Lake Michigan Boating Accidents: Who Is Liable?

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Every summer, boaters take to Illinois many rivers and lakes for well-deserved rest and relaxation. Tragically, many of these endeavors end in serious or even fatal accidents if the operator fails to take proper safety precautions. In fact, boating accidents claim the lives of over 750 Americans every year according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

If you or your loved one was injured in a boating accident due to someones negligence, you may be able to hold them accountable in court. The Kryder Law Groups boating accident lawyers will help you navigate the complexities of Illinois boating law and court system to ensure you receive the maximum recovery you deserve. We do not get paid until you do, so call The Kryder Law Group for your free consultation today.

Who can be held responsible for a boating accident?

If another person or company negligently injured you or took the life of your loved one, you may be able to hold them legally responsible. Oftentimes, multiple individuals are responsible for any boating accidents.

Some common examples of negligent parties can include the:

  • Boat operator

  • Boat owner

  • Rental company

  • Boat manufacturer

  • Mechanics

  • Marina owner

If the negligent individual was working in the scope of their employment at the time of the boating accident, you may be able to hold their employer responsible under the legal doctrine of respondeat superior. This scenario is especially common for rented boats, yachts, and large commercial boats that employ sea captains and deckhands.

Common Types of Boating Accidents

Lake Michigan Boating Accidents: Who Is Liable? Infographic

There are many different types of boating accidents that can occur on Illinois waterways, but some are more common than others.

The most frequent types of boating accidents include:

Boating Collisions: You may be able to hold both operators liable if you were the victim of a boat collision. There are special rules for which boat has the right of way in the Chicago River as well as Lake Michigan, so you should consult your attorney so we can help you assess who is responsible.

Slip and Fall: Depending on the circumstances, falls due to collisions or poorly maintained decks, especially on larger boats and ships, may be actionable in court.

Water Hazards: If a watercraft rental company fails to warn you of known hazards such as dams, rapids, broken lights, or poorly illuminated breakwalls, you may be able to hold the company liable for failure to warn.

Mechanical and Structural Problems: When you are injured due to equipment failure, you may hold responsible parties such as mechanics, operators, and owners responsible in court.

Missing Life Jackets and Safety Devices: All vessels are required to have adequate life jackets and rescue devices. If your loved one drowned because the necessary life saving devices and other property used for safety were not available or accessible to render first aid, you may be entitled to recovery.

Drunk Boating: Drunk boating continues to be the number one known contributing factor in lethal boating accidents. According to the U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety Statistics Report, alcohol related accidents account for almost 20% of fatalities on boats each year.

What are some boating accident injuries?

Boating accident injuries are especially dangerous because passengers are often not seated and may be thrown onto the ground or even overboard without a life jacket in the event of a boat crash or boat collision.

Some common boating injuries include:

  • Head injuries

  • Spinal cord injuries

  • Amputation

  • Internal organ damage

  • Lacerations

  • Fractures

  • Drowning

In some cases, the boat accident results in fatalities for boaters.

What if a waiver was signed?

Defendants oftentimes force individuals to sign waivers before renting boats, kayaks, tubes, and other vessels. These waivers are used to try to avoid culpability for injuries they cause.

However, courts will not enforce broad or ambiguous waivers. Waivers must be clear, explicit, and concise, which usually means it must state the following:

  • The type of harm the signer is waiving

  • The type of risks and activities involved

  • The individual or company the signer is agreeing to waiver liability against

Whether these waivers are enforceable is highly fact specific and usually a decision for the judge to decide. If a waiver was signed, you are encouraged to bring the waiver with you to your free initial consultation so we can help you evaluate the strengths of your case.

What about other water accidents?

In addition to boating accidents, there has been a rise in injuries and drowning deaths involving rentals of personal watercraft and tours.

Some examples include:

  • Kayaks

  • Jet skis

  • Rafts and pontoons

  • Inflatable tubes

  • Guided tours

  • Fishing and nature excursions

If you were injured due to equipment malfunction, you may be able to hold the rental company responsible in court. Similarly, you may hold outfitters and guides responsible for any related accidents as part of their duty is to literally guide and help keep you safe.

What if my loved one was in a boat accident?

You do not need to fight for your rights alone. The Kryder Law Groups legal team is dedicated to helping you receive the maximum recovery for your boating accident.

We will help you identify responsible defendants, procure evidence and witness statements, and retrieve reports from law enforcement. We can write and file court paperwork, advocate for you in court, and negotiate against the defendants and their insurance companies in court.

If they refuse to settle, we will present your theory of the case and its supporting evidence to the jury to help you receive the compensation you deserve.

Case Results

We have recovered millions for boating and transportation accident victims. Our multi-million dollar recoveries include:

  • $3 million for family of man fatally struck by garbage truck

  • $2.2 million for worker seriously injured in an automobile collision

  • $2 million for man struck by automobile at CTA station

  • $1.5 million for accident on the expressway

Free Consultation

We work on a contingency basis, so that means we do not get paid until you do. We also offer free consultations for boating accidents victims and their families, so call The Kryder Law Group today.

Lake Michigan Boating Accidents: Who Is Liable?
Lake Michigan Boating Accidents: Who Is Liable?

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