In what has been described as a horrific scene, the driver of a speedboat struck and killed a 10 year-old child on the Chain O’ Lakes last summer. According to a Chicago Tribune article, the fifth grade boy had been riding on an inner tube that was being pulled by a pontoon boat driven by his father. The child’s three siblings were also on the boat. At some point, the young boy fell off the tube, and as he was floating in the lake, waiting to be picked up by his dad and siblings, the driver of the speedboat failed to see him and ran over the child, killing him instantly.
Many boating accidents are due to the fault of the driver, and innocent victims and their families may be entitled to recover damages for their pain and suffering, among other damages. It is important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident occurs.
Boating accidents are fairly common in areas where there are lakes and other large bodies of water. Here in Illinois, there are many opportunities to travel by boat on either Lake Michigan or other various small lakes. Some causes of boating accidents include driver inexperience or error, DUI, unfavorable weather or water conditions, or equipment failure. In this case, the driver was found to have cocaine in his system and his blood alcohol level was over the legal limit.
It was reported that during the plea hearing, the driver sat quietly, only speaking to acknowledge that he understood the plea arrangement of aggravated DUI. At his upcoming sentencing in June, the driver will face up to 14 years in prison for killing the young child. He is fortunate that in exchange for the plea, the charge of reckless homicide was dropped.
The United States Coast Guard (USCG) reported that in 2011, there were 4,588 recreational boating accidents, involving 758 deaths, 3,081 injuries, and causing approximately $52 million in property damage. A disturbing statistic indicates that the use of alcohol was the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. The data lists alcohol use as the leading factor in 16% of the deaths. In Illinois, there were 18 boating accidents in 2011, nine deaths and 13 reported injuries. Nationwide, the injuries reported and compiled include amputation, broken bones, burns, concussions, electric shock, lacerations, scrapes, bruises, hypothermia, and dislocation, among many others.
When someone is injured or dies as a result of a boating accident, the person or family may be entitled to economic damages, such as lost wages, medical expenses, as well as damages for their emotional pain and suffering. In this case, the father witnessed something truly horrific, something from which no parent can ever fully recover. Each boating accident will vary in degree of injury and emotional pain and suffering, depending on the circumstances. It is important to contact an experienced boating accident attorney who can perform the necessary investigation to determine the extent of one’s rights to recovery.