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All You Need to Know about Boat Accidents

 Posted on September 14, 2023 in Uncategorized


Allowing you to enjoy the sunshine and open waters, boating has a special place in the heart of every relaxation enthusiast and adventure-seeker. However, like riding a car or motorcycle, boating comes with its own risks. According to a report by the United States Coast Guard, boat accidents in 2022 accounted for 636 fatalities, injuries of 2,222 people, and property damage worth $63 million. If you or someone you know is a victim of a boat accident, there are legal steps that you can take to be compensated for the loss. Keep reading to learn more.

Causes of Boat Accidents

Boat accidents can occur due to a variety of factors, often stemming from a combination of human error, environmental conditions, and technical issues. Some common causes include:

1. Operator Inexperience or Negligence: Inadequate training, lack of familiarity with navigational rules, and poor decision-making can lead to accidents. Operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a major factor in many incidents.

2. Speeding: Excessive speed can reduce a boater's reaction time, making it difficult to avoid collisions or obstacles in the water.

3. Weather Conditions: Adverse weather conditions such as heavy rain, fog, strong winds, and rough waters can impair visibility and control, increasing the risk of accidents.

4. Equipment Failure: Malfunctioning engines, steering systems, and navigation equipment can cause accidents.

5. Distracted Boating: Similar to distracted driving, distractions like texting, talking on the phone, or attending to passengers can divert a boater's attention.

6. Violation of Navigation Rules: Failure to follow established rules of the waterway, such as right-of-way regulations, can result in collisions.

7. Lack of Maintenance: Poorly maintained boats are more prone to mechanical failures, which can lead to accidents.

Types of Boat Accidents

Boat accidents can vary in nature, ranging from catastrophic to minor collisions. Refer to the table below to learn about the different types of boat accidents:

Type of Boat Accident

What Does It Mean?


Collide with other boats, docks, piers, stationary objects, or swimmers.


This can be a result of leaks, hull damage, or improper bilge maintenance.


Running aground on underwater hazards, sandbars, or shallow waters can cause significant damage to the vessel.

Swamping and Capsizing

A boat can capsize due to rough waters, overcrowding, or sudden shifts in weight distribution. Swamping occurs when water enters the boat, often leading to instability.

Explosion or Fire

Fuel leaks, electrical malfunctions, or improper storage of flammable materials can lead to fires and explosions on boats.

Watercraft Accident

Jet skis and other personal watercraft can be involved in accidents due to reckless driving and lack of awareness of other boaters.


Who Is at Fault?

When it comes to boat accidents, determining the party at fault can be a challenging task. Listed below are some of the common culprits of a boat accident:

● Operator of Your Boat: The captain of your boat behaved negligently.

● Operator of the Other Boat: The accident was due to the negligence or fault of the other boat’s operator.

● Government or the Authorities: The waterway authority failed to prioritize boaters’ safety.

● Boat Manufacturer: The boat had an underlying mechanical, electrical, or structural issue.

What Are My Legal Options?

A boat accident can cause many injuries, including fractures, brain injury, spinal cord injury, whiplash, burns, soft tissue damage, traumatic amputations, and PTSD. Taking the right legal steps following a boat accident is integral in getting you the deserved compensation. Before discussing the legal steps, know that the party at fault is responsible for compensating you for all the medical bills (past and future), emotional suffering, pain, missed work days, and for the wrongful death of someone you loved. The legal options you have are given below:

● The Boat’s Insurance Company Will Pay for the Damages

If the accidental boat is insured, the insurance company will be responsible for repairing and replacing everything and paying for the injuries of everyone involved in the accident. Having boat insurance works as a lifesaver if you are at fault.

● The At-Fault Party Will Pay

Whether you were enjoying or driving a boat and another boater caused the accident, or you were a guest and the negligence of the vessel’s captain resulted in the crash, in both cases, you can file for a lawsuit against the responsible boater. The at-fault party should fully compensate you for the pain, emotional distress, lost wages, and medical bills.

● The Boat Manufacturer Will Pay

If the reason for the accident was a flaw in the boat, then you can file a product liability claim. It is important to note that in this scenario, it is not necessary to prove the manufacturer’s negligence. Instead, the focus should be on establishing that the boat was utilized as intended and you were injured during its operation due to an inherent problem with the vessel.

● The Government Will Pay

In the event that a dangerous situation on waterways created by the government’s negligence was the cause of the mishap, you have every right to pursue a legal claim against the accountable agency. It is essential to note that distinct regulations govern the process of litigating against government entities. Therefore, it is strongly advised to seek the guidance of legal counsel when faced with such circumstances.

● The Employer Will Pay

Did the boat accident happen while you were on your job? If yes, it is your right to get a worker’s compensation claim. Your employer will pay for the injury, missed workdays, and other damages.

Get Justice with Newland & Newland, LLP!

In the aftermath of a boat accident, having a skilled legal team on your side can make all the difference. Newland & Newland, LLP is a leading law firm with a proven track record in handling maritime cases. Our team of experienced attorneys specializes in representing victims of boat accidents, ensuring that their rights are protected and that they receive the financial award they deserve. Our services include:

● Thorough Investigation: We delve deep into the circumstances of the accident, gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and reconstructing the events to establish liability.

● Expert Testimony: We work with maritime experts, accident reconstruction specialists, and medical professionals to strengthen your case.

● Negotiation and Litigation: Our skilled negotiators aim to secure a fair settlement, but we are prepared to take your case to court if necessary to achieve justice.

Have you been in a boat accident in Arlington Heights, Crystal Lake, Joliet, Chicago, Libertyville, or Itasca? Remember, in times of distress, Newland & Newland, LLP is here to help you navigate the waters and fight for the justice you deserve. Give us a call today!

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