Duck Boat Accident Lawsuit
A duck boat accident lawsuit may be an option for people who have been injured, or the family members of those killed, in a duck boat accident. For years, duck boats have been a popular tourist activity in major cities and waterfront destinations throughout the United States.
Since 1999, when 13 people were killed after a duck boat sank in Hot Springs, Arkansas, duck boats have been reportedly linked to more than 40 deaths. Dozens more have been injured as well. When an accident results in injury due to the negligence of another, injured parties may be able to pursue a claim and recover compensation with the help of a boat accident lawyer.
For more information, contact Attorney Group to learn about your options. We offer free, no obligation consultations. We can help answer your questions, and if you choose to pursue a claim we can connect you with an affiliated attorney who can assist you throughout the legal process.
Have You Seen a Duck Boat Accident Lawsuit Commercial?
You may have seen a duck boat accident lawsuit commercial on television and wondered whether you or a loved one have been affected by a duck boat accident and, if so, whether you are eligible to pursue a claim against the boat company or ride operator. The purpose of this article is to provide you with additional information about lawsuits and other litigation involving duck boat accidents so that you have a better understanding of your options.
What is a Duck Boat?
Duck boats are amphibious vehicles primarily used as a tourist activity in cities with access to rivers, lakes and other waterfronts.
Duck boats were originally used during World War II and the Korean War to transport goods and troops over land and water. In most cases, the duck boats (known as DUKW) were a modified version of the GMC CCKW, a utility vehicle used to carry supplies and troops.
The vehicles were first used as a tourist attraction after surplus military supplies were made available to the American public. According to Amusement Today, a war veteran and his friend purchased a duck boat and began offering tours in and around Wisconsin Dells in 1946. The business changed hands several times before finally becoming the Original Wisconsin Ducks in 1956.
“Duck Tours” are popular in a number of major American cities including Chicago, Miami and Washington, D.C. as well as other vacation spots near lakes such as Branson, Missouri; Chattanooga, Tennessee; and Hot Springs, Arkansas. Duck boats in the Boston area are a top tourist attraction in the city and have been used for sports championship celebrations by New England pro sports teams, including the Boston Bruins, Boston Celtics, Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots.
Although duck tours are popular attractions for many tourists, the vehicles can be somewhat difficult to maintain. Due to the crafts’ use over land and water, and the availability of vehicle parts, duck boats are a challenge even for experienced mechanics and crews. Since becoming a viable tourist attraction, duck boats have had their share of fatal and non-fatal accidents.
Duck Boat Accidents
Not all duck boat accidents are fatal; however, dozens of people have lost their lives as a result of a duck boat crash. In many cases, these crashes were a result of improper maintenance, operator negligence or failure to heed federal recommendations regarding duck boat safety.
Branson, Missouri – July 19, 2018
On July 19, 2018, a duck boat operated by Branson-based tour attraction known as Ride the Ducks sank on Table Rock Lake near the popular tourist town in the Ozark Mountains. Seventeen of the 31 people who were aboard the vessel at the time of the accident were killed, including five children.
Although the initial cause of the accident has yet to be determined, severe thunderstorms with hurricane force winds were reported in the area, according to NBC News. An additional report issued by NBC News indicated that a full NTSB investigation into the accident could take up to a year to complete. Ride the Ducks is owned by Ripley Entertainment, a company owned by the Jim Pattison Group of Vancouver, Canada.
Boston, Massachusetts – April 30, 2016
A 29-year-old woman was killed when the scooter she was riding was struck by a duck boat headed to Beacon Hill in Boston. According to the Washington Post, the fatal accident prompted Massachusetts lawmakers to pass legislation prohibiting duck boat drivers form narrating and driving at the same time as well as requiring duck boats to be equipped with cameras and sensors to detect blind spots.
Seattle, Washington – September 24, 2015
On September 24, 2015, the driver of a duck boat lost control and veered into a charter bus on the Aurora Bridge in Seattle, Washingtn. Five people were killed in the accident, and 71 more were injured. According to a report by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), “the mechanical failure of the left front axle of an amphibious passenger vehicle is the probable cause” of the fatal accident.
The Board’s final report indicated that “[i]mproper manufacturing by Ride the Ducks International, the vehicle manufacturer, and inadequate maintenance by Ride the Ducks of Seattle, the vehicle owner and operator, resulted in the axle failure that subsequently led to the loss of vehicle control.”
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – July 7, 2010
On July 7, 2010, a tugboat known as the Caribbean Sea collided with the DUKW 34, an anchored amphibious duck boat, while towing an empty sludge barge up the Delaware River near Philadelphia. According to the NTSB, the mate operating the tugboat “failed to maintain a proper lookout” because he was distracted by “his repeated use of a cell phone and lap top computer.”
