Your Boat Capsizes But Remains Afloat, What Should You Do?

boat accident

Boating is a favorite pastime for many in the Chicago area, including on scenic Lake Michigan, Flatfoot Lake, Maple Lake, and others. However, there are many boating accidents in the state, including 21 boaters who died in boating accidents in 2020.

A common problem in boating injuries and deaths is the boat capsizing in bad weather or other reasons. This is a severe emergency. But if you keep your head and follow the advice below, the situation can be resolved safely. If you were injured in a recent boating accident, our Lake County personal injury lawyer at The Law Office of Robert T Edens can help today.

Why Do Boats Capsize?

Most capsizing cases involve small boats, about 10% being eight-foot crafts. Other standard capsized boats are 15 to 19 feet long, representing 40% of all cases. Many of these boats are for fishing and the cockpits are hard to drain, frequently on the water in bad weather, and carry too much gear.

Also, many boats capsize because of improper weight distribution. Boats in the 15 to 19-foot range are often the most susceptible to capsizing because of poor weight distribution. All it can take is one person too many on the boat to cause the boat to flip in rough water. Other common causes of capsizing boats are leaks and piloting the boat at an unsafe speed during turns.

How To Handle Your Boat Capsizing

The first step to dealing with your boat capsizing is to account for everyone on the vessel. If anyone is missing, they could be under the boat. If it is possible to get the boat upright again, but if it is impossible, get onto the hull and wait for help. Fortunately, most capsized boats do not sink, so staying out of the water can help you avoid cold water temperatures and the risk of drowning. Ensuring everyone in the boat has on their life jacket also reduces the risk of injury or loss of life.

Stay With Your Boat

Next, staying with your capsized boat and waiting for someone to help you is vital. Remember that seeing a capsized boat is much easier for others than a few people in the water. If the boat drifts away or goes under, try to find something to keep you afloat and visible while waiting for help.

Keep your head as far out of the water if you have nothing to hold onto. Put your arms across your chest and pull in your knees to save energy and reduce heat loss. You should not attempt to swim to shore or tread water; both actions use energy quickly and can lower your body temperature.

Contact Our Lake County Personal Injury Lawyer

If you were in a boat accident because of someone’s negligence, you have legal options and could be eligible for compensation in a claim or lawsuit. Contact our Lake County personal injury lawyer at The Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C. for assistance with your boat accident case at (847) 395-2200.

What Types Of Boats Are Most Susceptible To Capsizing?

capsizing boatsWhen you are out to sea, and your boat capsizes, there is nothing you can do but wait to be rescued. Capsizing boats are quite common, but you can prevent a deadly mistake if you know which type is likely to sink.

Types of Boats That Are Likely To Capsize

Small boats such as canoes, kayaks, and sailboats are more likely to capsize than heavy-bottomed boats. This is because the latter becomes unstable easily on the water since they have a weight limit. That doesn’t mean larger boats cannot capsize at all. To know that any boat can go under, you only have to see how the HMHS Britannic sank.

However, unlike a large boat that sinks quickly, a smaller capsizing boat usually remains afloat, so it provides survivors with a makeshift raft as they wait to be rescued. Kayaks and canoes can also be flipped right side up by a single person, and even a sailboat can be righted with several people.

In other words, while small boats are more likely to sink than larger ones, you have higher chances of surviving the former than the latter.

Why Weight Matters

Weight distribution and amount are responsible for capsizing boats more than anything else. Here are some ways how:

  • Older boats gain weight over the years as they store more gear or as the hull absorbs water.
  • Small boats can capsize easily even if you bring an extra person or a loaded cooler on board.
  • Cockpit drains can flood if the boat is overloaded, which in turn can make it capsize.

Most 20-feet boats need floatation and a capacity plate that shows the amount of weight they can carry without submerging. The boat will capsize even in calm waters if you exceed those limits. Operators will also ticket you for exceeding weight limits.

‘Underway seating positions’ determine safe passenger loads on small boats. For example, two slim adults who want to take five children on a boat designed to accommodate four people are playing with lives. Even if the total weight is lower than the boat’s capacity, anything can happen to tip the scales.

Weight distribution is also as important as the number of people on board. If several people rush to one side of the boat to see dolphins, for example, the boat will tip to that side and take on water. Capsizing will be imminent.

Contact Robert Edens for a Boating Accident Case

If you have been in a boating accident and suffered damages, you deserve compensation either from the at-fault party or the insurance company. Get in touch with boating accident watercraft lawyers at the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens for a consultation regarding your legal options today.

We have been representing boating accident victims such as you for the past 20 years and are proficient in personal injury cases. The other party and their insurance company are working to deny your claim as we speak. Don’t wait. Contact our team of professionals to protect your rights. We will ensure you get the money you deserve so you don’t have to pay for damages out of pocket.

How Common Are Serious Boating Accidents in Illinois?

boating accidentsWhile not as common as motor vehicle accidents, boating accidents have caused a number of serious injuries and fatalities in Illinois.

While the number has dropped from the astronomical statistics of the mid-1990s, these numbers are misleading since non-motorized boats are not considered in stats anymore. If you are involved in a boating accident and deserve compensation for damages, hire a Waukegan boating accident attorney straight away.

As per the Illinois Recreational Boating Report, there were 81 reportable boating accidents in 2020, a number which increased from 2019. 36 boat-related injuries were also reported in 2020 which decreased from the previous year. However, over 21 deaths were also reported, which was an increase from the fatalities reported in 2019.

Top Reasons for Boat Accidents and Injuries in Illinois

Some of the main reasons for boat accidents in Illinois include the following:

Treacherous Conditions

The water levels in the lakes and rivers in the state are expected to get quite high during the rainy season. Rising water levels hide docks, floating debris, and other conditions that can seriously compromise safety for boats and their passengers. Boat drivers can get into accidents that can prove fatal or cause serious injuries.

Alcohol Usage

Anyone who is drunk behind the wheel of any vehicle (whether on land or the sea) is bound to get into an accident. If caught, inebriated boat drivers can face DUI charges and in case they are involved in a serious accident while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they can also be held liable for injuries that result from their intoxicated state.

Operator Mistakes

Inexperienced boat drivers can get into collisions easily because of errors. These can be anything from traveling at excessive speeds to making dangerous maneuvers on the water.

Other common causes of boating accidents in Illinois include:

  • Onboard fire.
  • Bad weather conditions.
  • Restricted vision.
  • Lack of ventilation in the boat.
  • Improperly anchored boat.
  • Equipment failure due to lack of maintenance.
  • Machinery or hull failure.
  • Starting the boat in gear.
  • Loading the boat incorrectly or overloading the boat.
  • Insufficient navigation aids.

Contact A Waukegan Boating Accident Lawyer

A Waukegan boating accident attorney will tell you that the statute of limitations for filing boat accident personal injuries is two years tops. If you miss that deadline, your case will be thrown out and you will have to pay for your damages and injuries out of pocket.

If you or someone you love has been involved in a serious boat accident and the boat driver is refusing to pay for damages, you need to get in touch with the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C. We have over 20 years of experience recovering millions of dollars for clients and can help you get the compensation you deserve as well. Robert, aka Bob, has been recognized as the top lawyer in Illinois. He, along with his staff understand the physical and mental toll injuries can cause and can understand your case from your perspective.