Illinois Boat Accident Attorneys for Rockford and Surrounding Areas

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Illinois Boat Accident Lawyers

Boat Accidents Are As Serious As Car Accidents

If you or a loved one were injured or killed in a boating accident in Illinois, you should consider contacting our boat accident attorneys. We can help you navigate your injury or death of a family member. 

Boat Injury Compensation

We take boat accident injuries seriously. With Pierce Lake, the Rock River, Lake Summerset, Lake Carroll, and a variety of other navigable bodies of water. Rockford, Illinois metro area has a high chance of boat accidents.

Our lawyers litigate boat accident cases throughout the State of Illinois. Boat accidents can take place for a variety of reasons and lead to tragic results. Negligent water users can often cause accidents that injure and even kill other people. When this happens, the victims of that accident have the right to pursue compensation for their injuries. 

Boat accidents are similar to car accidents.

If you’ve been in an accident and there isn’t proper insurance coverage:
See Our Underinsured Motorist Page (Their insurance doesn’t fully cover your accident.)
See out Uninsured Motorist Page (They didn’t have ANY insurance.)


Who Is Liable In A Boating Accident

With thousands of registered boats across the state, some accidents are bound to happen. Sadly, some of these incidents result in fatalities. 

Drowning causes the vast majority of fatal boat accidents. Most victims were not wearing a lifejacket at the time of the accident. Boaters who fail to take safety courses or learn how to operate their boats are more likely to be involved in severe accidents. 

Illinois boaters are responsible for their boat just like a driver is responsible for their car. There are steps boat drivers can take to prevent accidents and prepare for accidents. Yet, a responsible boat operator can still get involved in a boat accident because of another person’s negligence. 


Boat Accident Insurance Claims

Negligence occurs when a person neglects to act in a reasonable manner. Negligence claims are the basis of most car crash lawsuits. Boating incidents are similar. A person filing a personal injury lawsuit against a boat operator will likely make a negligence claim.

Many boat accident cases benefit from negligence per se policies.

Negligence per se policies is basically the concept that if a person in an accident broke the law – they are likely the cause of the accident in question. 

Illinois law states that if a boat operator violates a safety-related law, the court will assume that injuries resulting from that violation are also the result of negligence. There will be fewer steps to prove negligence in these cases. 

One example of negligence per se would be if a boat operator caused a crash while operating a vessel after consuming alcohol. Speeding or otherwise violating boating-related regulations will also likely result in the plaintiff’s ability to claim negligence per se.


Boat Crashes and Comparative Negligence in Illinois

As a victim of a boating accident are you partially responsible for the accident? What does this mean for your case?

What is Comparative Negligence in Boat Accidents?

Comparative negligence basically means you may still file a boat accident claim even if you are partially responsible for the accident

Illinois negligence law follows what is called comparative negligence. Comparative negligence policies will allow for a person to recover damages even if the victim is partly to blame for their own injuries. In Illinois, as long as the victim is less at fault than the other party, the plaintiff will be able to collect damages from the defendant. The court will reduce the damages to reflect the plaintiff’s share of liability. 

For Example – An individual who suffers $100,000 in damages but is twenty percent at fault will recover 80 percent of the damages, or $80,000.

Comparative negligence for passengers in a boating accident.

When passengers on a vessel suffer injuries in a boat accident, it is unlikely that comparative negligence will factor into the claim. 


Filling a Boat Accident Claim in Illinois

The first step in pursuing a lawsuit against a negligent boat operator is to speak to an experienced boat accident attorney. Your attorney will examine the facts of your case and develop a strategy for recovering from the liable party or parties.

Your attorney will do the following: 

  1. Prepare the complaint document. 
  2. Files the complaint document (this starts the legal proceedings)
  3. Both parties enter the discovery process (investigate the claim)
  4. Optional – Deposition phase (attorneys from both sides gather answers to questions under oath)
  5. Settle or go to Trial

Most claims settle before trial. 

If the parties cannot settle, the case might proceed to trial, where a jury will make determinations regarding fault and damages. A lawsuit can take a long time to complete. It is important to find an attorney who is prepared to answer your questions and work with you throughout this process. 

Rockford Personal Injury Lawyers Prepare ALL Cases for Trial

Preparing a claim or case for trial is the most extensive work a lawyer can do. Many lawyers will forgo preparing the case for a trial as it’s easier BUT the case has a higher chance of losing or resulting in lower compensation. Preparing a case for trial is the only way our attorneys work as case.

Damage Types Available to Boat Crash Victims in Illinois 

For individuals who suffer injuries in boating accidents, the costs can add up quickly. When a person recovers damages following an accident, they will be able to recover both economic damages and non-economic damages

Economic VS Non-Economic

The medical bills are just one part of what is considered economic damages. In many accidents, the victim will also miss time at work. Lost wages are another form of economic damages. Property damage, such as that caused to a destroyed boat, is included in economic damages that an injured party can collect. 

Non-economic damages acknowledge that the pain and suffering a person endures as a result of a traumatic injury. 

Although courts can reach fairly accurate numbers when it comes to economic damages through receipts and bills, it is impossible to put a value on a person’s pain and suffering. The court will typically multiply the economic damages by a certain number to reach an amount of non-economic damages. 

