It is the dog days of summer here in Chicagoland. As a result of temps pushing 90 degrees these days, more and more people are heading towards the water for a good time. Sadly, what many folks fail to appreciate is that there are dangers on the water, especially when powerboats, ranging from PWCs to large vessels, are involved. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, in 2012 there were over 1,000 accidents that involved a collision with a recreational vessel -- resulting in 47 deaths. In addition, of the 459 drowning deaths on the water last year, 379 involved people who were not wearing a life jacket. Finally, the top two "contributing factors" to accidents: operator inattention and operator inexperience. A copy of the Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics for 2012 can be found here. The common sense that you exercise on the road to prevent accidents and injuries does not cease to exist when you are on the water. In fact, due to the lack of painted lines on the "roads" of water, and the risk of drowning that is not present on the streets, one needs to be that much more cautious when at play on a navigable waterway. If someone asked you if you would let your 14 year old child take a 175 horsepower racing motorcycle out on the highway you would most likely say "of course not." But, people do the same thing all the time when they put a high powered PWC in the hands of a teenager and send them out on the lake on their own. Hopefully, you would never think of having an open cooler of beer in your car and be tossing cans around as you drove around in the winter -- yet people do it all the time in the summer when out on a boat. These are things that need to change. Just because powerboats, lakes, and good times all go hand in hand, that does not mean that a serious injury cannot follow. With the vast amount of waterways in the Chicagoland area, people need to protect themselves, and others, from personal injuries when out enjoying the great resources available in the area. The most basic steps to take to avoid being a personal injury victim: be aware and wear a life jacket. If you are injured in a boating accident, a personal injury attorney is your best resource to know what your rights are. Hopefully, you will never need to consult a personal injury attorney, because you will take the simple steps necessary to try and prevent a boating accident in the first place. But, if the unthinkable should happen, and you are injured, contact a knowledgeable personal injury attorney at once.
After a fairly dreary spring here in Chicagoland, the weather has turned, and we can all enjoy the outdoors. For many people this also means it is time to dust of the motorcycles and head out for a bike ride. Whether you choose to ride a motorcycle or not, if you are on the roads you need to be aware that motorcycles are out there. Many motorcycle accidents that occur are the result of operators of cars not seeing a bike on the road. Hence the slogan, "Start Seeing Motorcycles" which has become popular. The negligence of other motorists causes numerous crashes which cause motorcycle injuries. Motorcyclists need to do their part too, not only keeping a lookout for the very motorists who do not see them, but also making it easy to been seen by others. As taught in many basic rider courses, motorcyclists should shy away from all black outfits, dark riding gear, and even dark colored bikes. Retro-reflective accents, bright jackets, and easy to see helmets can all literally save your life on a motorcycle as they can help make you visible to another driver on the road who otherwise might not see you. But, while it is very difficult to prevent the negligence of another driver on the road, there is one thing that every motorcycle rider can do to help prevent serious personal injury while riding a bike: wear a helmet. While Illinois does not require helmets (nor do 30 other states, when it comes to adult riders) wearing a proper fitting helmet is the single best step you can take with your gear to save your life if a motorcycle accident should occur. Personal injury attorneys encounter motorcycle accidents all the time, and one of the first questions an injury attorney will ask a rider involved in a motorcycle crash is: "were you wearing a helmet?" Sadly, if the victim is unable to answer due to catastrophic injury, or death, the attorney usually already knows the answer. Be safe on the roads, and be mindful of motorcycles, whether you ride or not. If you do ride a motorcycle, and are injured in a crash, contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible so you can be informed about what your rights are, and how to handle any claims you may have. For all you riders out there, enjoy the riding season, and safe travels.