What is the first thing you must do if you are involved in a boating accident? The first priority is to keep everyone safe by remaining calm, making sure everyone is still on board or afloat, and providing medical attention to injured parties as soon as possible.
The Dangers of Illinois Boating Accidents
A boating accident can be a terrifying experience because of the added risks of drowning. Illinois has an abundance of rivers and lakes throughout the state that make boating a popular pastime. Residents and visitors are seen in motorized boats and non-motorized boats, enjoying the water during every season of the year.
In 2021, there were 93 reported boating accidents on Illinois waters, resulting in 28 serious injuries and 16 fatalities. The top reasons for these boating accidents included the following:
- Treacherous water conditions
- Bad weather and restricted vision
- Operator errors
- Equipment failure
- Insufficient navigation aids
- Intoxicated or impaired boat operators
What to Do in the Aftermath of the Boating Accident
After a boating accident, what is the first thing you must do? If the boat is still afloat, make sure all passengers are still on board and wearing an appropriate life jacket for safety. If anyone has fallen overboard, you should help him or her back into the boat as quickly as possible to avoid the risk of shock, hypothermia, or drowning.
Once all passengers are accounted for, injuries should be evaluated and medical aid should be rendered. It is important to look for any symptoms of internal bleeding that may present added injury risks or higher risks of complications and death to the victim.
After checking each person and providing appropriate medical aid, the next priority should be keeping the boat out of harm’s way. It is essential to move the boat out of the path of oncoming vessels to prevent further damage to the vessel and injuries to passengers. Once the boat is safely secured, the Coast Guard should be contacted immediately.
If the boat has been severely damaged or is sinking, climbing onto floating debris and signaling for help is advised. To prevent further injuries or drowning, make certain that everyone in the water is wearing a life jacket. The U.S. Coast Guard reports that 70 percent of boating accident fatalities result from drowning because victims are not wearing life jackets or the boat doesn’t have life jackets on board.
Collecting Information About the Boating Accident
After all passengers on the boat are safe and have received medical aid, the next step is gathering information about the boating accident from people on the other vessel and any eyewitnesses to the accident.
Information you should at the scene includes:
- The names, addresses, and phone numbers of all boat owners involved in the accident
- The names, addresses, and phone numbers of all passengers on all vessels involved in the accident
- The names and contact information of any eyewitnesses to the accident from other vessels or from shore
- The identification number or registration of all vessels involved in the accident
- Insurance information, such as policy numbers and insurance company names, of those involved in the accident
If possible, someone should take photos of the accident scene and the resulting damages. Photographed evidence should include the accident location, the position of the boat or boats, all visible damages, and all physical injuries to passengers and other people involved.
When everyone from the boating accident has been safely taken to shore, further medical attention is vital to protect the rights of injury victims. Within hours or days of being injured, all injury victims should see a licensed doctor for a thorough medical examination. Filing an injury claim with a Chicago boating accident attorney will require documented proof of injuries.
Reporting a Boating Accident
Following an Illinois boating accident, it is essential to notify a Conversation Police Officer, which is employed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. You should also report your accident to the Coast Guard. However, the Department of Natural Resources will also report your accident to the Coast Guard. If an accident results in personal injuries or deaths, failure to comply can result in a Class A misdemeanor.
State Reporting Requirements:
- When a person is injured or killed, a report must be filed within 48 hours of the incident
- When a person has been injured or has disappeared (indicating a possible drowning death), a report must be filed within 5 days of the incident
- When property damages exceed $2,000, a report must be filed within 5 days of the incident
- When there is the complete loss of a vessel, a report must be filed within 5 days of the incident
When providing a report to authorities, it is important to provide accurate information. If you believe that the accident was your fault or caused by the negligent actions of another boat operator, talking to a Chicago boating accident attorney who is fighting for victims of negligence is a good idea.
When determining who caused the boating accident, all facts and evidence must be taken into account. Injury claims must be well-documented to show proof. They must include the circumstances of the accident, who is at fault for the accident, medical records and treatments for injuries, and photos of injuries. Without documented evidence, injury claims are usually unsuccessful.
Following a boating accident, the accident should be reported to your insurance carrier if you owned or operated one of the vessels involved. The insurance provider should be notified as soon as possible following the accident, regardless of who is at fault for the accident. If the other boater was negligent, careless, or broke the rules in a way that led to the boating accident, a boating accident attorney can take legal action to recover compensation for damages.