Live Chat
Call Now: (312) 600-0000
Get a FREE Case Review
Leading Lawyers logo
Super Lawyers logo
American Association for Justice
WILG logo
Illinois Trial Lawyers Association logo
Avvo Rating logo
Workers' Compensation Lawyers Association logo

Negligence and fatal boat accidents

Written by Ankin Law Office

While car accidents and slip-fall injuries are commonly associated with negligence claims, there are many other situations which may also give rise to such litigation, as any Illinois boat accident attorney would attest. For example, the victims of boating accidents caused by speeding, alcohol abuse or improper vessel maintenance may have the right to bring a civil suit.

In a recent case reported by the Chicago Tribune, an Illinois boat service provider faces accusations of negligence in the wake of a fatal boat accident caused by electrical or mechanical issues. The mother of one of the boat crash victims has filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming that the service provider’s failure to repair and maintain the vessel caused her daughter’s death.

The plaintiffs’ burden in a negligence case

Plaintiffs in boat accident lawsuits must satisfy the basic requirements of a negligence claim. According to the Legal Information Institute’s definition of negligence, a plaintiff would do this by showing that:

  • The defendant owed a duty of care
  • The defendant failed to meet that duty
  • This breach of duty caused the plaintiff’s injuries
  • Actual injuries and loss resulted from the breach of duty

If the plaintiff can prove these things to the court then there is a strong chance the plaintiff will succeed in holding the defendant financially responsible.

The duty of care standard

The duty of care standard used in Illinois is one of ordinary care, as any Illinois boat accident attorney would note. The Illinois Courts’ Pattern Jury Instructions on Negligence and Ordinary Care explain that this standard requires defendants to be judged in comparison to the actions of a reasonably careful person under similar circumstances. There is no set description of reasonable or unreasonable behavior; jurors must use their own judgment to determine whether a defendant acted unreasonably enough to fail the legally required duty of care.

Because Illinois is a comparative negligence state, plaintiffs are also held to the standard of ordinary care. Under the Illinois Compiled Statutes, plaintiffs will be found negligent if their failure to use ordinary care in protecting their own safety caused some or all of their injuries. This can affect the overall judgment handed down in a negligence case.

The effect of comparative negligence

Plaintiffs who are found to have contributed to their injuries may face a dismissal of their cases or a reduction in their compensation. If a plaintiff’s negligence amounts to over 50 percent of the accident’s cause, then the defendants cannot be held liable. If a plaintiff’s negligence accounts for less than 50 percent of causation, the defendant’s liability will be proportionately reduced. For example, if a court determines that a plaintiff’s injuries warrant $100,000 in damages, but also that this plaintiff was 20 percent at fault, the defendant will be ordered to pay $80,000.

When the actions of a company, person or other legal entity cause a fatal boating accident in Illinois, it often leaves the relatives of the deceased facing emotional turmoil and financial problems. By pursuing a civil lawsuit, those who have lost a loved one in such situations may be able to hold these negligent parties accountable for the irreparable damage they caused. As such cases often require thorough investigations in order to establish fault, those interested in pursuing this option may benefit from consulting with an Illinois boat accident attorney as soon as possible.