Countless numbers of boaters take advantage of Lake Michigan, Des Plaines River, Chicago River, Fox River, Illinois River, Chain O’Lakes and the many small streams throughout the Chicago area. Unfortunately, boating accidents occur too often on these waterways.
Sometimes, these accidents can’t be helped. Some occur because of adverse weather conditions; other times, however, a boating accident may be caused by the driver’s negligence or some defect in the boat or its equipment.
If you were involved in a boating accident that was caused by negligence or a boat defect, you may be entitled to compensation. The Chicago boating accident lawyers at Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. can help. With offices conveniently located in Chicago and Waukegan, we have helped numerous boat crash victims throughout the state.
In fact, our firm recently obtained a $1 million boating collision settlement on behalf of a client who became trapped under a capsized boat. While every case is different, we have the expertise and knowledge about boat wrecks to help you win the largest amount of compensation possible given your situation.
To schedule a free consultation, call our Chicago boating accident attorneys today at 312-361-1823 or use our online form.
Boating Accidents Occur in the Chicago Area
According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, 102 boat crashes occurred in Chicago in 2009. These boat wrecks led to 70 injuries and 25 deaths. Nationally, there were 4,588 accidents in 2011, the U.S. Coast Guard reports. These accidents caused 3,081 injuries – 758 fatal – and an estimated $52 million in property damage.
The majority of Illinois boating accident deaths result from drowning, and most victims were not wearing a life jacket. Also, statistics show that fatal boat crashes more likely occur when boaters lack proper safety instruction. For instance, the Coast Guard indicates that only 11 percent of the fatalities in 2011 occurred on boats where the boat operator had reviewed boating safety instructions.
Causes of Chicago Boating Accidents
The U.S. Coast Guard data shows a clear link between deaths and a lack of boating safety knowledge. But there are many causes of boating accidents. According to U.S. Coast Guard data, common causes of boating crashes include:
- Alcohol and drug use
- Excessive speed
- Failure to ventilate the boat or equipment
- Failing to properly observe other boaters (i.e., improper lookout)
- On-board navigation lights that do not work properly
- Boat operator inattention
- Inexperience of the boat operator
- Restricted vision
- Infraction of the rules of the “road,” including right-of-way rules
- Sharp turns
- Starting the boat in gear
- Improperly anchoring the boat
- Loading the boat incorrectly such as distributing weight improperly or overloading the boat
- Equipment failure
- Hull failure
- Machinery failure
- Overly congested waterways
- Hazardous waters, including waves or wakes
- Bad weather
- Missing or insufficient navigation aids
- Fires caused by spilled fuel or vapors igniting.
In some cases, a combination of these factors may contribute to an accident that injures or harms someone.
Our Chicago Lawyers Hold Negligent Boaters Accountable
Human error, improper boat maintenance or boat defects are the underlying cause of most boating accidents. If any of these factors played a role in an accident that injured you or caused the death of a loved one, you may be able to seek legal relief. Possible scenarios include:
- Being the passenger on a boat driven by a friend or acquaintance who was drunk, failed to obey the rules or otherwise failed to act with the reasonable care that any boat driver should exhibit. You may be able to make a claim against the boat operator for negligence.
- Being on a boat involved in a collision caused by another vessel, such as a boat or jet ski. You may be able to hold the driver of the other watercraft responsible. This, too, would be a negligence case.
- A defect in the design or build of the boat caused the accident. You may be able to hold the manufacturer or seller of the boat responsible. In this case, you would need to bring a product liability case against the manufacturer. If the boat malfunctioned when used as intended and caused or contributed to the harm you experienced, then the manufacturer would be strictly liable for your injuries.
- You trusted someone to perform maintenance on your boat. If that person failed to properly service or maintain it or failed to identify broken or damaged parts, he could be held responsible for negligent maintenance.
The Chicago boating accident lawyers of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. can help. We can determine if one or more potential defendants exists in a boating accident case. If so, you may be able to collect money for pain and suffering, medical costs, lost wages, emotional distress and other damages. If the boating crash resulted in a death, the victim’s family members may pursue a wrongful death claim.
Proving Negligence in Chicago Boating Accident Cases
When you make a claim against a boat operator or one responsible for boat maintenance, you will need to prove negligence to receive compensation. Negligence can typically be proven in one of two ways:
- Negligence per se – You may make a negligence per se case if the boat operator violated safety laws that exist in Illinois to protect boaters. In these cases, negligence is assumed. The injured victim is not required to prove negligence. For instance, under Illinois boating laws, it is unlawful to operate a boat in a “No Wake” zone at a speed above 5 mph. If a boater was operating his boat in such a zone at a higher speed, then he would be in violation of a safety law. If an accident resulted from his high speeds in the No Wake Zone, he would be assumed negligent in the eyes of the law.
- Negligence – You may also make a common law negligence claim. This involves showing that the boat operator or person responsible for maintaining the boat was more careless than a reasonable party would have been in his situation.
Our Chicago boating accident attorneys can help you to determine which legal theory or theories are best to make your claim after a boat wreck.
Contact Our Chicago Boat Accident Lawyers Today
At Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., our attorneys have obtained substantial recoveries on behalf of clients. We have recovered verdicts in excess of $1 million in more than 180 cases and collected a total of more than $630 million in damages for our clients. We can put our skill and experience to work for you in your boating accident case. Call us today for a free, no-obligation consultation at 312-361-1823 or use our online form.