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Lawsuit Over Fatal Duck Boat Sinking Seeks $100 Million

By: Allan M. Siegel

A wrongful death lawsuit filed against the operator of a duck boat which sank on a lake near Branson, Missouri is seeking $100 million in damages. The lawsuit stems from an incident on July 19th when an amphibious vessel owned and operated by Ride the Ducks Branson sank on Table Rock Lake. At the time of the sinking, 31 passengers were aboard. A total of 17 victims, ages 1 to 76, died in the incident.

The tragic accident earned nationwide attention for the number of victims involved, and for claims that it could and should have been prevented. In the recently filed wrongful death lawsuit, family members of the victims claim that as the vessel started sinking, passengers became entrapped in the boat’s canopy and were dragged to the bottom of the lake. The suit further alleges that passengers may have survived if the operators had not ignored a 2002 safety recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) advising all duck boat canopies to be removed.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits

The lawsuit was filed on Sunday July 29th in U.S. District Court, and names Ripley Entertainment, Ride the Ducks International, Ride the Ducks Branson, Herschend Family Entertainment, and Amphibious Vehicle Manufacturing as defendants. Like any personal injury or wrongful death case, it makes claims that the accident and the deaths could and should have been prevented. For example, the suit states that the defendants knew about the risks associated with duck boats, which have been previously involved in a number of accidents resulting in multiple deaths, and that the companies involved failed to take steps to ensure the safety of passengers.

Wrongful death lawsuits like this are important for a number of reasons. Not only do they allow family members to seek justice for the loss of their loved ones, but also financial compensation for various economic and non-economic damages resulted from that loss, including:

  • Lost financial support
  • Lost emotional support
  • Emotional injuries (i.e. grief, mental anguish, etc.)
  • Loss consortium or companionship
  • Funeral and burial expenses

In addition to helping families obtain at least some sense of justice and compensation for life-altering losses, wrongful death suits are also critical in highlighting the failures of at-fault parties – an objective that can be especially important when those parties are commercial businesses or when the issues involved pose potential risks to other consumers and members of the public. In fact, raising awareness about critical safety failures through such lawsuits can help place a heightened focus on risks inherent to a certain issue or industry, such as the duck boat industry, and prompt changes for better regulations, warnings, and government intervention that can better ensure the safety of customers and the public moving forward.

Wrongful death cases are among the most challenging and emotionally difficult lawsuits handled by personal injury lawyers, but their important to both families and public safety cannot be understated. At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., our legal team has been representing families in wrongful death lawsuits across Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia for decades, and know that they demand the attention of experienced and compassionate professionals who prioritize families in need. We are hopeful that this lawsuit, like many before, will help provide the affected families with the justice they deserve, and prove the catalyst for needed changes for the benefit of safety.