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Many tragic boating accidents are preventable

On Behalf of | Mar 26, 2024 | Boat Accidents

As we enter time of year when Missourians and visiting tourists are going to be taking to the water, it’s important to know that those who own and operate watercraft are required to take certain steps to keep their passengers safe. That’s true whether a vessel is someone’s private boat or any kind of commercial boat.

It’s been six years since 17 people (many of whom were part of the same family) died when the duck boat they were on sank in a lake near Branson. This wasn’t the first time that passengers had been killed in one of these retrofitted World War II-era vessels despite warnings by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). There have been 40 such tragedies in the last 25 years.

Although just 16 of these older boats remain in service, the U.S. Coast Guard has issued new safety requirements for them, including a requirement that all passengers wear personal floatation devices.

Those in charge of a boat can face serious criminal charges

Accidents like this are so egregious that they often warrant serious criminal charges in addition to civil lawsuits. In the duck boat case (where there were over 30 lawsuits), the captain and two managers of the company that owned it were charged with multiple felonies, including manslaughter.

Another tragic boating accident occurred the following year off the coast of California under very different circumstances. A dive boat caught fire, killing 34 people (33 passengers and a crew member) who were trapped onboard. The boat’s captain and other crew members escaped the boat, leaving the others to die. A number of safety violations were found. Further, the captain was convicted of what’s often referred to as “seaman’s manslaughter.”

What both of these tragedies and others have in common is that they didn’t have to happen. Many injuries and deaths are preventable when those responsible for a boat follow all required laws and safety protocols and ensure that their passengers comply with them. Sometimes, it’s as easy as not drinking while operating a boat and making sure there are enough properly fitting life vests on board.

If you or a loved one has been injured or worse as the result of a boating accident, it’s crucial to explore your legal options for seeking justice, accountability and compensation. Seeking personalized legal guidance is a good way to get started.