Understanding What to Do in a Boating Accident

Lake, Cook and McHenry County Boating Accident Attorneys

Most of us will likely never encounter such a situation, but boating accidents present a number of unique challenges when it comes to insurance coverage, claims, and liability. In 2015, it is estimated that the number of boat owners and sales of boats, in particular powerboat sales, has increased by approximately 7-8%. In 2014 “the strongest sales came from new ski/wakeboard boats, pontoon boats, aluminum fishing boats, fiberglass runabouts and personal watercraft. Sales of larger cruising boats also started to see an uptick.”

So what do you do if you are involved in a boating accident for purposes of insurance coverage, filing a claim, and liability? Aside from insuring all occupants’ safety, security, and well-being, one of the first things is to document any and all boat licensing, title, and registration information. Most states require boats to have an actual registration number. In fact, in states such as Illinois, boating registration and licensing is done through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. There are some boats in Illinois that are exempt from such requirements such as sailboards and lifeboats, but otherwise you should check your individual State requirements.

Additionally, you should document and record the type of boats involved in the accident to the best of your ability, including year and model, and any other helpful details including the number of passengers, whether the occupants were wearing life-vests, and the type of damage, if any, sustained to either your boat craft or any others. The more details that you can document, the more effective you will be in determining insurance coverage, claims, and liability.

Another important aspect of boating accidents is that of insurance coverage. In Illinois, an individual can register and obtain a license for a boat without having insurance. In other words, it is not mandatory to have boating insurance in Illinois to operate a boat, but good common sense would dictate that it is always better from a liability perspective to have a minimum level of coverage. As such, it is important to determine whether the boats involved in a particular accident have coverage, and if so, to obtain as much information regarding the insurance carrier, the level of coverage, and contact information to file prospective claims. Issues regarding insurance coverage, claims, and liability, are generally determined based upon the information you are able to obtain at the scene of the accident, and become significantly more complicated the less information you are able to obtain. 

If you have been involved in a boat accident, you need a seasoned Illinois boat accident attorney on your side to help you evaluate and seek recovery for such issues. Boat accidents are by their very nature unique and can be complex with often serious property and personal injury related damages. Call or email the Newland Law firm today for a complimentary consultation to see how we can help you.

  • Newland & Newland LLP, Attorneys, Arlington Heights, IL
  • Lawyer.com