The Missouri duck boat operator that was involved in the July 19 accident that left 17 dead is being sued for wrongful death. The lawsuit is seeking $100 million in damages for two of the families of the victims. Other families are expected to join the suit.
The accident occurred on the amphibious vessel named Ride the Ducks Branson. After the boat left the shore of Table Rock Lake with 31 passengers, a sudden severe thunderstorm caused high winds and waves that caused the boat to capsize and then sink. The lawsuit alleges that the duck boat operator is responsible for the deaths that resulted when the boat sank due to the boat’s canopy. Experts claim that the canopy of the boat entrapped the passengers and dragged them to the bottom of the lake when the boat began to sink, which caused them to drown.
In 2002, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that all canopies on duck boats be removed for the safety of the passengers. The recommendation was issued after a 1999 duck boat accident in Arkansas left 19 passengers dead. There are an estimated 100-200 duck boats that operate across the United States. Between 1999 and 2018, 42 people have died on water and land as a result of duck boats.
Wrongful death lawsuits in Missouri can be filed by direct family members. Damages for wrongful death may cover funeral expenses, pain and suffering and loss of income as a result of the death. However, negligence must be proven in order for a lawsuit to be successful. In the Ride the Ducks Branson case, the boat operators may have acted negligently by not removing the boat canopy when instructed to do so. A lawyer might be able to prove that this negligent act resulted in the passengers’ deaths.