How Life Vests Affect Your Boating Accident Claim
A recent accident on Rend Lake
brought up the importance of wearing life vests when enjoying a trip on a boat. This is important not just for the obvious safety concerns, but because of the effect life vests can have on your potential boating lawsuit
Illinois Laws Regarding Boats
requires at least one personal flotation device (life vest) for each person on board a boat. The life vests must be U.S. Coast Guard approved offshore, near shore, or type-III flotation aids. Children under the age of 13 are required to wear the life vest on boats under 26 feet in length when the boat is under way. For personal watercraft, like a jet ski, passengers must be wearing an approved life vest. Not only are life vests required but they must be in good condition, easily accessible, and the proper size for the intended wearer.
How does this affect your boating accident lawsuit? Again, outside of the safety concern and the high probability the life vest will greatly limit the personal injury you may suffer in a boating accident (especially in cold weather), the presence and use of a vest will affect the amount of compensation you receive in a case. This is because Illinois has adopted modified comparative negligence state as the standard for recovery in civil liability cases.
Under 735 ILCS 5/2-1116
, an injured party may only recover damages if he or she is less than 50 percent at fault for injuries. This means if the accident is 80 percent your fault, you cannot recover any damages, but if you are only 35 percent at fault, you can be compensated for your injuries. However—and this is where life vest come into play—the amount of damages you may recover can still be reduced by how much you are at fault. For example, if you can recover $100,000 and are 35 percent at fault, your reward will be reduced by $35,000. Not having an approved life vest that is being properly used or is easily accessible is one way in which fault for your injuries may be placed on you. The percentage of which your recovery would be reduced depends on the circumstances of the accident.
Wearing a life vest or having the proper number of them on your boat is an easy enough way to improve boat safety and limit any comparative negligence claims by a defendant. The end result is that you are safer and your accident recovery is not limited by your "comparative negligence." This rule applies not just to boating accidents but any type of negligence claim, which includes most personal injury lawsuits.
Reach Out to an Attorney for Help
If you are in an accident, contact one of our experienced DuPage County personal injury attorneys
. Our attorneys have over one hundred years of experience assisting clients with all types of types of boat accident or other personal injury claims. Contact us today if you need representation due to an accident. The attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC can help you today.