While collisions between boats may not be as common as other types of motor vehicle crashes, they can be equally dangerous and present the added risk of drowning. Throughout the summer, many of us love to travel up and down the Fox River, but occasionally people can suffer injuries due to crashes. Boat accidents can result in broken bones, skin lacerations, soft tissue damage, spinal trauma, brain damage, or even limb amputation, and injuries are often more severe for crashes that occur at high speed.
If you suffered serious injuries because of another boater’s negligence, talking to an Elgin boat accident lawyer may be in your best interests. A qualified personal injury attorney could work on your behalf to pursue comprehensive civil restitution for your injuries and the losses you sustained as a result of the accident.
What to Do after a Boating Collision
In the immediate aftermath of an incident, safety should be the first priority. Everyone involved should move their boats to shore if possible, summon emergency medical personnel to the scene, and apply first aid. After conditions have been stabilized, it is necessary to report the accident and collect evidence from the scene.
Like auto collisions, state law requires individuals involved in boat accidents to report incidents that result in damages. Specifically, any boating accident that leads to more than $2,000 in property damage, causes any injury requiring more than basic first aid, or results in a missing person or fatality must be reported to the Office of Law Enforcement in the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
It is also prudent to collect contact information from everyone involved and potential witnesses, as well as take photographs or videos of the damage each vessel sustained. These pieces of evidence, along with medical documentation of injuries sustained, could be of critical importance to a well-versed Elgin attorney in creating a comprehensive settlement demand for the boat crash.
Establishing Fault and Pursuing Compensation
Boat accident claims follow many of the same general principles as other personal injury cases. In order to hold a defendant accountable for injuries stemming from a boat wreck, the filing plaintiff must prove they were legally negligent. This requires a showing through a preponderance of evidence that the defendant violated a duty of care owed to the claimant and, as a direct consequence, caused an accident that resulted in compensable losses.
Importantly, the modified comparative fault rules established in 735 Illinois Compiled Statutes §5/2-1116 can be applied to watercraft cases if the injured plaintiff is found partially responsible for the boating accident. If a claimant is less than 50 percent at fault, a civil court will reduce their compensation according to their assigned level of responsibility. If their degree of fault exceeds 50 percent, they could be disqualified from recovering any damages at all.
A diligent boat collision lawyer in our community could help injured victims defend their right to compensation. If a case is ultimately successful, an injured party may be able to recover economic damages like medical expenses and boat repair costs, as well as non-economic damages like the cost of their suffering or the impact of a permanent disability.
Additionally, in the event that a boater or passenger passes away due to drowning in a maritime collision, their surviving family members may file a wrongful death claim on their loved one’s behalf. There are many types of damages that could be potentially included in a boating injury claim, so is always a good idea to retain a legal professional before trying to pursue civil compensation.
Remember to be safe when you are boating. Wear a life jacket. Illinois law requires that properly-fitting life jackets or life vests be available for everyone aboard a boat or any other type of watercraft.
Reach out to an Elgin Boat Accident Attorney for Help
Boat accidents can make for especially complex civil claims, especially with the added danger of drowning. For example, accidents that occur in waterways like Lake Michigan may be governed by federal maritime law rather than state civil law. An experienced attorney can provide guidance through legal complexities and advise you on how to best proceed with your specific case.
If you are considering pursuing compensation for your injuries, a qualified Elgin boat accident lawyer could be an invaluable ally. Call today to discuss your unique legal options with a knowledgeable legal representative at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd..