The Leading Causes of a Boating Accident


The drivers seat of a boat on a body of water before a boating accident.

Enjoying a day out on the water is one of the simple pleasures of a Missouri summer. However, a relaxing day at the Lake of the Ozarks or an afternoon on the Missouri River can quickly lead to disaster with a sudden boating accident. Many people are injured or killed each year due to recreational boating accidents that could have been prevented.

As the recreational boating season reaches its peak, the attorneys at MHM want you to be aware of the leading causes of a boating accident so you can protect yourself from a preventable tragedy. 

Mechanical Failure 

Machinery is never perfect and failures can happen. When they do, boat owners and drivers must remain vigilant and conduct proper checks of all their boat’s mechanics prior to entering the water. If machinery fails and someone is injured, the boat owner or driver would be at fault if they knew about the issue prior to departure and failed to address it. Common mechanical dangers that lead to a boating accident are: 

  • Engine failure
  • Electrical failure 
  • Navigation system errors
  • Broken equipment

Impaired Driving 

Operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal in Missouri. Boating while intoxicated (BWI) can cause impaired balance, blurred vision, slower reaction times and poor coordination — all of which are necessary to maintain while operating a boat. Intoxicated drivers put not only themselves at risk for injury, but also increase the risk of injury for their own passengers and other boaters.

Distracted Driving

Keeping a sharp lookout while operating a water vessel requires much attention and concentration. Boats are designed with occupancy limits that help monitor visibility and safety while driving and floating. If too many people are in the boat, it increases the likelihood of a distraction that could impede the driver’s reaction time or their ability to see an incoming vessel. Additionally, phones should be put away while driving to avoid further distraction and the increased potential for a boating accident. 

Safety Unpreparedness 

Many boating accidents occur due to a lack of safety precautions and equipment aboard their vessel. Safety essentials include: life jackets, throwable floatation devices, fire extinguishers, visual distress signals such as flares and flags, working headlights for nights on the water and a working boat horn. Boat owners and its operator should make sure their boat contains the necessary equipment to aid in an emergency situation and prevent possible drownings, capsizes, fires and strandings prior to departure. 

Boating Inexperience 

Driving a boat requires great skill especially on Missouri’s rivers and lakes that have large curves and populated swimming areas. All operators and its passengers must remain vigilant of their surroundings in order to avoid a sudden collison. Additionally, Missouri law requires all boat and watercraft operators born after January 1, 1984, must pass a safety course and obtain a license to carry on their vessel. 

Excessive Speed

Despite a boat operator’s experience, speed limits and no wake zones must be followed on the water to prevent severe crashes and capsizing. High speeds make it difficult for operators to see other boats and watercraft, and it hinders how quickly drivers can slow their vessel down in the event of incoming boat traffic. 

Helping You Navigate a Boating Accident Claim

At MHM, we understand the physical and emotional strain a boating accident can leave on one of your favorite summer pastimes. When a boating accident occurs due to someone else’s negligence on the water, you have a right to seek compensation for your injuries. Our personal injury attorneys stand with you in your fight for the justice you and your loved ones deserve following a boating accident. Contact our attorneys today to begin navigating the claim process.