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Fatal Missouri Sightseeing Boat Accident Raises Liability Questions

Q: Is a boat operator liable for deaths resulting from noncompliance with boating regulations?

Missouri personal injury lawsuits come about in many ways. Very often they may be the result of a car, boat, or truck accident.

In addition to the standard rules for safely operating vehicles which automotive drivers must follow, most states have enacted extra safety regulations required of boat and truck operators and owners to reduce boat and truck accidents. Such rules may focus on drivers obtaining special licenses, owners performing routine maintenance and safety inspections, and drivers complying with hourly driving limits to avoid or reduce fatigue-related accidents, to name a few. So, meticulously-detailed inspections routinely follow trucking and boating accidents in an effort to determine potential liability.

A 2017 Missouri boat accident that killed 17 sightseers on a duck boat when a violent storm sunk the boat in Table Rock Lake is the subject of a Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation.

Reportedly, the duck boat was not permitted to operate in winds exceeding 35 mph and/or wave heights exceeding 2 feet. Apparently, video and audio from the doomed vessel indicated the lake was calm upon entry but “suddenly turned violent and within minutes the vessel sank” and that the winds exceeded 70 mph “just short of hurricane force” at the time it sank.

Weather forecasters allegedly warned of “an impending storm” with winds possibly exceeding 60 miles an hour. At the time the vessel sink, video from nearby witnesses reportedly showed waves “far greater than 2 feet high”.

The Marine Board of Investigation is expected to dig deep into such issues as:

  • the weather

  • regulatory compliance of the boat

  • crew member duties and qualifications

  • misconduct and intentional, negligent, or willful violation of law

  • adequate oversight by the Coast Guard and other governmental agencies.

When people are seriously injured as a result of the negligence, reckless, or intentional actions of another person or entity, they may be entitled to compensatory damages in a personal injury lawsuit. When the victims die from their injuries, there closest surviving relatives may be able to sue the responsible party or parties and a wrongful death lawsuit.

Compensatory damages in a wrongful death action differ on a case-by-case basis as does the determination of who has standing to sue for those damages. Generally, wrongful death damages will include the final burial and medical expenses of the victim and may include other damages including financial losses suffered by the relatives as a result of the victim’s death.

If you or a loved one has been injured or a loved one has been killed as a result of the actions of someone else, the personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at the Noland Law Firm can help maximize the compensation to which you may be entitled. While we can’t bring your loved one back, a lawsuit award or settlement may help relieve the financial burden of your loss so you can focus on healing. Contact us today for a free consultation.

From our offices in Liberty, Missouri, we represent injured victims and their families throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area and Western Missouri including Clay County, Liberty, Blue Springs, Independence, and Gladstone.