Many Chicago residents may take to the Chicago River to enjoy a day out on a boat. While this is a great way to make the most of the warm months, those operating watercraft still need to be attentive to what they’re doing. When someone navigating a boat acts recklessly, they can cause a devastating accident. If you or a loved one has been harmed because of a negligent boat operator, a Chicago boat accident lawyer from Thomas Law Offices can help you get the justice you deserve.
Our lawyers can help you through the legal process and find out who was responsible for your injuries. When a boating accident occurs, finding out why the accident happened can be a complex process. There may be multiple parties involved, which can make seeking compensation complicated. It takes an experienced attorney to investigate what happened and find out who was involved in the accident, the events leading up to the accident, and how you were harmed as a result of the accident.
Let’s begin by looking at how negligence can contribute to boating accidents.
How Does Negligence Contribute to Boating Accidents?
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources Boating Report 2017 showed that the state had 6,019 total accidents. Out of those accidents, there were 3,702 injuries and 1,337 fatalities. The report also breaks down the primary causes of accidents.
- Alcohol caused the most fatalities, 3. Accidents caused because of alcohol also caused 2 injuries.
- Careless or reckless operation caused 9 injuries.
- Additional causes of boating accidents include operator inattention, excessive speed, machinery failure, equipment failure, and force of wake.
Even if you don’t recognize the reason why your accident happened, you should still get in touch with a Chicago boating accident lawyer. While it’s possible for the operator of the other boat to be at fault for your injuries, there’s also a chance they experienced an issue with their boat that caused them to lose control. If they have a defective part on their boat that malfunctioned when they were on the water, the company that manufactured that part could be responsible for your injuries.
This is why it’s vital to have a trained expert on your side who will review the facts and reports and find out exactly what happened and why. When you have all the information, you can proceed to seek compensation for the injuries you suffered.
Types of Boat Accidents
To determine how the opposing party caused your boat accident, your lawyer will want to figure out what type of accident you were in. The most common types of boat accidents that warrant personal injury claims include the following:
- Commercial Boating Accidents. If you work on the water, you know there are unique dangers present at all times. Unfortunately, careless operations, equipment failures, and deck fires can make those dangers even more apparent. Whether you work on a tanker, barge, tugboat, or any other commercial vessel, you have the right to take legal action if you’ve been injured and are no longer able to work. The same goes for crewmen on shrimping and fishing boats, who may be entitled to compensation if injured through negligence or unseaworthiness. The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 allows injured seapersons the ability to sue their employer for negligence that caused their injuries.
- Jet Ski Accidents. While jet skis are most often used recreationally, the combination of speed, water conditions, and lack of experience or instruction can lead to an accident. This can also happen if the jet ski operator is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This type of accident has the potential to be fatal because of how close the rider is to the surface of the water and the lack of protective gear.
- Yacht Accidents. If a yacht operator or owner doesn’t have the proper training and experience to operate such a large vessel, an accident can occur. Other factors like speeding, ignoring safety rules, failing to maintain the boat, and ignoring navigational rules can also lead to passenger injury.
- Pontoon Boat Accidents. While pontoon boats are great for relaxing, they aren’t built for speed. If the operator is unaware of how to operate a pontoon safely, those on board are at risk of injury. Passengers are also at risk if they sit outside of the railings on the edge of the boat. Drownings, propeller accidents, and run-over accidents are common.
- Marina and Dock Accidents. Not all boating accidents happen on the water. Dockworkers, longshoremen, and others on marinas or docks can be injured when equipment isn’t operated or maintained properly.
- Party Boat Accidents. Accidents occurring on party boats are often related to intoxicated operators and passengers.
If you’ve been injured in a boating accident, it’s important to see medical attention as soon as possible. There are a variety of injuries you could sustain–some of which could be severe.
What Are the Possible Injuries of a Boating Accident?
Boating accident injuries can occur in many ways and can be potentially life-threatening. If someone is on the boat and they are involved in a collision, they can be thrown from the boat and into the water. If they are hit by the boat itself, they can sustain injuries like head trauma, broken bones, and cuts. When someone is dazed and in the water, they may not have a life jacket to keep themselves afloat. Drowning is a potential concern at that point.
If someone is left in the water for too long and the water is cold, the person could be in danger of hypothermia. Symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, slowed breathing, confusion, and overall weakness.
Some of these injuries can be incapacitating. If you’ve been in the hospital for your boating accident injuries, you may be looking at a long road to recovery. While treating these injuries can take time and will result in hospital bills, our attorneys will fight for your compensation to cover these costs.
Your time missed from work, past hospital bills, and future expenses for the care you’ll need to continue are monetary damages that you can recover. If any of your property was damaged, we’ll also fight for you to recover those losses as well.
Additional damages you can seek compensation for include pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life. These damages deal with the unseen consequences of sustaining injuries, such as not being able to live your life as you did before the accident.
Safety Tips for Boating
When you’re going out on a boat, you may want to keep these safety tips in mind so you can make sure you’re doing everything you can to stay safe while you’re on the water. The National Safety Council recommends the following:
- Wear a life jacket that fits you properly. The life jacket should be appropriate for your size so it can keep your head above water.
- Educate yourself about boating risks. Taking a safety course and learning about carbon monoxide poisoning and your state’s boating laws will help you stay informed about the risks of boating and take measures to reduce them.
- Maintain your vessel. According to the NSC, you can get a free vessel safety check with the local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadron.
- Bring extra clothes and sunscreen. Be prepared for being out in the sun and know the signs of heat-related illnesses. Having plenty of water, cool clothes, and a hat to protect yourself from direct sunlight can help prevent them.
- Use common sense and pay close attention to the weather. The day may start with clear skies and warm temperatures, but if you notice clouds rolling in and a temperature change, it’s best to stay safe and get out of the water.
While you can refer to these safety tips when you’re boating, a negligent boater can still cause an accident and injure you and others on the boat. That’s where our law office can help you find the way forward.
Thomas Law Offices Is Here for You
The devastation that a boating accident can cause can be overwhelming, but we will help you stand up for your rights. A Chicago boat accident lawyer from our firm is ready to evaluate your situation and determine the best way to proceed to ensure you receive the compensation you need to move past the accident and get on with your life. While filing a claim can seem complicated, our attorneys will be by your side every step of the way. Get in touch with Thomas Law Offices today so we can start going over your legal rights and options.