Summer is here, and Chicago locals and tourists alike are ready to get outside and enjoy the weather. One of Chicago’s major attractions is sightseeing boat tours. Boat tours are a booming industry, with tour companies like Wendella River Experience, Seadog Cruises, Mercury Cruises, Shoreline Cruises, and the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise. With the Chicago River and proximity to Lake Michigan, there’s plenty to do on the water.
However, because of the popularity of these waterways, they can often become crowded and put passengers at risk of being involved in a boat accident. Passengers injured in a tour boat accident may have a case against the tour boat operator for damages. Whenever a boat owner is negligent in their actions—or inactions—and causes a sightseeing boat accident, they can be held liable for any injuries or fatalities that result.
Boat tour operator responsibilities
The owner or operator of any boat or vessel is required by law to maintain a standard level of safety. This includes things like issuing a safety device for each passenger on board, or indicating to passengers where the safety gear is located on the boat. The boat owner is also responsible for maintaining the boat and making necessary and timely repairs.
The operator is also obligated to provide safe navigation as to avoid placing their passengers at risk. And, depending on the nature of the tour, all crew members must ensure passengers are equipped with proper safety gear, and that they themselves are fully trained on the use of all specialized equipment.
Speaking of crew members, anyone working on a tourist or sightseeing boat injured in an accident also has legal recourse. Not only is the owner/operator responsible for servicing and maintaining the vessel, but they’re also responsible for ensuring their crew works reasonable hours. This increases worker safety by minimizing fatigue, and in turn increases passenger safety.
Factors leading to boat accidents
Many different factors, or combination of factors, can lead to a boating accident:
- Improper operation
- Machinery failure
- Improper or negligent maintenance
- Manufacturing defect
- Reckless operation
- Inattentive or distracted driver
- Inexperienced driver
- Excessive speed
- Alcohol use
Operating a boat isn’t that much different than driving a car in regard to following the law. In the event of an accident, it’s a crime to leave the scene, fail to provide aid, and fail to report the accident in a timely manner. The boat operator must file a report if someone is injured and needs more than minor first aid, or if the accident results in a fatality. They must always file a report if the boat is damaged, or if an individual aboard disappears while on the water and the situation indicates injury or death.
Common injuries suffered during boat accidents include:
We want you to be safe out on the water this summer. If you have the unfortunate experience of being involved in an accident, the Chicago boat accident attorneys at Gainsberg Law are on your side. Get in touch with us today through our contact form, or by calling 312.313.1621 to schedule a consultation.