries sustained are:

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 vessel or fall off the boat and drown.

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

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

  • If you are involved in any boat 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 boating 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 boat accident in Chicago. Economic damages refer to calculable types of compensation, such as medical bills and property damage.

Contact a boating accident lawyer from our law firm to discuss your case.

Potential Defendants in a 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 everyone on board.
  • When a boat out on a river, lake, or pond lacks proper equipment or the crew is not trained correctly, victims of a boat accident may sue the operator, owner, and other parties.

If you were injured in one of the many boating accidents in northeast Illinois, 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.

An experienced attorney can investigate the facts of your boating accident case. Let our personal injury law firm prove boating negligence that shows another party is at fault for causing the accident involving injuries or fatalities.

Common Defendants That Are Found in Boating Accidents

A Chicago boating accident lawyer can help investigate your case, prove negligence, and determine who is at fault to recover compensation for damages.

Below are some possible defendants responsible for boating injuries sustained in boating incidents:

  • The Boat Operator: Boaters can be held liable if they operate recklessly or disregard boating laws. The driver must be alert and avoid colliding with another boat, jet skis, or nearby swimmers.
  • Boat Owners can be held liable for an accident if the vessel is not maintained regularly or operating safely for use.
  • Manufacturers of Watercraft: If the cause of the boat accident was a defect, 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 boater from fulfilling their duty of ensuring that those aboard are safe, the passenger can be held responsible.
  • Other Boat Owners/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 the boat operators and owners responsible for your watercraft accident.

Viable boating accident lawsuits can also be filed for lack of proper safety equipment. Contact boat accident lawyers to discuss your case.

An experienced attorney will work directly with the defendant's insurance company to ensure you receive the maximum compensation you deserve.

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 boat 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.

The boat injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC have decades of experience handling severe boat accident cases. Our law firm has recovered millions in settlements for our clients.

Contact our accident lawyers at (888) 424-5757, or use the contact form to schedule a free case consultation. One of our boating injury lawyers will discuss how you may be able to receive the maximum compensation for your injuries, harm, or property damage.


Client Reviews
Jonathan Rosenfeld was professionally objective, timely, and knowledgeable. Also, his advice was extremely effective regarding my case. In addition, Jonathan was understanding and patient pertaining to any of my questions or concerns. I was very happy with the end result and I highly recommend Jonathan Rosenfeld. Michonne Proulx
Extremely impressed with this law firm. They took control of a bad motorcycle crash that left my uncle seriously injured. Without any guarantee of a financial recovery, they went out and hired accident investigators and engineers to help prove how the accident happened. I am grateful that they worked on a contingency fee basis as there was no way we could have paid for these services on our own. Ethan Armstrong
This lawyer really helped me get compensation for my motorcycle accident case. I know there is no way that I could have gotten anywhere near the amount that Mr. Rosenfeld was able to get to settle my case. Thank you. Daniel Kaim
Jonathan helped my family heal and get compensation after our child was suffered a life threatening injury at daycare. He was sympathetic and in constant contact with us letting us know all he knew every step of the way. We were so blessed to find Jonathan! Giulia
Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial. Lisa