The Fourth of July may be over, but there’s still plenty of summer left to enjoy around Chicago. Many boaters will take advantage of the continued great weather by hitting the area’s lakes and rivers, including Lake Michigan. Still, with a rise in traffic on the waters comes an increase in the potential for boating mishaps. The U.S. Coast Guard, which issues an annual report on recreational boating accidents, revealed that there were 701 fatalities on our nation’s lakes, rivers, and oceans in 2016. That’s the highest number of deaths in the previous five years. Therefore, it’s wise to review some basic safety tips that will help you avoid a boating accident that can cause injury or – in severe incidents – even death.
Storms and foul weather can quickly develop over Chicago, especially on a vast body of water like Lake Michigan. Check the forecast as you’re planning to head out on the water, and watch the skies for forming clouds. If there are predictions of severe weather, it may be time to change your plans.
Don’t leave the dock without going through a checklist to review the boat’s safety features, systems, and inventory. You’re less likely to be without the necessities if you have a guide. It’s also smart to consider using a “float plan” to inform those on shore of your boating plans, in the event that they need to account for your whereabouts for search parties.
It’s illegal to operate a boat while intoxicated, but the dangers of drunk driving are also significant. Your abilities to anticipate and react to factors on the water are diminished just as they would be if you’re driving a car. Plus, there are additional concerns unique to boating: There aren’t seatbelts to secure the operator and passengers in the event of an impact, and you’re surrounded by water if tossed out of the boat.
Illinois law requires you to carry a PFD for every person. Younger passengers must wear them at all times, but certain individuals may legally go without a life jacket. Use your best judgment and exercise caution, even where a PFD isn’t required. In addition, if you encounter severe weather, everyone should don a life preserver.
Even if you follow these tips and exercise the highest degree of care on the water, boating accidents can still occur. If you’re injured as a result of another boater’s negligence, you may be able to seek compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other losses. However, the key to success in recovering a financial award is to work with a skilled personal injury lawyer with experience in these types of cases. The attorneys at Michael T. Friedman & Associates have been representing clients in Chicago and suburbs for decades, helping them recover the compensation they deserve under Illinois law. Please contact our offices today to schedule a free consultation or with questions about your matter.
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