Lawsuits Against Negligent Boat Operators

Liability of Boat Operators For Causing Accidents Involving Passengers & Others

Operator Boat LicensesIn order to recover damages in a sailboat or motorboat accident, the victim must prove the injuries were caused by boat operator liability through negligence. Illinois law states that failure of the boat operator to act using reasonable care is deemed as negligence in any type of vehicle accident, including boats. Negligence is often the result of heavy use of alcohol on board, piloting the boat recklessly, or not taking necessary precautions.

Negligent Actions of Boat Drivers Impacts Those Aboard and Those Nearby

An injury claim centered around boat operator negligence may be maintained for various scenarios including:

  • An accident involving another boat
  • An accident caused by the wake of another boat
  • An accident caused by a wave
  • An accident caused by hitting land, rock or submerged object

Failing to Yield to the Right of Way: Collisions with Other Boats

When two motorboats or sailboats collide, both operators are typically cited as being partially responsible. Because of that, all passengers of both boats can file a legal claim against both operators, much like an automobile accident case. However, in many incidences, boat operator liability is based on “The Rules of the Road” requiring vessels to maintain a safe distance by keeping out of the way from all other vessels.

Wakes from Other Boats

Often times boating accidents occur when making contact with a large wave or wake that jolts the vessel, knocking passengers down, or throwing them overboard. Often times, boat operator legal responsibility for an accident is cloudy at best. Illinois state and federal boating laws detail safe boating practices. The laws require that every operator must maintain vessel and passenger safety through constant lookout of all hazards.

Even so, wake accidents often happen due to a variety of circumstances including:

  • The speed of the boat
  • The wake size
  • Visibility on the water
  • Boat traffic where the accident occurred
  • Failure of the operator to warn passengers that a big wake from another boat is approaching

Often times, the operator is negligent in their actions when the boat is in an inner harbor or marina area with a clearly posted “no wake” zone. The violation of standardized boating safety rules often means that the operator can be held responsible for their actions in causing harm to others. Some boat operators speeding through a crowded waterway, lake and river area can be found negligent when leaving a large wake behind, causing accidents in isolated areas.

Hitting Waves: Failing to Maneuver Around or Warn Passengers

Motorboat and sailboat operators can be held liable for hurting passengers, even when there is no other boat involved in the accident. Many injuries caused by wakes from other vessels happen when the boat operator improperly handles oncoming waves.

Operators Colliding with Objects or Land

Even when visibility is not impaired, and times of good weather, the boat can hit submerged rocks or objects. In poor weather conditions and/or minimal visibility, a vessel can easily run into the coastline, hit a jetty or run aground. The operator’s actions or inactions often determine liability for a boat collision, especially when not using GPS devices/nautical charts properly or taking necessary precautions.

The lack of providing proper safety equipment for every passenger on board can also lead to negligent claims against the operator and vessel owner. Injuries can often be prevented when passengers falling overboard are wearing life jackets or have instant access to life rings. Any injuries caused by not bringing the victim back on board unharmed or not using whistles and/or flares when the boat becomes disabled can often result in a negligence claim.

Responsibility To Provide Proper Safety Equipment

Illinois state and federal boating safety regulations and laws require every pleasure boat to maintain numerous types of safety equipment on the vessel. This includes throw-able life rings, a life jacket for every passenger, flares, navigational lights, fire extinguishers and fire whistles. Any failure to maintain proper safety equipment on the vessel can cause significant injuries or harm to passengers. The lack of maintaining proper safety equipment often leads to negligent claims against the owner of the boat.

Did You Sustain An Injury Due To The Negligence of a Boat Operator?

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers are skilled at protecting the rights of passengers and others involved in boating accidents due to a negligent operator. If you suffered injuries on the water, you are likely entitled to compensation for your pain, suffering, injuries and damages. Call Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers at (888) 424-5757 to speak with in Illinois boating accident attorney.

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