Who is to blame for the tragic duck boat accident that killed 17?
On July 19, a group of tourists set out on a duck boat tour, a popular amphibious vessel that can go from land to water. The duck boat hit the water in Table Rock Lake, located in Branson, Missouri. Passengers included six people from New Mexico. At the time that the boat entered the water, the region was under a severe thunderstorm warning. Tragically, about a half hour into the boat ride, a gusty squall caused the boat to capsize. Only 14 people survived the incident, with 17 dying. Fortunately, the six New Mexicans all survived, though one was seriously injured. Our New Mexico personal injury lawyers discuss the cause of the duck boat accident and liability issues surrounding it below.
Examining the Cause of the Duck Boat Accident
There are several potential factors that could have caused the fateful duck boat accident. For starters, the Coast Guard has revealed that the duck boat was not permitted on the water with winds of over 35 miles per hour. The National Transportation Safety Board has found that a severe thunderstorm warning was issued about the same time that the duck boat left the terminal. Shortly after, winds picked up, but the boat continued on.
Even still, it remains at issue as to whether it was just the weather that sank the duck boat. There have been some reports suggesting that the duck boat was improperly designed. The duck boat had the exhaust in the front, which according to some made it at risk for engine failure.
Additionally, the loss of lives due to the accident could have been far less had the passengers been wearing life jackets. Though the duck boat was equipped with life vests, passengers were allegedly told there was no need to wear them. Even further, the duck boat canopy trapped many of the passengers aboard. In 2002, the NTSB recommended that all duck boat canopies be removed, yet this one remained.
Lawsuit Filed Against Duck Boat Operator
At least two family members of those killed in the duck boat accident have filed a wrongful death lawsuit seeking $100 million in damages from the duck boat operator. It is anticipated that more wrongful death and personal injury claims will follow.
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