Boating, like all modes of motor vehicle transportation, involves strict safety rules that must be followed to ensure that everyone on the waterway is kept safe. These safety rules control right-of-way, navigation, how one vessel overtakes another, speed limits, towing skiers, wakeboarders and tubes, personal watercraft, and adherence to no-wake zones and to other buoys and aids to navigation. When boat operators do not strictly adhere to these rules, or when boaters operate under the influence, innocent people can be injured. Workers injured on boats or other vessels also have claims under the Jones Act.
The laws and rules applicable to boating injuries vary depending on the type of injury, the waterway upon which the injury occurs, and whether the crash occurred during daytime or nighttime hours. Boating accident cases involve complicated legal and factual issues, from determining which entity was at fault, establishing the cause of such accidents, and determining which court has jurisdiction over the case. When you are injured due to the negligence of a boater on Lake Michigan, Chain of Lakes, or other Wisconsin and Michigan waterways, it is important to contact a skilled Chicago boating accident attorney.
Causes of Boating Accidents
Some of the common issues and factors that may be at play during a boating accident include:
- High Water Traffic: On warm summer days, everyone who loves boating wants to be out on the water. But while these summer days (and evenings) may be ideal for taking your boat out, many other water enthusiasts may have the same idea. With so many boaters cruising the lakes and rivers, it is easy to have an accident if the driver is not paying attention to the other watercraft nearby.
- Driver Inexperience/Negligence: Many boat operators are relatively inexperienced, only taking their watercraft out a few times every summer. An inexperienced driver is prone to make mistakes that can cause accidents and injuries.
- Speeding: On the other end of the spectrum, there are boat operators with plenty of experience but simply lack judgment. They speed around the waterways creating dangerous waves that often lead to crashes.
- Boating while Intoxicated: According to a 2012 U.S. Coast Guard study, alcohol use was one of the leading contributing factors in fatal boating accidents. Alcohol clearly inhibits a person’s judgment and causes them to make poor decisions on the waterway.
- Adverse Weather Conditions: Bad weather and/or hazardous waters can be a factor in many boating accidents and fatalities. This is why in many states boaters (particularly those under age 18) are required to take a safety and navigation course so they are properly prepared for any adverse conditions while on the water.
- Equipment Failure: Boating crashes are sometimes the result of equipment failures such as a faulty engine or motor. To prevent this from happening, operators should always undergo a safety check before going out on the water.
Many boat collisions and crashes involve multiple factors and multiple parties with more than one party potentially at fault. For this reason, it is important to retain the counsel of an experienced Chicago boating accident attorney with vast experience handling the intricacies of these types of cases.
Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. has the highly specialized set of legal skills necessary to prove why an accident on the water occurred. If you have been injured in a boating accident or you have a family member who has been killed or injured in one, call the attorneys at HM&M immediately. At HM&M, our attorneys have the extensive knowledge, experience, and firm resources to obtain fair and adequate compensation for victims of boating accidents.