Many people in Illinois enjoyed a long holiday weekend earlier this month because Independence Day fell on a Thursday. As a result, they were able to take road trips, visit tourist attractions, and head to the lakes or rivers for as many as four days before returning to work. Some people even started their holiday weekends a bit early – but a few of them had to spend their vacation recovering in a hospital (even though fireworks had nothing to do with their injuries).
Such was the case after a boating accident on the Rock River in LaSalle County. On the morning of Tuesday, July 2 just before 8:30am, four Chicago residents were about a quarter mile downriver from Starved Rock State Park (a bit southeast of North Utica) when the driver reportedly turned to retrieve an item from a passenger. The boat, which was reportedly traveling about 30 mph, then veered to the right into a grove of trees and rocks on the bank of the river. The 81-year old male driver and his three passengers aged 51, 63, and 67 all had to be transported to a Peru hospital. The 67-year old man was later flown by helicopter to a Peoria hospital for additional treatment.
Based on the information from the news reports, it appears that the fault for the boating accident lies primarily or completely with the 81-year old man alone. Since all boat operators are legally responsible for the safety of their passengers in Illinois, the three passengers could elect to file personal injury lawsuits against the 81-year old. These suits could allow the plaintiffs to collect reimbursement for medical expenses incurred as a result of the crash, including ambulance charges, treatment costs, and even future physical therapy sessions if necessary. It’s even possible that a jury could award monetary damages to the plaintiffs for pain and suffering.