CHICAGO BOAT ACCIDENT LAWYER

PRACTICE AREAS

Legal Representation for Boat Accident Victims in Chicago

CHICAGO BOAT ACCIDENT LAWYER
Boating accidents can happen in a matter of seconds, but the injuries someone may suffer can last a lifetime. We know how overwhelming the aftermath of any type of accident can be. Medical bills, rehabilitation costs, and lost wages can lead to serious financial stress and concerns about the future. A boat accident lawyer at Curcio Law Offices can bring you the comfort of knowing you won’t be taken advantage of by insurance companies and their lowball settlement offers. If you or a loved one experienced injuries from a boating accident, call us today at 312-321-1111.

2020 Boat Accident Statistics

According to a report from the U.S. Coast Guard, 767 Americans died and 3,191 suffered injuries from boating accidents in 2020. 75% of boating deaths were due to drowning and 86% of those who drowned weren’t wearing life jackets. The most common causes of these fatal boat accidents were:
  • Lack of attention by the boat operator
  • Lack of experience by the boat operator
  • Improper lookout
  • Speeding
  • Machinery failure

How Do Boating Accidents Happen?

Just as there are numerous ways for a vehicle accident to occur, there are plenty of ways that a boating accident might happen. Some accidents are just that – accidents. Other times, someone else’s negligence is to blame. Plenty of accidents occur because of negligent behavior, whether it be from passengers, other boaters, or the captain of the vessel themselves. The most common causes of boating accidents are:
  • Driving a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Speeding
  • Failing to pay attention to other boats on the water, also called improper lookout
  • Broken on-board navigation lights
  • General inattention of the boat operator
  • Inexperienced boat operator
  • Restricted vision
  • Not following the rules of the “road.” For example, not following right-of-way rules
  • Sharp turns
  • A boat operator starting the boat in gear
  • Failing to anchor the boat properly
  • Overloading the boat or improperly distributing weight in the boat
  • Equipment, hull, or machinery failure
  • Busy waterways
  • Poor weather conditions that cause waves or wakes in the water
  • Fires caused by vapor igniting or spilled fuel

Is it Illegal to Operate a Boat Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol?

As stated previously, a common cause of boating accidents is alcohol or drug use. In every single state, it’s against the law for someone to operate a boat while intoxicated or impaired by drugs. You may receive a boating under the influence charge (BUI) if you have a BAC of 0.08% or higher or have a concentration of 5 or more nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood.

BUI Penalties in Illinois

If you’re caught boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Illinois, you could face serious consequences including massive fines and years in jail.
  • First offense is a class A misdemeanor under Illinois law. You could face a $2,600 fine and up to a year in jail.
  • Second offense is a class 4 felony in Illinois. You could face three years in jail and a $25,000 fine.
  • BUI causing serious injury: If a boat operator’s intoxication causes serious harm or permanent disability to other boat passengers, they can face a class 4 felony. Again, that’s up to three years in jail plus a $25,000 fine.
  • BUI on suspended operator’s privilege: If a boat operator receives a BUI while already facing suspension from operating a boat, the penalty is a class 4 felony again.
  • BUI causing death: If a boat operator’s intoxication causes the death of one or more people, the penalty in Illinois is a class 2 felony. Under this penalty, a boat operator can face up to 14 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.

Common Injuries From Boating Accidents

Boat accidents can cause a variety of injuries depending on the severity of the accident. Some of the most common boat accident injuries include:
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) generally happen when a person is under water too long after a boat accident. The lack of oxygen can cause life-long damage to the brain. Additionally, passengers can suffer a TBI if they’re thrown against a boat wall or another object during a boat accident.
  • Cuts and scrapes are common injuries from boat accidents due to sharp propellers or other sharp objects in a boat. If anyone falls off a boat or comes into contact with propellers while they’re spinning, they could suffer deep lacerations.
  • Amputations are also common injuries if passengers come into contact with rotating propellers.
  • Whiplash is a neck injury that’s common in car accidents as well. Boat passengers can suffer whiplash if a boat abruptly stops or turns.
  • Broken bones can happen if passengers fall or hit objects during a boat accident.
  • Drowning is generally a common cause of death due to boat accidents instead of an injury. Many boat passengers drown because of not wearing life jackets or from being too disoriented to swim after an accident.

