Formerly Padberg, Corrigan & Appelbaum

St. Louis Boating Accident Attorneys

Boating on the Missouri and Illinois waterways is a beloved pastime for residents and visitors alike. Due to their sheer size and high-speed capabilities, operating a personal or commercial boat comes with a variety of safety risks. The consequences of a boating accident can range from property damage and injury to the loss of a loved one.

To mitigate some of the risks associated with operating a boat, drivers are commonly required to complete some type of boating education and certification for their state of operation. Unfortunately, even with these precautions, boating accidents do occur. They can be caused by numerous factors related to the boat’s driver, such as operating under the influence, as well as factors out of a driver’s control, including severe weather. According to the United States Coast Guard, the primary contributing factors in boating accidents are:

  • Operator inattention
  • Improper lookout
  • Operator inexperience
  • Machinery failure
  • Alcohol use

When there is an injury or fatality from an accident involving a boat, the injured party or their family may be able to file a lawsuit. A boating accident case is often complex, and involves an understanding of state and federal boating safety regulations and maritime law, along with the mechanics of operating a personal boat or commercial vessel. Padberg Appelbaum Knepper is a St. Louis boating accident law firm that is uniquely qualified to represent victims of personal and commercial boating accidents in Missouri and Illinois, including but not limited to the following vessels:

  • Houseboats
  • Personal watercraft (PWC) such as jet skis
  • Fishing boats
  • Ski boats
  • Yachts
  • Barges
  • Amphibious vehicles, such as a duck boat
  • Pontoon boats
  • Ferry boats
  • Catamarans
  • Cargo Vessels
  • Kayaks and canoes

Who can file a claim in a boating accident?

Anyone who was injured or whose property was damaged because of a boating accident may be able to file a claim, including the boat’s owner, operator, passenger(s), or another vessel involved in the accident. If a minor was injured, a parent can bring a claim on the minor’s behalf. In the event of a fatal accident, the family or other authorized representatives of the departed may be able to bring a case for Wrongful Death.

Who is liable if I’m injured in a commercial boating accident?

Depending on the specifics of the case, the liable party could be an employer, a boat’s manufacturer or the owner and/or operator of the boat. If the claim was filed against an employer, the case would either be a Workers Compensation claim or a Federal Jones Act case. If there is a defect in the vessel, the manufacturer could be held responsible. Learn more about Padberg Appelbaum Knepper’s experience in Products Liability litigation. Lastly, the owner and/or operator of the boat can be held liable for negligence – but it is important to note that federal maritime laws may apply, depending on the location of the accident.

Who is liable if I’m injured in a personal or recreational boating accident?

The operator of the boat can be held liable for negligence, regardless of whether the boat was owned by the operator, rented or borrowed with permission. If another boat was involved in the accident, in the case of a collision, the claim would be against the negligent operator as is similar to automobile collisions.

Are boating accidents handled in state or federal courts?

Boating accident lawsuits can take place in a state or federal court, depending on where the accident occurred and the type of vessel involved. Regulatory agencies, including the United States Coast Guard, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and the Missouri Water Patrol, may also be involved in the legal proceedings. The presiding agency does not need to complete their investigation before a civil claim can be filed.

What can I expect if I file a lawsuit after a boating accident and how long will it take?

Depending on where the accident took place and whether it was a commercial or recreational accident, federal and/or regulatory agencies may be involved in the legal proceedings and may need to complete an investigation. During this time, injured parties can hire an experienced boating accident law firm to begin building their case. The firm will file their client’s lawsuit and serve papers to the defendant(s). At this point, the defendant has an opportunity to file a response to the case. Both parties then move into discovery, where the investigation progresses and depositions are taken. After discovery, a trial or mediation will be scheduled. Because of the complexity of these cases, it can take months or years to come to a resolution or reach a settlement.

Do I have a case if the boat accident was my fault, or if I was injured because I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt or life vest?

A boating accident can be the fault of multiple parties. When the injured person is found to have contributed fault it does not necessarily mean there is no case, but it could reduce the potential amount of compensation that can be recovered.
Wearing a seat belt or life vest is always the best safety precaution, but it is important to talk with our attorneys about the specifics of your case.

Are there any related statutes of limitations?

In both Missouri and Illinois, there are statutes of limitations for personal injury cases. The amount of time depends on the type of lawsuit stemming from the boating accident, for example in Missouri there is a five-year time limit for personal injury cases and two years for Worker’s Compensation cases. An experienced boating accident attorney can help determine if there is still time to file a case or if there is a possibility for a time extension.

How much does a boating accident injury lawsuit cost?

Padberg Appelbaum Knepper works on a contingent fee basis. That means a case does not cost our clients anything if we don’t recover money for them. If we do recover money through a settlement or judgment, we receive a percentage of that amount in addition to being paid back any expenses incurred prosecuting the case. We work diligently to hold the defendant responsible for all of the damages they caused in an effort to receive the highest possible compensation for our clients. Contact our office today for a free and confidential consultation with one of our St. Louis boating accident lawyers.