For this reason, non-economic damages are often for greater sums than economic damages. 

Punitive Damages

Sometimes individuals who were injured by another person’s particularly wrongful conduct can seek punitive damages. Punitive damages punish wrongful actors for their conduct. If a boat operator caused injuries because of particularly egregious conduct, you might wish to pursue punitive damages. These damages have nothing to do with the actual harm caused to the plaintiff and are fully dependent on the defendant’s conduct. 

Wrongful Death Claims in Illinois Boat Accidents

In some cases, the victim of a boat accident will die as a result of their injuries. In these cases, the damages may not include medical bills or lost wages, and the individual will not be able to file that lawsuit on their own behalf. In these claims, which are referred to as wrongful death lawsuits, certain family members will have the right to file a claim against the negligent person who caused the fatal incident. 

Illinois Surviving Spouse and Children

Only specific relatives have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In Illinois, a surviving spouse and the victim’s children may have the standing to file that lawsuit. If the person who died in the accident does not have surviving children or a spouse, that individual’s parents could have the right to file the wrongful death claim. Sometimes, the victim’s estate will be responsible for filing any claims related to the deadly accident. 

The damages in a wrongful death claim in Illinois differ from those in other personal injury cases. Damage which a family may seek in a wrongful death claim would include medical expenses if any preceded the victim’s death, funeral costs, the loss of financial support from the victim, loss of inheritance, and non-economic damages including emotional distress, loss of companionship, and in some situations punitive damages. 


Top Causes of Boat Accidents in Illinois 

Inexperienced boat operators frequently cause severe accidents on the water. Obtaining a boating license is not difficult, but it is still up to the operator for a boater to learn how to navigate the water safely. Failing to engage in proper training can lead to injuries and even tragic results. 

Sometimes, even experienced boat operators make bad choices. Distracted boat operation, similar to distracted driving, creates serious risks for everyone around that vessel. We tend to think of boating as a recreational activity, and it is not uncommon for boat operators and passengers to be communicating, socializing, and celebrating on the water. Although fewer vessels may be on the water than cars on the road, some obstacles can create dangers for people on a boat. 

Boating Under The Influence of Alcohol or Drugs

One of the worst types of boating accidents involves a boat operator under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Intoxicated boat operators are more likely to cause severe and fatal injuries than others. It is legal for passengers on a boat to consume alcohol, and people can keep open containers on board. Still, operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol is against the law. A boat operator should not consume alcohol, and a passenger who has been consuming alcohol should never attempt to operate the vessel. These accidents can happen quickly and lead to devastating results. 

Speeding and Boat Crash Claims

Boat crashes may also take place because of excessive speeding. Like driving, there are rules with which boat operators must comply. These regulations are in place to protect people on the water. Boat operators need to understand which vessel has the right of way, how to use navigation aids, and what to do in the event of a fire or other emergency. 

After all, it is often difficult to get immediate help in the event of an emergency when on a boat. 

Although boating can be fun, it can also turn dangerous in an instant. Boat operators should comply with the law and take reasonable safety precautions went on the water. 


Statute of Limitations on Boat Accidents in Illinois 

Illinois law places time limits on when a person may file a boating accident claim. Plaintiffs must file most personal injury claims no longer than two years after the date of the accident. The family of a victim must file a wrongful death claim within two years of the date of the victim’s death. This difference means that if the accident occurred, and the victim died two weeks later, the date of death and not the date of the accident is controlling for the statute of limitations in wrongful death claims. 

There are certain scenarios in which the court will extend the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is longer in cases where the victim is a minor at the time of their injuries. If the victim was younger than eighteen at the time of the accident, the two-year statute of limitations would start when that individual reaches the age of eighteen. Additionally, there are situations in which an injury does not appear until after the date of an accident. In those cases, there may be exceptions to the statute of limitations. A shorter statute of limitations applies in cases involving government entities. If a defendant is a government entity, the statute of limitations is shorter, and plaintiffs should promptly file their claims. 

Following a severe accident, the statute of limitations may seem far off in the distance. However, it is important to speak to an attorney sooner rather than later. Attorneys develop strategies for cases and often negotiate before filing the claim. Giving your attorney more time will help ensure that your representative is well prepared for filing a strong case on your behalf. If you fail to file your lawsuit within the statute of limitations, the court will prevent your claim from proceeding, even if you have a clear complaint against another person for negligence. 


Hire the Lawyers who Fight

Hiring an attorney means that you will have someone who can explain your rights and legal options for collecting compensation. Your attorney is also your advisor on legal matters and will be able to develop a strategy for your claim. Your lawyer is the person who will go to court and argue on your behalf and advocate for you to collect damages. The litigation process is stressful and complicated. Attorneys can focus on getting you the help and compensation you need so you can focus on getting better and taking care of yourself and your family. 

If you or a loved one has been hurt or injured in a boat accident Rockford Personal Injury Lawyers: Marriett & Murati, our boat accident lawyers are here to help. For a free, no-hassle, honest consultation on how we may be able to assist you in your recovery feel free to call, text message, or email us directly at 815-315-4967.