Can I Sue The Operator of a Boat If He Or She Caused An Injury to Me?

Can I Sue The Operator of a Boat If He Or She Caused An Injury to Me? Yes, if you are injured in a boat accident in Illinois, you can sue the person or company that is operating the boat which caused the incident. In fact, you might also be able to use other persons and entities.

  1. So Who Exactly Can I Sue For My Boat Accident Injuries?
  2. How Can I Sue Them For My Boat Accident Injuries?
  3. Which Kind Of Cause Of Action Is More Effective?
  4. How Will I Know Which Kind Of Cause Of Action To Use For My Illinois Boat Accident Case?
  5. Still Wondering How To File Your Boat Accident Claim?

So Who Exactly Can I Sue For My Boat Accident Injuries?

Yes. If you are involved in a boating accident, you can sue the operator of the boat that caused you injuries. It makes no difference if it was a boat you were not a passenger on or if it was a boat on which you were a passenger. In fact, you can sue any party that wrongfully injures you. In the context of Illinois boating accidents, here is a list of other potential actors that you might be able to sue:

  • The owner of the boat or watercraft.
  • The owner of an object you collided with in the open waters.
  • The manufacturer, distributor, or seller of your boat or boat part. Now, exactly what will your boating accident case look like? More than likely, it will be either an action in negligence or products liability. Here is some background information if you are unfamiliar with these types of cases.

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How Can I Sue Them For My Boat Accident Injuries?

For every kind of personal injury case, there are a broad array of ways that you could pursue recovery. Plaintiffs in boat accident litigation typically attempt to recover based on negligence and products liability theories. Here is an explanation of both of these causes of action:

1. NEGLIGENCE

If you are suing the owner or driver of the boat or object that you collided with or that collided into you, you could sue them for negligence. This means that they failed act as a reasonable would in similar circumstances. For instances, they might have been sailed too fast, not kept a lookout, or failed to have proper equipment. These are all examples of negligent behavior but to succeed in a negligence lawsuit you must illustrate the other party 1)owed you a duty 2) breached that duty 3)that breach caused you injuries and 3)those injuries manifested in legally recognizable damages.

We all owe a duty to not harm others so the first part should not be difficult. What might be harder to prove is that they breached the duty or that that breach caused you damages. The defendants might retort that there was nothing that they could have done to avoid the accident especially in the context of boating accidents where water, winds, and other forces of nature are strongly at play. So actually illustrating that the defendant breached a duty might be cumbersome.

Additionally defendants normally contend that they did not actually cause the plaintiff’s injuries either because another force was at play or because in their opinion the plaintiff was contributorily negligent. What should be remembered in this last instance, however, is that plaintiffs can still recover if their portion of responsibility for the incident is less than 51%. The only consequence is that their recovery is reduced by the percentage of their culpability. In any event, of the four negligence requirements, breach and causation are normally the hardest to prove in a boating accident case. However, we have dealt with many of these cases and can explain to you how to navigate through these issues.

Your negligence action will be a lot smoother if the defendant broke a law while injuring you. This is called negligence per se and involves the following elements:

  • The defendant broke a law.
  • The law provides for a penalty.
  • The conduct caused a harm that the law was meant to deter.
  • The plaintiff was within the protected class of the law.

For instance, if the defendant was under the influence while driving a boat that rammed into you, or if the defendant was driving a boat at night without lights (if that was against the law) and then hit you, then this would be negligence per se because you were within the protected class of both laws the defendant broke. In other words, because the plaintiff broke the law and harmed you in the manner that the law predicted, he or she was negligent per se. This means that there is a presumption of negligence and it saves you a lot of work at trial proving the conduct in question was negligent in the first place. This is helpful in boating accidents because there are a lot of technical and complicated questions and being able to point to the defendant’s statutory violations makes things go faster.

2. PRODUCTS LIABILITY

The other possible form your boating accident lawsuit might take is products liability. This would likely be against the manufacturer, distributor, seller or any other party in the supply chain (as long as they are a commercial seller) that sold you the boat or a boat part/supply. If you think the boat item was defectively manufactured and that defect caused your injuries then you must prove this at trial:

  • The seller sold the item in the ordinary course of business.
  • The item was in a defective condition when sold that made it unreasonable unsafe when used in a reasonable and foreseeable manner.
  • The item was used in a reasonable manner as anticipated by the seller.
  • The buyer was injured after using the item because of the defective condition that existed when the product was sold.

Examples of manufacturing defects in these circumstances include a boat with a hole in the bottom that lets water in or an oar that falls apart upon contact with water.

On the other hand, if you think the boat item was defectively designed and that defect caused your injuries then you must prove this at trial:

  • The seller sold the item in the ordinary course of business.
  • The item was in a defective condition when sold that made it unreasonable unsafe when used in a reasonable and foreseeable manner.
  • The item was used in a reasonable manner as anticipated by the seller.
  • The buyer was injured after using the item because of the defective design that existed when the product was sold.

Examples of design defects in these circumstances include a ship that cannot float or a propeller that cannot power a ship.

Finally, if you think the problem stemmed from a lack of instruction or warning regarding the boat item, then you must prove this at trial

  • The seller sold the item in the ordinary course of business.
  • The item was in a defective condition when sold that made it unreasonable unsafe when used in a reasonable and foreseeable manner.
  • The item did not have sufficient warning or instruction.
  • The buyer was injured after reasonably and foreseeably using the item because of the lack of sufficient warning or instruction.

Examples of warning or instructions defects in these circumstances include no warning that a propeller will not work below fifty degrees Fahrenheit or that a fire extinguisher will not work after it has been sprayed with water.

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Which Kind Of Cause Of Action Is More Effective?

With all these different kinds of lawsuits, it can be hard to tell which will be more effective in pursuing recovery after your boat accident. The only way to determine how to proceed most advantageously is to line up the facts of your incident with the laws and cases of Illinois. Lawsuits turn more on facts than they do on arguments so you need to be expertly aware of how your suit is like others or how it is like not others. Also, you need to examine every element of your suit to see where your strengths and weaknesses are. At the end of the day, the kind of cause of action you choose should be determined by balancing how you fare point by point across different suit types.

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How Will I Know Which Kind Of Cause Of Action To Use For My Illinois Boat Accident Case?

As noted above, this is not an easy choice. Thus, you should not make it lightly. It will be your first and possibly most important case decision. Normally, we advise clients to make it in coordination with their attorney. Then, they can know for sure how best to proceed. With your lawyer, you can compare and analyze how your suit fits in with Illinois’ overall scheme for boat accident compensation. Lawyers can ensure you don’t miss any angle or forget any fact when completing this task. Essentially, whatever form of lawsuit you select should allow you to recover the most for all of the injuries that you have sustained.

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Still Wondering How To File Your Boat Accident Claim?

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers helps Illinois boat accident plaintiffs file claims for their injuries and damages. We instruct them on the most effective form, target, and pleas for their cases. Plus, we represent them on a contingency basis so that they are spared every cost until the suit is over. Want to hear how we can help you? Contact our offices today and someone from Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers will walk you through exactly how we can help you.

If you would like to know more about boat accidents in Illinois, please read the following articles:

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