In recent years, the number of recreational boaters on Missouri’s pristine lakes and rivers has been increasing. While this is good news for tourism, it also means more accidents and injuries out on the water. The unfortunate truth is that many people are just not as careful piloting a boat as they might be driving their car or truck, even though the results of a boating accident can be just as disastrous.
If you are the victim of a boater’s negligence, the personal injury attorneys at Layton & Southard can help. We have years of experience handling Missouri personal injury cases and navigating the complicated claims process.
Common Causes of Boating Accidents in Missouri
Boats are large, powerful machines, but many boaters see them as having less destructive potential than a car or motorcycle. And because there are far fewer law enforcement officers out on the water, drivers and passengers on boats are more likely to engage in risky behavior, such as drinking. The following are some of the major causes of accidents on the water:
- Lack of experience and training. While commercial boat pilots are licensed and regulated, many pleasure boaters simply buy a boat, put it in the water, and operate it without training or licensing. They might not know maritime laws regarding no-wake zones, yielding right-of-way, or idle-speed-only restrictions. The results are reckless operation, speeding, and failure to adjust to weather conditions, all of which can lead to capsizing or collisions with other vessels, jet skis, docks, or even swimmers.
- Lack of safety training and equipment. Many pleasure boaters have never taken a boating safety class and don’t know what to do if someone is injured far from shore. Not all boats are properly equipped with life jackets or flotation devices that can save lives in the event of an accident.
- Distracted operation. Unlike driving a car, pleasure boating is often viewed as a social activity. Passengers, as well as the operator, might be drinking, eating, talking, taking in the scenery, and having a good time. Distracted boating can lead to collisions with other vessels, docks, or objects in the water, as well as swimming and skiing accidents.
- Impaired boating. An impaired boat operator cannot judge distance well, react quickly, or make rational decisions in a crisis. Operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs is the number-one cause of pleasure boat accidents.
- Mechanical defects. The owner of a boat is responsible for its mechanical condition. We will investigate to find out if your accident was caused by a failure to perform required maintenance, faulty repair work by a boat mechanic, or a defective part produced by a negligent parts manufacturer. Even if the operator was unaware of the defect, you might still have a claim for negligence.
You May Be Left With Serious Injuries After a Watercraft Accident in Missouri
Much like car owners, watercraft operators have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their passengers and those in nearby boats. Traveling at unsafe speeds, piloting under the influence of drugs or alcohol, failing to maintain the boat in good operational condition, and improper navigation are all examples of negligent behavior that can lead to serious boating accidents, including:
- Striking another vessel or an object in the water
- Falling overboard
- Fires and explosions
- Skier or swimmer mishaps
- Propeller or engine-related accidents
The injuries suffered in these accidents can be serious—or even catastrophic—and may include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Back, neck, and spinal injuries
- Broken bones
- Internal organ damage
Why You Need a Boat Accident Attorney
If you’ve been injured in a boat accident in Missouri, it is important to understand your rights under the law so that you may seek just compensation for your injuries. You would be well advised to consult with our experienced legal team if:
- The negligent boater’s insurance company disputes your claim or offers you an inadequate settlement.
- You’ve suffered serious injuries or disability due to a boat operator’s negligence.
- You’ve been injured in a collision with a commercial vessel, in which case there could be multiple defendants and insurance carriers to deal with.
- Someone has died as a result of the accident.
- The at-fault boater is uninsured or underinsured.
Have You Been Injured in a Boating Accident in Missouri?
If you've been injured in a boat accident, you need to speak with an experienced boat accident attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Cape Girardeau office directly at 573.335.3359 to schedule your initial consultation.