Boats make for a great getaway on a summer day to spend time on the lake. Especially in Chicago, thousands of boats are put to use in the summer months. Unfortunately, not all of these relaxing or fun days on the lake are completely safe. There are numerous hazards that can cause a boat accident and cause major injury to the people involved.
The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) reported that in 2012, the total reported recreational boating accidents was 4,515. This is an astounding number and should prompt people to take precautions to stay as safe on the water as possible. Below, we will discuss the risks involved with boating accidents.
At Mike Agruss Law, we have helped thousands of clients to seek justice and compensation for personal injuries, and you won’t owe us a penny for our services unless we win your case. If you or a loved one has been injured from a boat accident, contact our Chicago personal injury lawyers today for a free consultation.
Causes of Boat Accidents
Boat accidents can have an added element of uncertainty for some due to the fact that it is a recreational activity set on water. Those who do not know how to swim or are poor swimmers still may use a boat, but there is an added level of danger. Due to the many variables at play, there can be many ways that a boat experiences an accident. Many of these can be attributable to negligence on the part of the boat’s operator. Some of the most common causes include the following:
- Alcohol or drugs – Boats are no different from cars in the sense that you cannot operate one under the influence. The USCG reported that in 2018, alcohol use was a factor in 254 reported accidents. Driving a boat requires coordination and awareness of what is occurring or who is around you, and substances such as alcohol or drugs impair one’s ability to make these judgements and use these skills. This applies to passengers, as well. A drunk passenger risks falling off of the boat due to a lack of coordination from excessive drinking.
- Operator inexperience – The person driving the boat should have a license to do so in addition to good experience and skills that come with practice. Someone without a license or minimal practice should not be in control of the boat, as it puts other boaters and their passengers in extreme danger. The USCG found that this was a causal factor in 387 accidents in 2018.
- Operator inattention – In addition to having and honing the skill of driving a boat, the driver must be paying attention at all times. They should keep an eye on their surroundings and if the boat needs maintenance or any type of care to ensure that it is properly running. Failure to do so could end in a tragic accident, as seen by the USCG’s report that a whopping 654 accidents were caused by this in 2018 – the largest cause of all accidents that year.
- Machine malfunction or defect – These situations could be a product liability case. Boats should be built with extreme care given the nature of their function. When a boat malfunctions due to a design or manufacturing defect, the boat could begin to sink or even catch fire.
- Speeding – Even boats must follow rules on water, which includes maintaining a safe speed. If the operator of the boat is driving excessively fast, they could hit a large wave or wake or fail to see obstructions, other boats, or other objects that could harm them.
- Overcrowding – Boats have a maximum capacity to keep its passengers safe. When this capacity is exceeded, the boat becomes vulnerable to sinking due to instability.
- Failure to recognize inclement weather – The operator of a boat must take external factors into account when deciding whether or not to use it. If weather is bad, such as thunderstorms, lightning, or heavy rain then it would be very dangerous to use the boat.
- Lack of safety equipment – Similarly, it would be very dangerous to operate the boat without the proper safety equipment on board such as life jackets, a sanitation device, distress signals, fire extinguishers, and more.
Injuries After a Boat Accident
- Bruising, cuts, and scrapes
- Drowning injuries
- Burn injuries
- Concussion or traumatic brain injury
- Loss of consciousness
- Spinal cord injury
How Do I Pursue a Legal Claim After a Boat Accident?
There are many ways to go about a claim for your damages after a boat accident. It depends primarily on what type of accident occurred and how it occurred. But, our attorneys are here to fight for you and get you fairly compensated for the trauma and experience that you have had to endure.
If you were injured on a boat that suffered from a design or manufacturing defect, you may be able to sue the manufacturer or vendor of the boat or the specific component of the boat that was defective. This is a product liability claim, since the manufacturer or vendor allowed the public to buy/sell dangerous products.
If you were injured on a boat that was in a collision with another boat or an object, you may be able to sue the operator of one of the boats. This depends on which operator proves to be at-fault for the accident. One could have played a larger role in causing the accident, in which case, you would be able to find them liable in a negligence claim.
If you were on a boat on which you expected to be safe, but a maintenance issue arose, you may be able to sue the individual that was responsible for this job. Whether the operator or owner of the boat was the one responsible for maintaining and inspecting the boat, they owed you a duty of care by ensuring that the boat was safe to use. This individual would be the liable party in a negligence claim.
Similarly, if the operator of the boat was speeding, inexperienced, or inattentive, you may be able to sue them in a negligence claim. They owed a duty of care to the passengers on the boat. By failing to uphold this standard, they behaved with negligence, put people’s lives at risk, and caused injury to you and possibly others.
Damages That Can Be Recovered
Bus accidents can cause severe physical injuries such as broken bones, bruising, sprains, lacerations, concussions, whiplash, disfigurement, disability, or even death. The medical costs accompanying these injuries can amount to a hefty sum. With a successful claim, you can recover these costs and other damages that you endured from this accident. Some damages that you can recover after a bus accident include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Future loss of earnings
If you or a loved one has been injured from a boat accident, contact our office today for a free consultation.