The Chicago area offers boaters an array of lakes and rivers for them to enjoy, however, with boating comes the risk of serious accident and injury. No matter how safe you and your passengers are, all it takes is one mistake by a reckless boater to turn your world upside down. And if you or someone you love has been injured in a boat accident, winning the compensation you need could be difficult.
You don’t have to face a boat accident injury by yourself. Instead, turn to Hale & Monico. Our personal injury attorneys can help you find the justice you deserve if someone else’s negligence has caused your injury. We’re ready to get started on your case today.
What causes a boat accident?
Every boat accident is different, but they are almost always the result of someone’s irresponsible actions. Knowing why a particular accident took place is essential to establishing the at-fault party’s negligence. It starts by considering a few of the most common causes of boat accidents, such as:
- Inexperienced operator. Operating a boat requires not just understanding the mechanics of the boat itself, but also a good handle on things like water safety rules, boating laws, and what to do in the event of an emergency. It’s relatively easy to get a boating license, but that doesn’t mean the operator has sufficient experience.
- Intoxicated operator. Boating is often associated with drinking, but the person responsible for operating the boat is required by law to be sober. Operating above the legal limit of alcohol can have drastic or even fatal consequences. The same is true if the operator is using drugs, whether they are prescription or illegal. Alcohol and drugs do not mix well with boating.
- Distracted operator. As with driving a motor vehicle, some distractions can take attention away from safely operating a boat. Texting or using the phone, talking with other passengers, and not paying attention to wind, weather, and wakes can cause catastrophic injury. Operating a boat is serious work and requires constant attention to the boat as well as others in the water.
- Speeding. Rules against speeding apply to boats in a way that’s similar to automobiles. Speeding reduces reaction time and can cause an operator to collide with another boat. It can also injure or kill swimmers in the water. Speed may indirectly contribute to an accident by causing a dangerous wake, and some regulations prohibit this behavior as well.
- Negligent maintenance or repair. Boats have to be properly maintained and repaired to avoid serious injury to passengers as well as other boats and swimmers. Failure to keep a boat in proper working order, or to correctly repair something broken or defective, can quickly spell tragedy. In cases like this, a third party may be to blame for the boating accident.
- Manufacturing defects. There are also cases in which the parts or components used on the boat could have dangerous defects. The manufacturer of the part may have used unreliable materials or overlooked a design flaw. These defects can render the boat unsafe, even with the most experienced operator at the helm.
- Lack of safety devices. Boats are required to have one personal flotation device (life jacket) for every passenger. They must also have a throwable device that can be used to rescue someone in danger. Far too many drowning accidents are caused by failure to follow these simple rules, but the operator could be held liable if an accident occurs.
Who Is Responsible After a Boating Accident?
Considering the above causes, all of the following (along with other parties) may be held liable for injuries resulting from a boating accident:
- The operator of the boat
- The operator of another watercraft
- Restaurants or bars who served too much alcohol to the operator
- Rowdy boat passengers
- Boat repair or maintenance shop
- Boat manufacturer
- Parts manufacturer
- Boat rental company
It’s also possible that multiple parties will share liability. This is an important determination because it’s generally easier to seek compensation when multiple parties are involved. An experienced Chicago boat accident attorney will investigate the cause of the accident and make sure all potential defendants are held accountable.
What to Do After a Boating Accident
After a boating accident, seek immediate medical attention. Call 911 and make sure your passengers are taken care of. Also, get to safety until help arrives. Not taking these steps could make your or your passengers’ injuries worse.
To the extent possible, take pictures or video of the accident scene. Also get as much information as you can about all parties involved, including the other boat and its operator and passengers. Make sure you note the decals that are required by law to be displayed on the boat and obtain the other boat’s registration information. Also record any details about the other boat, its operator, and its passengers, in the event the boat flees the scene.
Finally, contact a knowledgeable Chicago boat accident attorney. Your attorney will get to work finding out why and how the accident happened and will begin documenting your damages, including:
- Medical bills
- Prescription drug costs
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
These damages will form the basis of your demand for monetary compensation, so getting them right is critical. Your case may require input from an expert witness, for example, someone who can assign a fair dollar amount to the future medical treatments you may require.
Contact a Chicago Boating Accident Attorney
Our law firm knows what to expect after a boating accident and we know how to put together a compelling legal case. Retaining a dedicated lawyer early in the process is essential to preserving evidence and ensuring the at-fault parties are held accountable for their negligence. When experience counts, count on Hale & Monico. Call us today to schedule your consultation.