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The Dangers of Illinois Lakes and Waterways

chicago-navy-pier, personal inuryThousands of people visit Illinois lakes and waterways every year to enjoy the many recreational opportunities that are available. Unfortunately, due to the dangers that surround activities like boating and jet skiing, accidents are a real concern. While some incidents result in minor injuries, many are much more serious and victims do not return home in the same condition they arrived. Sadly, some are never able to return home at all.

According to the United States Coast Guard, there were 4,158 reported boating accidents in the U.S. in 2015. As a result, approximately 2,613 victims were seriously injured and 626 lost their lives. Although the number of boating injuries decreased by 2.4 percent since 2014, the number of accidents rose about 2.3 percent and the number of fatalities increased 2.6 percent.

Common Causes of Boating Accidents

While the reasons so many victims are injured or lose their lives to boating accidents vary significantly, there are a few main dangers to be aware of.

  • Alcohol Use: Alcohol use and boating simply don’t mix. When operators are impaired and driving a boat, the result can be deadly. The US Coast Guard reports that in cases where the primary cause was known, alcohol was the leading contributing factor in boat accidents that caused a fatality, accounting for 17 percent of deaths. Alcohol use was also one of the leading contributing factors for boating accidents that caused serious injuries.
  • Inexperience: Operator inexperience or lack of instruction can be very dangerous. In fact, this is the second-leading cause of all reported boating accidents and the third leading cause when injuries or fatalities are involved. In 2015, an alarming 71 percent of fatalities occurred on boats that were operated by someone who did not complete boating safety instruction, while just 15 percent of fatalities occurred with an operator who was had received a nationally approved boating safety education certificate.
  • Remaining Leading Factors: Operator inattention, mechanical failure, excessive speeding and improper lookout are the remaining leading factors in boating accidents.

When a victim is seriously injured or killed in a boating accident due to the willful or neglectful act of another in Illinois, the result can be both expensive and life altering. Fortunately, he or she may be entitled to receive financial compensation from all parties who are determined to be liable.