According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), approximately 312,500 boats were registered in Illinois in Fiscal Year 2012. That same year, 19 people died in boating accidents. All 19 fatalities occurred on boats where the operator had not received boating safety information.
The IDNR offers free boating safety courses for Illinois residents, but the state does not require them. The lack of safety training for operators and passengers alike can turn a nice day on the water into a tragedy.
If you have been injured or if a loved one has been injured or killed in a boating accident, contact Illinois boating accident lawyer Christopher Dixon for a FREE consultation. Our staff is available 24/7 to take your call at 855-40-CRASH.
Illinois Boating Accident Statistics
The IDNR Recreational Boating Report compiles statistics on all Illinois boating accidents during a fiscal year. In 2012:
- Illinois had 110 reportable accidents, including 69 injuries and 19 deaths.
- 10 out of the 19 deaths involved alcohol and/or drug impairment.
- Most of the fatalities involved falls overboard.
- 14 out of 19 fatalities might have been prevented if personal flotation devices (PFDs) would have been used.
- 209 Operating Under the Influence (OUI) arrests were made.
- 1,230 citations and 3,972 written warnings were issued to operators or passengers. The most common citation was for not wearing a PFD (322), followed by Operating Under the Influence (210)
- The majority of accidents occurred in June and July, on Saturday or Sunday, between the hours of noon and 6 p.m., with good visibility, light winds, and calm water.
- Most accidents involved operators between the ages of 20 and 40 and most occur due to cruising in a careless manner, which results in a collision with another boat.
Illinois Boater Rules and Regulations
As of January 1, 2015, Illinois enacted three new boating laws in order to curb boating deaths due to risky behavior:
- Illinois Senate Bill 3434 allows for the seizure of watercraft used during the commission of offenses related to Operating Under the Influence. This bill brings OUI penalties more in line with those for DWI and DUI.
- Illinois Senate Bill 3433 requires all individuals born after January 1, 1998 to take and pass a boating safety course validated by the IDNR. Safety certificates must be held in order to operate a boat over 10 horsepower.
- Illinois Senate Bill 2731 requires boats with skiers or tubers to display a bright orange flag no less than 12 inches per side. The flag must be displayed until all skiers or tubers have returned to the boat.
Other Illinois boating laws include having a PFD for each passenger available on the boat; all passengers under the age of 13 must wear a PFD unless they are below deck; and registering all boats, with a few exceptions.
Illinois does not require a special boating license to operate a boat. Illinois also does not require boating insurance; however, if ever in a collision, boating insurance will protect you and your loved ones.
Popular Illinois Lakes and Rivers
There are numerous lakes and rivers in Illinois, which makes boating a popular activity. Five of the most popular lakes include:
- Lake Carlyle – The largest lake within Illinois’ borders
- Rend Lake – 19,000-acre man-made lake in southern Illinois
- Lake Shelbyville – Third largest inland lake
- Horseshoe Lake – Illinois’ largest natural lake within Illinois borders
- Lake Michigan – Illinois’ largest lake, shared with three other states
As common sense would dictate, the more popular a lake becomes, the more likely boating accidents will occur.
Boating Safety and Accident Prevention
As indicated in the IDNR statistics, most boating accidents occur during good weather and good water conditions, which makes boat operators and passengers responsible for nearly all injuries. To prevent boating accidents:
- Wear a life jacket. This is the most important factor in surviving boating accidents, whether it is a boat collision, or simply falling into the water.
- Do not operate a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Make sure there are enough life jackets on the boat for all passengers.
- Do not operate a boat during bad weather.
- Ensure the boat has been properly maintained.
- Do not allow children under the age of 12 to operate a boat.
- Ensure operators aged 12 to 18 years old have a safety certificate.
Illinois Boating Accident Lawsuits and Injury Claims
Boating accidents can be very similar to car or truck accidents. Since most crashes occur due to operator negligence, you will have to fight insurance companies to be compensated for your harms and losses. In 2012, Illinois boating injuries reported included lacerations, contusions, broken bones, and amputations. Many injury victims had to be rushed to the hospital. In more serious injuries, medical bills increase and time off work increases, and both cut into your pocketbook. Those families that experience a death due to boat operator negligence have to pay for funeral expenses.
A qualified Illinois boating accident attorney will help investigate your claim and ensure that all evidence is preserved. Witnesses will need to be interviewed, medical records and bills will need to be gathered, and state laws will need to be researched.
Negligent boat operators should be held accountable for their actions. The injuries caused by negligence completely disrupt the normal routine of the victim.
Boating injury lawyer Christopher Dixon has earned entry as a Lifetime Member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, named a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers Association, and named a Super Lawyer Rising Star. Call 855-40-CRASH today for a FREE boating accident consultation. Our staff is on hand 24/7.