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Family of duck boat victims files $100 million lawsuit

New Jersey readers may have heard about the horrific Missouri duck boat accident that claimed the lives of 17 people, including 9 members of a single family, in mid-July. Now, the estates of two members of that family have filed a $100 million wrongful death lawsuit in federal court.

The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri on July 29, claims that duck boats are "death traps" that endanger passengers on both land and water. The suit alleges that the owners of Ride the Ducks Branson had been warned that the design of their boats was dangerous and that the vessels could take on water during harsh weather. It also contends that the owners of the company "repeatedly" compromised the safety of their customers in order to boost their profits.

The duck boat sank during severe weather on July 19. The lawsuit accuses the company of knowing that bad weather was imminent when it left the shore with 31 people aboard. It further alleges that the captain failed to tell passengers to put on their life jackets when the weather turned violent. It also accuses him of lowering the plastic side curtains on the boat, trapping passengers within the canopied vessel. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the accident. The lawsuit was filed by the estates of a 76-year-old male victim and a 2-year-old male victim.

Families who have lost loved ones in a fatal accident have the right to pursue compensation in civil court. By filing a wrongful death lawsuit, a family may be able to recover damages for funeral and burial expenses, loss of income, loss of companionship and more. An attorney might evaluate a family's case and help gather evidence supporting a wrongful death claim.

Source: USA Today, "Family files $100M wrongful death lawsuit in Branson duck boat accident; 'duck boats are death traps'," Vic Ryckaert, July 30, 2018

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