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Jonathan Rosenfeld

March 2, 2023

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Many 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.

Yet, few enthusiasts realize how dangerous their day out on the water can be until an accident occurs. However, in the case of a boating accident, the right Chicago boat accident lawyer can save the day.

Chicago Boating Accident Lawyers

Were you or a beloved family member hurt in a boat accident? Talk to a Chicago lawyer at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, who is committed to helping you pursue justice and the compensation you deserve for your watercraft 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 personal injury lawyer.

Our firm has represented many Chicago residents in their personal injury cases and wrongful death cases on a contingency fee basis.

60% involved in Illinois boat accident injured

The US and Illinois Watercraft Accident Statistics

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

  • In the federal fiscal year 2020, 21 boating fatalities and 36 injuries were reported in Illinois. In this same federal fiscal year, 81 maritime 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 accidents.
  • 75% of fatalities were due to drowning in fatal accidents with a known cause of death. Of those drowning victims with reported life jacket usage, 86% were not wearing life jackets.
  • Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal accidents; where the primary cause was known, it was listed as the leading factor in 18% of deaths.
  • 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 contributing factors in most Illinois 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 serious injury through the negligence of others, speak to boat accident attorneys for a free case review and legal counsel regarding your lawsuit.

Common Types of Marine 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 into the boat or into the water, which is when people could use assistance from a Chicago boat accident lawyer.

An accident can occur for different reasons, including:

  • Driver inattention
  • Alcohol or drug intoxication
  • Defective boat and equipment
  • Adverse weather conditions

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

statistics of boat accident fatalities and injuries in iliinois

How Boating Accidents Can Occur

Many different factors can cause watercraft accidents [1]. Many things can go wrong when out on the water, even if the boat owner or operator is attentive and driving optimally.

Unfortunately, most accidents happen from operators’ negligent behavior or reckless operation. Often, many boat pilots need to be more attentive or demonstrate negligence. According to the USCG, most accidents occur because of these causes.

The Inattention of The Boat Operator

Watercraft operators must remain alert: according to statistics, the most common reason an accident occurred is because of driver 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 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 driver is speeding at night, seeing objects or people in the water may be more difficult.

Inexperienced Operators

It is easy to purchase a boat, but it takes time to operate it safely. Any driver 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 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 USCG-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. Equipment failure or negligent maintenance can cause fires, leading to burns and carbon monoxide poisoning.

A personal injury lawsuit might not be caused by the operator’s boat operating negligence but by the boat manufacturer selling a defective product. If an 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) [2] of alcohol or drugs.

There is a higher risk of getting involved in an accident if the boater drives 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.

Poor Weather Conditions

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. This includes expected wave size, wind speed, and precipitation. If there are any beach hazard advisories from the National Weather Service, consider postponing or canceling your trip. Even though hopping on a water ski or kayaking along the lake shore is fun, no relaxing day out on the water is worth your life.

Violating Navigation Rules

Operators must follow the rules for navigating a boat [3] and other watercraft on the lake and the safety laws. Boating education and safety courses allow water vessel owners/operators to understand the required navigation procedures and boating laws.

alcohol use leading cause of fatal boat accidents

Maritime Laws

Accidents and other watercraft incidents that occur further out from shore are regulated by maritime law [4]. These global and federal boating regulations involve any 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 boats and 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 legal 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 Injuries in Watercraft Incidents

Boating crashes can often lead to serious or life-threatening injuries, leaving victims with temporary injuries that can take substantial time to heal or permanently damage the brain or nervous system.

Some of the common boat accident injuries are:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Drowning
  • Lacerations
  • Whiplash
  • Burns
  • Broken bones
  • Limb amputations
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Mental anguish
  • Bone and ligament injuries

Many individuals involved in these accidents will experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or anxiety, including a fear of open water or flashbacks to the accident. This, too, can be disabling and lead to issues at work, school, and home. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, won’t just seek justice for your physical injuries but ensure that you receive compensation for mental distress as well.

What Should You Do If You Are the Victim of a Boat Accident?

Negligence, operator inexperience, and defective boating equipment are significant factors that cause people to be thrown around in the vessel or fall off the boat and drown [5].

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

You are required to file an accident report on the USCG website in the following circumstances:

  • If you are involved in any 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 fatalities in a water vessel accident.

Claiming Damages

You have legal rights and remedies to get compensation for economic and non-economic damages [6] if you are an injured party in an accident in Chicago. Economic damages refer to calculable types of compensation, such as medical bills and lost wages.

Contact a qualified attorney from our law offices to discuss your case.

Potential Defendants in a Boat Accident Injury Lawsuit

There are many potential defendants in these types of lawsuits. The possibility of multiple at-fault parties is consistent with the many different causes:

  • Crew members must be fully trained to act in an emergency.
  • Boats must have one personal flotation device [7] or USCG-approved life jacket for everyone on board.
  • When a boat out on a river, lake, or pond lacks proper equipment or the crew is not trained correctly, boat accident victims may sue the operator, owner, and other parties.

If you were injured in one of the many watercraft accidents in northeast Illinois or the tours and party boats that go out on Illinois waters, speak to experienced accident attorneys.

An experienced Chicago lawyer can investigate the facts of your case. Let our 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 Boat Accident Lawsuits

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

Below are some possible defendants in a boat accident lawsuit:

  • Boat Operators: Boaters can be held liable if they operate recklessly or disregard boating and maritime laws. The driver must be alert and avoid colliding with another boat, jet skis, or nearby swimmers.
  • Boat Owners can be liable for an accident if the vessel is not maintained regularly or operating safely on Illinois waterways, based on proper training.
  • Manufacturers of Watercraft: If the cause of the 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.
  • 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 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 negligence claim against the operators and owners responsible for your accident.

Viable lawsuits can also be filed for lack of proper safety equipment [8]—contact boat accident attorneys to discuss your case.

An experienced lawyer 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 a Chicago Boating Accident Lawyer

Even minor boat 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 bills.

Our firm’s Chicago boating accident lawyers will help you present your boating accident case to the insurance adjuster or file a lawsuit if necessary.

Contact an experienced Chicago injury attorney 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 financial compensation for your injuries, harm, or wrongful death.

Resources: [1], [2], [3] BoatUS Foundation, [4], [5] CDC, [6], [7] United States Coast Guard, [8]

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

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

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 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
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