The NTSB investigation also revealed that maintenance personnel and the duck boat’s owner and operator did not ensure the vehicle’s safety, which “allowed the engine to overheat” and ultimately led the operator to anchor the vessel in an active channel. The operator’s lack of action, according to the NTSB, likely contributed to the accident as well.
Hot Springs, Arkansas – May 1, 1999
On May 1, 1999, a duck boat named Miss Majestic sank on Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, Arkansas. According to a report by the NTSB, 21 people were on board when water began entering the hull, causing the vehicle to sink only about seven minutes into the lake tour. Thirteen people were killed as a result of the accident, and the NTSB cited “inadequate maintenance” as the cause of the sinking, and that “the lack of reserve buoyancy and inadequate Coast Guard oversight” may have contributed as well.
NTSB Duck Boat Recommendations
After the fatal duck boat accident in Hot Springs, Arkansas in 1999, the NTSB recommended immediate action with regards to duck boats and their operators, including:
- the removal of canopies during water operations or installation of a Coast Guard approved canopy that would not restrict the horizontal or vertical escape of passengers;
- closing unnecessary access plugs;
- reduction of through-hull penetrations to the minimum size needed for operation; and
- installation of independently powered electric bilge pumps.
NTSB recommendations have reportedly been ignored by those in the industry, even as dozens of people have lost their lives in fatal duck boat crashes.
Duck Boat Regulations
Duck boats are mostly regulated by local and state laws. Additionally, the NTSB regulates duck boat travel on the road while the U.S. Coast Guard requires the vessels to have a certificate of inspection and route certification.
Outside of those parameters, duck boats are largely unregulated. In fact, the NTSB may make recommendations, but the agency has no regulatory power to enforce them.
Some states, such as Massachusetts, have implemented stricter laws concerning duck boats and their operators, but only after the parents of a woman killed by a duck boat pressured Massachusetts state lawmakers to do so. In other cases, duck boat tours have scaled back on the number of duck boats in their fleet.
Lauren A. on May 16, 2016
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Have There Been Any Duck Boat Accident Lawsuit Settlements?
Settlements are resolutions between parties involved in a legal case. In many cases, a settlement occurs before the case is tried in court, when the parties involved come to an agreement about the claims being made. As with some personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits, duck boat accidents have settled.
According to Reuters, a civil lawsuit was filed when a duck boat crashed in 2010 in Philadelphia, drowning two students. Before the case went to trial, a $17 million settlement was reached after a U.S. District Court judge suggested that the parties negotiate.
After 12 plaintiffs filed a lawsuit over the fatal duck boat accident on Aurora Bridge in Seattle in 2015, Washington state and the city of Seattle agreed to pay a total of $4.4 million. According to KOMO News in Seattle, over 40 plaintiffs have filed suit over the fatal crash that left five people dead.
Duck Boat Accident Lawsuit News
- July 2018Duck boat operated by Ride the Ducks sinks on Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri, killing 17 of the 31 people on board.
- June 2018According to KOMO News in Seattle, Washington, city and state governments settled with 12 plaintiffs who filed a lawsuit over a deadly duck boat crash in 2015 that killed five people.
- April 2016A 29-year-old woman is killed when the scooter she was riding was struck by a duck boat headed to Beacon Hill in Boston, Massachusetts.
- September 2015The driver of a duck boat loses control and collides with a charter bus on the Aurora Bridge in Seattle, Washington, killing 5 people and injuring 71.
- May 2012According to Reuters, a $17 million settlement was reached in duck boat accident lawsuit over the deaths of two students killed in a duck boat crash in Philadelphia.
- July 2010A tugboat collides with an anchored amphibious duck boat while towing an empty sludge barge up the Delaware River near Philadelphia. Two people were killed.
- May 1999Twenty-one people are killed when a duck boat sinks on Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
How a Duck Boat Accident Lawsuit Attorney Can Help
Duck boat operators and duck boat companies have a duty to operate and maintain their vessels in a reasonably safe manner. If they fail to fulfill this duty, they could be held liable in lawsuits for injuries that may result.
People injured in a duck boat accident may be entitled to compensation for damages, including:
- Medical expenses
- The permanency of the injury
- Pain, suffering, and mental anguish
- Loss of income or ability to work
When a person is killed in a duck boat accident, family members may be entitled to compensation for the wrongful death of their loved one, including:
- Conscious pain and suffering of a loved one prior to death
- Pain, suffering, and mental anguish from the loss of a loved one
- Funeral expenses
People injured, or the families of those killed, in duck boat accidents are encouraged to seek the advice of a personal injury attorney to learn more about their rights and remedies.