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Who Is at Fault for a Boating Accident in Illinois?

 Posted on May 20, 2020 in Personal Injury

Joliet boating accident lawyersMay is National Water Safety Month. This type of safety awareness can apply to boating, swimming, fishing, and any other type of water sport. Now that the weather is warming up in Illinois, boat owners are taking their boats out of storage and preparing them to hit the water. Similar to vehicles on the road, there are certain rules and regulations that anyone operating a watercraft must follow. Illinois boating laws are aimed to protect drivers, passengers, and others who are enjoying excursions on Lake Michigan or smaller inland lakes. Boat owners must complete a safety course before obtaining a boating license. However, even when all safety precautions are taken, a boating accident can occur due to various reasons. The injuries sustained from a boat crash can be minor to fatal. It is important to understand what actions or behaviors can lead to accidents on the water and who may be responsible for injuries.      

Operator Error

Some people may think that driving a boat is just like an automobile, but there are differences. Anyone who is operating a boat, whether motorized or not, must pay careful attention. Operator inexperience or inattentiveness can put passengers at risk. Not knowing the proper nautical terms or navigation techniques can cause the person commanding the boat to become lost, placing others in danger if they become stranded. Violations such as too many people onboard with not enough life jackets can also pose a significant risk of drowning.

In some cases, a driver may consume alcohol or drugs before or during a boat trip. Being under the influence impairs his or her ability to safely operate a watercraft. Studies have proven that controlled substances reduce a person’s reflexes and reaction times. If there are other boats in the surrounding area, an intoxicated driver may not be able to turn quickly enough or slow down, thus colliding with another ship.     

Faulty Parts

A boat must undergo routine maintenance just like a car to make sure everything is in proper working order. Failure to change worn or defective parts can lead to a malfunction, such as the ability to steer the boat in the right direction. Manufacturers or retailers who do not inspect their equipment may be found negligent.

Inadequate lighting can make it hard for passengers to see at night, which might cause them to lose their fitting, trip, and fall overboard. In addition, rotted wood on a sailboat may break apart and allow water to come onto the deck, making surfaces slippery. In some situations, if a boat takes on too much water, it can sink. Boat owners should be periodically checking all areas of their vessels and replacing any damaged sections. 

Inclement Weather

Weather can be unpredictable, and sometimes it can change in an instant. When you are in open water, this change in conditions can be especially hazardous. In some cases, high winds can cause crashing waves to reach heights up to 10 feet or more. Torrential rain can greatly reduce visibility for the boat’s driver. Lightning can also strike the watercraft, igniting a fire.

Similar to vehicles on the roadway, reckless actions such as speeding can cause a boat to overturn or capsize. Occupants of the boat who cannot swim could easily drown in rough waters.    

Contact a Will County Personal Injury Lawyer

Boating can be a fun leisure activity until it turns dangerous. An accident involving watercraft can impact the rest of your life. At the distinguished law firm of McNamara Phelan McSteen, LLC, we are committed to securing appropriate compensation for individuals who are injured or disabled due to the negligence of others. Our Joliet boat accident attorneys have obtained millions of dollars in settlements, awards, and verdicts for our clients. Call us today at 815-727-0100 to schedule your free consultation.



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