How to Prevent Boat Accidents

When it comes to preventing potentially deadly boating accidents, both the boat operator and the passengers must do their part.
  • Drink responsibly: Wanting to enjoy alcoholic beverages during a sunny day on the lake is normal among adults. However, it’s crucial for the boat operator to drink responsibly considering intoxication causes so many accidents. Being in the sun all day can exacerbate the effects of alcohol in the body, so it’s important to limit your alcoholic drinks and drink plenty of water.
  • Take a boating safety course: Another major cause of boating accidents is human error. To keep your passengers extra safe, consider taking a boating safety course.
  • Make sure you have safety equipment on board: Not only should everyone have a life jacket available in case of emergencies, but your boat should have a first-aid kit, boat lights, an anchor, and a fire extinguisher as well.
  • Monitor weather and water conditions: If bad weather is moving in, you should naturally expect poor water conditions too. Stormy and windy weather causes choppy waters which can be dangerous for boaters.
  • Don’t speed: As stated previously, speeding has caused numerous boating accidents in America. Boat operators should follow speed limits on the water to keep everyone safe.
  • Follow navigation rules: Just like there are countless rules for driving, there are rules for boating too. Rules for both boats and cars exist to keep everyone safe and everyone should follow them carefully.
  • Be vigilant: Lastly, it’s crucial for all boat operators to watch what they’re doing and where they’re going. Similar to driving, you can hit other boats or objects if you’re not paying attention to the “road.”

When Are You Required to Report a Boating Accident?

According to Illinois’ Department of Natural Resources, you must report a boating accident if it resulted in a fatality, a missing person, a serious injury, complete loss of the vessel, or total property damage of $2,000 or more.
 
If an accident meets this criteria, you must report your accident to both the state and local police departments. Within your report, you must include following information:
  • Date of accident
  • Location of accident
  • Time of accident
  • Watercraft operator’s name, phone number, and address
  • Watercraft’s identification number, if any
  • Names of all other occupants on the watercraft or otherwise involved in the accident

What Type of Report Should I File If There’s a Boating Accident in Illinois?

In addition to reporting the accident to your local law enforcement agency, the Illinois Boat Registration and Safety Act of 1959 requires people to report all boating accidents to the Department of Natural Resources, regardless of damage or injuries. Boaters can fill out a Boating Accident Form in order to report an accident. Once you complete the form and provide a full description of the accident, you can either send the file virtually to dnr.boataccidents@illinois.gov or print it out and mail a physical copy to the address below:
 
Illinois Department of Natural Resources
 
Office of Law Enforcement
 
Attention: Boat Accident
 
One Natural Resources Way
 
Springfield, IL 62702

Statute of Limitations for Boating Accidents in Illinois

The state of Illinois asks that you report your boating accident to local law enforcement as soon as possible. In no case should your report come more than one hour after the accident unless you were hospitalized or incapacitated during that time. If you were in the hospital, the report should come no later than an hour after you leave go home or regain mental and physical capacity.
 
The DNR has a little more leeway when it comes to reporting times. You should file a report within 5 days following the incident in the case of injury, loss of the vessel, or property damage over $2,000. However, if a fatality occurred as a result of the accident, you should file a report with the DNR no later than 48 hours following the incident.

How Can a Boat Accident Lawyer Help Me?

Having an experienced boat accident lawyer on your side is crucial in your personal injury case. Dealing with insurance companies on your own can be challenging, as they often try to maneuver their way out of compensating you. They may try to pay less than you deserve or deny your claim altogether. An experienced boat accident lawyer is familiar with these tactics and knows how to negotiate from a legal standpoint to make sure you receive the compensation you deserve.
 
In addition to dealing with insurance companies, a boat accident lawyer can also help determine the facts of your case and gather evidence to support those facts. That way, if your case goes to trial, your lawyer can present this evidence to the court and defend you against any alternate claims.

Compensation for a Boating Accident

If you or a loved one was severely injured or killed in a boat accident, compensation is available through a personal injury or a wrongful death lawsuit. Depending on the details of the accident, compensation could cover these types of damages:
  • All medical bills
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Physical disabilities or disfigurement
  • Mental anguish
  • Mental disabilities
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Property damage
  • Loss of companionship
Having a skilled legal team such as the attorneys at Curcio Law Offices on your side can help ensure you receive the best possible outcome for your specific case.

Call a Boat Accident Lawyer at Curcio Law Today

If you suffered injuries due to a boating accident, don’t hesitate to take action. As a top Chicago personal injury firm, Curcio Law Offices handles any cases involving boat accidents. Like with all personal injury lawsuits, you have a limited time to file a claim, so schedule a consultation with us as soon as possible. From there, we can give you a better idea of the timeline, the investigation, and whether or not your best option would be to settle or go to trial. Call our boat accident lawyers today at 312-321-1111 to schedule your free consultation.