In 2017, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources reported that there were 80 boat accidents in the state of Illinois. 48 people sustained injuries. 12 people died. All of those numbers were tragic – and represented growth from the previous year.
If you have experienced pain or suffering due to a boat accident, there are methods for you to pursue compensation to cover your care and costs. Whether your accident was in Lake Michigan, the Mississippi River, Carlyle Reservoir, or Rend Lake, there are statewide and national standards that protect your safety – and your rights in the event of an accident.
Illinois Maritime Laws and Regulations
According to Illinois Compiled Statutes regarding maritime regulations (or 625 ILCS 45/5-1 through 5-6), the state has identified several inappropriate ways of operating a boat. They include:
- Careless Operation: Operating a vessel in a way that could cause danger to nearby persons or property, e.g., speeding;
- Reckless Operation: Similarly, using a vessel in a dangerous way; for example, manipulating a watercraft in a way outside of its normal use; and
- Overloading or Overpowering: Pushing your vessel far beyond its recommended limits.
If, based on data from the incident, you can prove that the party responsible for the event was operating their vessel inappropriately, that could represent an avenue for you to make a claim based on their negligence.
The Primary Types of Illinois Boating Accidents – And How They Happen
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has provided a list of the most common types of Illinois boating accidents, starting with the most prevalent:
- Collisions with other vessels (far and away the most common cause of accidents)
- Collisions with fixed objects
- Falls overboard
- Fuel fires or explosions
- Falls on the boat
- Striking underwater objects
- Wake damage
The United States Coast Guard keeps a close eye on nationwide boating accidents, too – and has identified a list of the most common causes of these types of accidents. These causes include:
- Careless and Reckless Operation of a Boat
- Excessive Speed
- Alcohol Use
- Inexperienced Boat Driver
- Boat Passenger Carelessness or Recklessness
- Bad Weather
Alcohol use, in particular, is extremely common: In 2016 alone, the IL Department of Natural Resources made 175 maritime OUI arrests. The same law that governs unsafe use of a vehicle while inebriated governs maritime vessel usage, as well.
Determining Consequences Of and Liability For an IL Boating Accident
Since the conditions under which it is safe to operate a vessel are so regulated, it can be simple to determine liability. In other circumstances, wherein the main instigator is weather or unsafe boat parts, liability can be less certain. It’s also important to note that a third party can be responsible for an accident without even making contact with a damaged vessel by creating a dangerous wake.
When you submit an insurance claim or make a claim against a guilty party, you seek compensation for property damage, medications, pain and suffering, any lost wages or lost earning capacity, medical bills, and more. The insurance company or other party’s representation will do their best to mitigate or avoid blame for the incident. You must work with a legal team well-versed in boating accidents. An attorney with experience and expertise in this arena will know how to delve into your boating accident, what to look out for, and how best to build a case for your maximum compensation.
The Cullotta Bravo Law Group: Clever, Capable Expertise
If you or a loved one has experienced pain and suffering as a result of a boating accident, working with an experienced legal team is the best way to seek the compensation you deserve.
Among other sources of data, your legal team may examine medical reports from victims of the accident, and the prevailing standard of reasonable care provided by the operators of all involved vessels (which includes available life vests and the history of completed maintenance). Additionally, they may perform a comprehensive weather and environmental analysis. It can take a skilled eye to investigate precisely what happened in a multi-factor boating incident; and some insurance companies or inexperienced lawyers just won’t have the expertise to proceed in your best interest.
By delving into documentation, conducting a thorough investigation, and negotiating skillfully with insurance companies and other involved parties, the Illinois offices of Cullotta Bravo Law Group will work tirelessly to get you the compensation you deserve on a contingent fee basis. You will only pay when you win your case. We’re proud to put our long history of successful defense to work for you. Contact us today at 630-898-7800 to schedule your free initial consultation.