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Understanding Duck Boat Accidents: Dangers, Insight, and Lawsuits

Duck boats, also known as amphibious vehicles, have been popular tourist attractions for decades, offering scenic tours on both land and water. However, duck boat accidents have resulted in numerous fatalities and injuries over the years, raising concerns about the safety of these vehicles. In this blog post, we will provide an overview of the dangers associated with duck boat accidents, insight into the causes of these accidents, and information about the legal options available for those affected by a duck boat accident.


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The History of Duck Boats


Duck boats, also known as amphibious vehicles, have been around for over 80 years. The first duck boats were developed during World War II, when the United States military needed a vehicle that could navigate both on land and in water. These early duck boats were used to transport troops and supplies to and from ships, and were also used for reconnaissance missions and rescuing downed pilots. After the war, the military surplus duck boats were sold to the public and converted for use as tourist vehicles.


The popularity of duck boat tours as a tourist attraction began in the 1940s and 1950s, with companies offering scenic tours on both land and water. The boats were often used to tour historic sites and landmarks, such as the Boston Tea Party Museum and the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor. Duck boat tours quickly became a popular way for tourists to see and experience different cities and landmarks in an unique way.


Over the years, the design and technology of duck boats have evolved, but the basic concept of an amphibious vehicle has remained the same. However, despite their popularity, duck boats have been involved in several high-profile accidents, which have raised concerns about the safety of these vehicles. In recent years, several cities have banned or limited the operation of duck boats, while others have implemented new regulations to improve safety. Despite this, duck boat tours remain popular among tourists, offering a unique and exciting way to explore different cities.


How Many People Have Died On Duck Boats?


At least 40 deaths have resulted from duck boat accidents in the United States since 1999. These accidents have occurred due to a variety of factors, including capsizing, sinking, and collisions. The incidents have prompted concerns about the safety of duck boats and calls for stricter regulations and safety measures. Duck boats are not as stable as traditional boats and can easily tip over in rough water or high winds, which can put passengers at risk. Additionally, duck boats often lack adequate safety features such as seat belts, roll-over protection, and emergency exits, which can also put passengers at risk in the event of an accident. As a result of these concerns, some cities have banned or limited the operation of duck boats, while others have implemented new regulations to improve safety. It is important to consider the safety risks associated with duck boats before deciding to take a tour on one.


Dangers of Duck Boat Accidents


One of the main dangers associated with duck boat accidents is the risk of capsizing or sinking. Duck boats are not as stable as traditional boats and can easily tip over in rough water or high winds. Additionally, duck boats often lack adequate safety features such as seat belts, roll-over protection, and emergency exits. This can lead to serious injuries or death in the event of an accident.


Causes of Duck Boat Accidents


Duck boat accidents can be caused by a variety of factors, including the following:


Design defects


This refers to a problem with the design of the duck boat that makes it unsafe to use. For example, if the boat is not properly sealed, it can easily take on water and sink. Additionally, if the boat lacks adequate safety features such as seat belts, roll-over protection, and emergency exits, passengers may be at risk of serious injury or death in the event of an accident.


Manufacturing defects


The way the boat was manufactured makes it unsafe to use. For example, if the boat's hull is not properly sealed, it can easily take on water and sink. Additionally, if the boat's propulsion system is not properly maintained, it can fail, resulting in an accident.


Maintenance issues


The way the boat is maintained can make it unsafe to use. For example, if the boat's propulsion system is not properly maintained, it can fail, resulting in an accident. Additionally, if the boat's safety features are not properly inspected and maintained, passengers may be at risk of serious injury or death in the event of an accident.


Operator error


Mistakes made by the boat's operator that contribute to an accident. For example, if the operator is not properly trained or is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may make mistakes that lead to an accident. Additionally, if the operator fails to follow safety protocols, they may put passengers at risk.


Inclement weather conditions


Conditions such as high winds, heavy rain, or storms that can cause a duck boat to capsize or sink. Duck boats are not as stable as traditional boats and can easily tip over in rough water or high winds.


Overcrowding


This refers to when the boat is carrying more passengers than it can safely carry, which can cause the boat to capsize or sink. Additionally, if the boat is not properly loaded, the weight distribution may be off, which can cause the boat to tip over.


Common Injuries Sustained In Duck Boat Accidents


In a duck boat accident, people can sustain a variety of injuries, including:

It's important to note that the severity of injuries can vary greatly depending on the specific circumstances of the recreational boating accident. However, due to forces involved in boat crashes a passengers injuries are generally severe and require extensive recovery periods. If you or a someone you know was hurt in a boating accident and a duck boat was involved, consult with a personal injury attorney today.


