This past weekend, two men from Missouri were killed in a speed boat accident in southern Kentucky. They were driving a high-powered speed boat on Lake Cumberland when, unexpectedly, the boat flipped over, throwing both men into the water. Their bodies were retrieved one hour later. Investigators attributed the accident to driver error.
The driver apparently was new to speed boating and was described by friends as an enthusiast. The two men were participating in an event known as the Lake Cumberland Power Run, which supposedly combined "the raw fury of over 150 of the country's meanest and fastest powerboats with the fun and energy of Mardi Gras." Yet the driver's inexperience may have led him to underestimate the potential speed of the boat he was powering. A Kentucky Fish and Wildlife investigator noted that the boat's top speed may have been as high as 100 miles per hour. When both men were ejected, the driver suffered blunt force trauma to the head, while the other man suffered blunt force trauma to his abdomen and lower extremities.
Despite the deadliness of boat accidents, not nearly as much attention is given to boat safety as car safety. In Kentucky, someone operating a boat unsupervised is required to get an education certificate in boat safety only if that person is between the ages of 12 and 17 and only if the motorized boat has more than 10 horsepower. The state's DMV encourages those who don't fall within the age range to get an education certificate anyway, but does not require it. Therefore, a Kentucky resident of the driver's age, with his level of experience, would not be required to obtain any sort of training prior to operating a high-speed boat. Instead, the only requirement is that the boat must be registered.
Nonetheless, those who do operate boats have a general duty to operate them with reasonable care under the circumstances, just as they would a car or truck. That means not speeding while intoxicated, or while distracted by other things. Although waterways are much less crowded than roadways, there may be other people sharing the water that day, and the lack of defined boundaries (unlike lines in the road) just increases the possibility of a collision.
Those who are injured by a boat, or lose a loved one in an accident, have the option of hiring a Kentucky traffic accident attorney and filing a lawsuit, just as they would with a car accident. They could argue (1) that the boat driver had a duty of reasonable care under the circumstances to others sharing the waterway; (2) that the driver breached that duty through inappropriate behavior; (3) that the breach was the cause of the injured party's injury; and (4) as a result of the injury, the party had serious health problems and/or died.
Miller & Falkner is a plaintiffs law firm serving residents of Kentucky and Indiana. Located in Louisville, Kentucky, the firm provides representation in the areas of personal injury and employment law. Contact us today for a free consultation.