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Boating and Watercraft Accident Lawyer in St. Louis

Protecting victims injured by reckless, speeding, or drunk boaters

A popular way to beat the heat in the Missouri summer is to enjoy a day on the water. Whether you visit Creve Coeur Lake, the Meramec, Lake of the Ozarks, Table Rock Lake, , or other St. Louis area waterways, safety is always key. However, the more people out on the water, the higher the risk of being involved in an accident with a reckless or negligent boater. These accidents can result in collisions, drownings, and other tragedies.

The team at The Hayden Law Firm understands the complexity and difficulty of these types of injury claims. We have an intricate knowledge of state and local boating laws, and will hold the at-fault party accountable for your injuries, or for the wrongful death of your loved one. To find out how we can seek financial compensation on your behalf, contact us today for a free, no-risk consultation. We serve the greater St. Louis area and Illinois.

What are the boater safety laws in Missouri?

Whatever type of vessel a person is operating, they must have the appropriate safety training and permits. Here in Missouri, this includes:

  • Anyone born after January 1, 1984 must pass a Missouri Boater Education Course before operating a motorized vessel on any MO lake
  • A boat operator must be at least 14 years of age unless accompanied by an adult
  • Proof of safety education also applies to personal watercraft and out-of-state boaters

The Missouri State Highway Patrol, Water Patrol Division provides more information regarding Safety Education Classes.

Boat and vessel operators are subject to the same safety rules and regulations as when they are driving a vehicle. Unfortunately, when some individuals combine the summer sun, negligence, and alcohol, tragedy occurs.

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How common are boating accidents and injuries?

In 2019, the most current data available as of this writing, the United States Coast Guard reported “4,168 accidents that involved 613 deaths, 2,559 injuries and approximately $55 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents.”

Other statistics the Coast Guard provides regarding boating accidents and fatalities include:

  • 79% of fatal boating accident victims drowned; of these, 86% were not wearing a life jacket
  • Alcohol use is the leading factor in deadly boating accidents
  • 70% of fatal accidents occurred on boats where the operator had no safety training
  • The most common vessels involved in boat accidents are motorboats, personal watercraft, and cabin-type motorboats

You can find out more in the Coast Guard’s full report.

What are the major causes of boating accidents and injuries?

Like any accident, boat and watercraft crashes happen from a wide variety of causes, although some are more common than others. The Coast Guard lists the top five contributing factors to deadly boating accidents as operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed, and alcohol use.

The common thread that ties all of these together, however, is negligence. Negligent actions leading to serious boat accidents include:

  • Boating under the influence. Although a day out on the water might be a nice time to relax with a beer or drink, the driver of the boat must always remain sober. Drinking and operating a boat is just as illegal – and just as deadly – as drinking and driving.
  • Boater inexperience. Operating a boat is much different than driving a car. Changing conditions on the water and maneuvering watercraft makes it more difficult to respond to emergency situations, and inexperienced or untrained boaters can cause tragic accidents if they don’t know what they’re doing.
  • Reckless or distracted boaters. Operating a boat while distracted is as dangerous as distracted driving. When a boater isn’t paying attention to their surroundings, whether due to reckless behavior like speeding, or even casual actions like eating and drinking or using a smartphone, they can cause tragic crashes and collisions on the water.

Any of these factors, a combination of these, or a general lack of attention to safety, can contribute to boating and watercraft accidents. A St. Louis personal injury attorney at The Hayden Law Firm can help determine who or what caused your injuries and hold them accountable.

What are common injuries from St. Louis boating and watercraft accidents?

Although every person and every injury is different, there are several types of injuries that tend to be more common with boating accidents. For example:

  • Drowning. Even though many people who frequent the water know how to swim, or have access to lifejackets, drowning remains an overwhelming cause of death in boat accidents. Or, those who can swim may not have a chance to save themselves if they suffer head trauma or are pulled under in rough water.
  • Traumatic brain injuries. Brain trauma can happen to an individual on a boat in a number of different ways. Colliding with a stationary object can cause a brain injury, as can near-drowning, from oxygen deprivation. Injury victims can also suffer brain damage from carbon monoxide poisoning if an engine is left running or idling.
  • Spinal cord injuries. These can be the result of collisions or spinal compression from traveling in a boat at high, bouncing speeds. A spinal cord injury can also be a result of making contact with a propeller.
  • Lacerations. Motorboats and similar watercraft move at high speed because of their large, spinning propellers. If a person gets too close to a propeller, or a negligent boater gets too close to a swimmer, the moving blades can cause catastrophic injury – including deep lacerations, cuts, or even limb loss.
  • Electrocution. Many boats and watercraft rely on electrical systems, which requires an electrical current. When an owner fails to maintain their boat or dock, stray electricity and standing water can cause serious electrocution injuries. These can cause heart attacks, electrical burns, and more.

No matter what injuries you or your loved one suffered, The Hayden Law Firm will determine the liable party (or parties) and work to ensure they are held accountable for the harm they’ve caused.

What are the most common injuries from bicycle crashes?

Often in bicycle accidents and collisions, the cyclist is thrown from their bike to the ground or into another object, like a windshield. This type of impact can result in serious or catastrophic injury, including:

  • Broken and fractured bones
  • Bruising
  • Burn injuries
  • Concussions
  • Infections
  • Internal injuries
  • Lacerations

Overwhelmingly, victims of bicycle accidents suffer a high incidence of head injuries, especially when not wearing a helmet. Survivors of bike crashes may also experience emotional trauma and post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Who is liable for my boating accident injury?

Depending on the circumstances of the incident, there are several potential liable parties. These parties might include:

  • The boat’s operator, if they failed to provide proper safety measures or acted negligently
  • A boat’s passenger, if they acted recklessly and put other passengers or the boat’s operator in danger
  • The boat’s owner, if they failed to maintain the boat, or allowed an unqualified person to operate it
  • The boat’s manufacturer, if a defective part caused the boat accident
  • The boat rental company, if they provided you with a defective watercraft

Once we determine the liable party, we work to secure the compensation to which you are entitled for your injuries and losses.

How much is my St. Louis boating accident injury claim worth?

Because boat crash injuries can be so serious, it is crucial you consult with experienced counsel to ensure you are properly and fairly compensated for your losses. At The Hayden Law Firm, when we take your case, we seek the following types of financial compensation on your behalf:

  • Lost wages, current and future
  • Reduced earning capacity
  • Medical expenses, current and future
  • Mental or emotional distress
  • Property damage
  • Physical and emotional pain and suffering
  • Rehabilitation and therapy expenses

Contacting an attorney as soon as possible after your accident gives you the best chance for a successful outcome. Keep in mind that personal injury claims in Missouri must meet a five-year statute of limitations.

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St. Louis boating accident claim lawyer

When you have suffered injury or lost a loved one in a boating accident due to another’s negligence, let the attorneys at The Hayden Law Firm help. We determine liable parties, seek compensation, and hold the right people responsible when their reckless behavior causes harm to others. Please call our offices at 314-480-3100 or fill out our contact form for a free, no-risk consultation. We are based in St. Louis, Missouri, but our firm proudly serves clients throughout Missouri and Illinois.


St. Louis Office

230 S Bemiston Ave #1107, St. Louis, MO 63105

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