Who Is Liable In A Duck Boat Accident?


Liability in a duck boat accident can depend on the specific circumstances of the accident and the jurisdiction where it occurred. Generally speaking, the parties that could potentially be held liable in a duck boat accident include:


Operator or owner


This can include companies or individuals who own or operate the duck boat. They can be held liable for accidents that occur as a result of their negligence, such as failing to properly maintain or inspect the boat, or failing to properly train the crew.


Manufacturer


If a defect in the design or manufacturing of the boat is found to have contributed to the accident, the manufacturer can be held liable.


Government entities


If the accident occurred on a lake or river that was under the jurisdiction of a government entity, they may be held liable if it can be proven that they failed to properly regulate the operation of the duck boat or failed to maintain the lake or river in a safe condition.


Other third parties


Other third parties such as repair and maintenance service providers, or the companies that provided safety equipment, could also be held liable if it can be proven that their negligence contributed to the accident.


It's important to note that liability can be complex and it's always best to consult with an experienced attorney to fully understand the parties that could be held liable for a duck boat accident.


What Type of Damages Can I Obtain In A Personal Injury Lawsuit?


In a personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff (the person who is filing the lawsuit) can seek damages for the harms and losses they have suffered as a result of the defendant's (the person or entity being sued) negligence or wrongdoing. The types of damages that can be obtained in a personal injury lawsuit can include:


Medical expenses


This can include the cost of past and future medical treatments, such as hospital stays, surgeries, medications, and physical therapy.


Lost wages


If the plaintiff is unable to work as a result of their injuries, they can seek compensation for the wages or salary they have lost.


Pain and suffering


This is a type of non-economic damage that compensates the plaintiff for the physical and emotional pain and suffering caused by the accident.


Loss of consortium


This type of damages compensate the plaintiff's spouse or partner for the loss of the plaintiff's companionship, love, and support.


Punitive damages


These damages are intended to punish the defendant for particularly egregious conduct and are not awarded in all cases.


Examples of Lawsuits Involving Duck Boats


There have been several notable lawsuits involving duck boats in recent years. Some examples include:

  1. In 2018, a duck boat accident on Table Rock Lake in Missouri resulted in 17 deaths. The families of the victims filed wrongful death lawsuits against the boat's operator, Ripley Entertainment, alleging that the company failed to maintain and inspect the boat, and failed to properly train the crew.

  2. In 1999, 13 people were killed when a duck boat in Hot Springs, Arkansas capsized in a lake. The families of the victims filed wrongful death lawsuits against the boat's operator, Ride the Ducks International, alleging that the boat was not properly designed or maintained, and that the company failed to properly train the crew.

  3. In 2010, a duck boat in Boston collided with a motor scooter resulting in the death of a passenger. The families of the victim filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the operator of the duck boat, alleging that the operator failed to properly train the crew and failed to adhere to safety protocols.

  4. In 2015, a duck boat in Seattle capsized, resulting in five deaths. The families of the victims filed wrongful death lawsuits against the boat's operator, Ride the Ducks of Seattle, alleging that the company failed to properly maintain and inspect the boat, and failed to properly train the crew.

Preventing Duck Boat Disasters

  1. Regularly inspecting and maintaining the duck boat for any mechanical issues or defects.

  2. Following safety protocols and guidelines, such as ensuring that all passengers are wearing appropriate life jackets.

  3. Having a trained and experienced captain or operator in charge of the vessel.

  4. Properly educating and training all crew members and passengers on emergency procedures.

  5. Monitoring weather conditions and avoiding dangerous situations such as severe storms.

  6. Having an adequate number of life jackets and emergency equipment on board.

  7. Keeping the number of passengers within the capacity limit of the boat.

  8. Establishing strict rules and regulations for the operation of duck boats.

  9. Implementing a comprehensive safety management system (SMS)

  10. Conducting regular safety drills and emergency response exercises.

It's important to note that these are general suggestions and specific safety measures will depend on the type of duck boat and the area where it is operating.


Duck Boats Are Not Meant for Civilian Use


Duck boats were once dependable tools for convenient touring or transportation, but a number of crashes over the past two decades have proved them dangerous. Our duck boat lawyers at Sneed & Mitchell understand the physical and mental anguish caused by these accidents and are here to fight for justice on your behalf. If you or someone you know has experienced a duck boat accident, contact us right away—we’re standing by to assist.


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Attorney Niles Sneed - Personal Injury Lawyer
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