Law Blog

subscribe to RSS feeds

« back to all blogs

Boating Accidents


Boating is a popular activity when the warmer weather begins. Illinois and Chicago residents have easy access to Lake Michigan, where recreational boating is very common. Recreational boating is a leisure activity that consists of using a boat for activities such as fishing, water skiing, or travel. This includes sailboats, powerboats, or man-powered vessels, such as rowing and paddle boats.

Unfortunately, boating accidents are very common. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, in 2019, the most recent year the accident statistics were released by them, there were 4,168 accidents as a result of recreational boating activities. This includes 613 deaths, 2,559 injuries, and approximately $55 million in property damage. July had the largest number of non-fatal and fatal accidents, with 892 non-fatal accidents and 110 fatal accidents.

Causes of Recreational Boating Accidents

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, in 2019, alcohol use was the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. In Illinois, between 2015-2019, with alcohol use as a contributing factor, there were forty-two (42) boating accidents, twenty-one (21) deaths from a boating accident, and twenty-one (21) injuries from a boating accident. In general, the top ten contributing factors to boating accidents include: 
  1. Operator inattention
  2. Improper lookout
  3. Operator inexperience
  4. Excessive speed
  5. Alcohol use
  6. Machinery failure
  7. Navigation rules violation
  8. Weather 
  9. Hazardous waters
  10. Force of wave/wake
The top five primary accident types include: 
  1. Collision with recreational vessel
  2. Collision with fixed object
  3. Grounding
  4. Flooding/swamping
  5. Falls overboard
If you have been in a boating accident where any of these factors were the cause, or where any of these accident types occurred, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries. These ten (10) contributing factors and five (5) accident types are not the only types of boating accidents, so it is important to contact a personal injury attorney to find out more information.

Alcohol and Drug Use

In Illinois, driving a boat under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is prohibited. A person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any vehicle within this State while: under the influence of alcohol; under the influence of any intoxicating compound or combination of intoxicating compounds to a degree that renders the person incapable of driving safely; under the influence of any other drug or combination of drugs to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely driving; under the combined influence of alcohol, other drug or drugs, or intoxicating compound or compounds to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely driving. 625 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. 5/11-501.

Alcohol and drug use while driving a boat can cause extreme damage and injury to the driver themselves, the passengers aboard the boat, people surrounding the boat, and property around the boat. These injuries can be detrimental and sometimes even permanent, causing death and/or permanent injury to the victim.

What Should I Do if I am Involved in a Boating Accident?

The first step you should take after being injured in a boating accident is to seek medical care. It is important to receive medical treatment to determine the severity of your injuries. Once you are safe and have received the proper medical treatment, you should contact a personal injury attorney. A qualified personal injury attorney will work with you to determine if you should take legal action to receive financial compensation for your injuries.

The personal injury attorneys at Sherwood Law Group have significant experience in all types of personal injury matters, including motor vehicle accidents and boating accidents. If you or someone you know has been injured in a boating accident, we at Sherwood Law Group may be able to help you. Our experienced personal injury attorneys will thoroughly evaluate your case and get you the compensation that you rightfully deserve for your injuries. All consultations are absolutely free. Contact Sherwood Law Group at 312.627.1650 or
Categories: personal injury