Over the last decade, there has been a significant increase in the number of boat and watercraft injuries on Missouri waterways, including the Lake of the Ozarks, Table Rock Lake, Mark Twain Lake, and even on the Missouri River. Personal Watercraft (PWC) operators have a responsibility under Missouri law to safely operate their vessel, so if you are a victim of a PWC accident, then you may be able to file a claim or lawsuit to recover compensation for the injuries you sustained. This includes compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain, and suffering, and even a decrease in quality of life.

Types of Accidents

Boating accidents seem pretty self-explanatory: they are accidents that happen on or with a boat. However, it covers a wide variety of different accidents and vessels, from sailboats to speedboats to personal watercraft (jet skis) to even hovercraft. The most common kinds of accidents include either hitting another vessel or hitting an obstacle, like a reef or a dock.

When a wreck happens on a lake or a river, it will likely be covered by local and state laws.

Reporting to the Authorities

If a boating accident meets certain criteria, it must be reported to the nearest boating authorities. These criteria include:

  • If a life is lost
  • If there is a substantial injury requiring treatment beyond first aid
  • If a person is missing, and there is reason to believe they were injured or killed
  • There is a total loss of a vessel
  • The total damage caused in the accident equals at least $2,000

Only one of these requirements must be met before a report must be filed.

A Few Common Reasons for Accidents Are:

  • Running out of gas
  • Running aground 
  • Ignoring weather
  • Speeding at night
  • Lacking proper safety gear
  • Not having a lookout
  • Breaking down
  • Catching fire
  • Sinking
  • Falling overboard


Boating accidents happen for many reasons, but one of the most common is alcohol. In 2014, alcohol use caused 277 accidents, 248 injuries, and 108 deaths nationwide. Operating a boat with any alcohol in your system can result in your death or the death of others.

Accident Rate

In 2020, the Coast Guard counted 5,265 accidents that involved 767 deaths, 3,191 injuries, and approximately $62.5 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents.

The fatality rate was 6.5 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels.

Contact Us

Get in touch with us today if you need representation in a boating accident case, or if you have any questions about boating accidents in Missouri. Call us at (417) 626-9880 or fill out the contact form on our website.