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Staying Safe on Illinois’ Waterways

Boating Season Is Here

When the temperature rises, many of us head to lakes and rivers to enjoy one of the summer’s simplest pleasures: boating. Boating safety is vital to ensure enjoyable recreation on Illinois’ waterways during summer. But, due to negligent operating, hazardous waters, alcohol impairment, swimmer ability, and other factors, a typically safe and harmless summer activity can quickly turn fatal. In fact, there were 77 boating accidents in Illinois in 2014, resulting in 54 injuries and, sadly, 20 fatalities.

Whether you are operating a boat, are a boat passenger, or swimming in waters near boats, you could be at risk for boating accidents. When inexperienced swimmers fall overboard or are hit by watercraft while swimming, the potential for drowning is significant. Recreational boaters can be relatively inexperienced and may not exercise the same level of care they would when behind the wheels of a car. For these reasons, it’s important to take safety precautions, such as:

  • Always wear a life jacket (drowning is the leading cause of death in boating accidents)
  • Avoid alcohol when operating a boat (it’s extremely dangerous and against the law to operate a vessel under the influence)
  • Take a boating course to learn how to properly operate a boat (most accidents involved operators who had little or no formal boating education), and
  • Use common sense when operating a boat or swimming near boats

Following these safety tips can greatly reduce your chance of getting in a boating accident. But if you were injured in a boating accident as a result of someone else’s negligence, you could have grounds for a personal injury claim. If someone else was liable for your injuries, you could stand to recover losses such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

If you’ve been injured in a boating accident, speak with an Illinois personal injury attorney in your area. It’s important to discuss your case with an attorney as soon as possible to ensure you can file a claim within a specified time frame and that all evidence is preserved. An attorney can review the facts and circumstances of your accident, help you identify the responsible parties, and potentially file a claim against them, so you can get the compensation you deserve.

Boating can be fun for everyone if safety is a top priority, so when out on Illinois’ lakes and rivers this summer, remember the above safety tips, and enjoy the water!

R.F. Wittmeyer

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