Missouri Boat Accident Lawyer

Missouri is home to numerous beautiful recreational lakes, including Lake of the Ozarks, Table Rock Lake in Branson, and Truman Lake. We are also blessed with the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. The Missouri State Water Patrol Division enforces Missouri’s boating laws and regulations on all of these waterways.

Boating with your family is one of the absolute best experiences in life. Water skiing, jet skiing, surfing, and wake boarding are some of the fondest memories some families have enjoying time together. For the unlucky few who encounter reckless and dangerous boaters, these beautiful memories can turn into nightmares.

When your life is forever changed by a reckless and negligent boater, you need an experienced Missouri boat accident lawyer who has decades of experience on both the waterways and the courtroom.  The boat accident attorneys at The Bradley Law Firm bring you unparalleled boating / yachting experience and have recovered millions of dollars for victims of negligence. Our Missouri boat accident lawyers handle the following types of cases:

Boat Accident Lawyer Ryan Bradley Navigating Through New York

Ryan navigating his vessel from New York to Florida

Missouri Boat Accident Police Reports

The Missouri State Highway Patrol will investigate all waterway incidents. Preliminary police reports are available here. If you were severely hurt or had a loved on involved in a deadly boat accident, our boating accident attorneys will order the full report for you and conduct a full investigation.

Missouri Boat License Laws

In Missouri whether you need a boating license depends upon how old you are. In 2005, Missouri enacted new laws to combat the increasing number of boating accidents and deaths in Missouri., especially at Lake of the Ozarks. As of 2005, anyone born after January 1, 1984 must pass a Missouri boater education test and class before operating a vessel on any lake within the state. The test must be approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) and certified by the water patrol division. Operators must carry the card on the vessel when it is operated.

There are a number of exceptions to the above rule. You do not need to comply with the above rule if you:

  • have a masters license from the coast guard;
  • operate a vessel on a private lake or pond;
  • participate in an event approved by the water patrol;
  • are a non-resident who has proof of a valid boating license issued by another state if the class is approved by the NASBLA;
  • have an exemption from the water patrol;
  • are a current member of the United States Armed Forces, reserves, or Missouri National Guard, or the spouse of any such person, or
  • previously passed a boating safety education course approved by the NASBLA.

Notably, you do not need a boaters license to operate a vessel on any river or stream in Missouri. Failure to comply with Missouri’s boating license requirements is often fertile ground for liability. In fact, a study revealed of 192 Missouri boat crashes, 106 of the operators did not have an operator’s license.

Lake of the Ozarks Boating Speed Limit

Currently, there is no maximum speed limit for boats on the Lake of the Ozark during the daytime. However, 30 minutes before and after sunset the speed limit is 30 miles per hour. However Missouri statute 306.125 states all boat operators must drive in a careful and prudent manner at a rate of speed so as to not endanger the property of another or the life or limb of any person and shall exercise the highest degree of care. The only exception to this rule are vessels that are authorized to race under 306.130. Therefore, it is possible to get a speeding ticket despite there being no daytime speed limit.

Missouri Boat Accident Statistics from 2017

  • Over 50% of all crashes occurred at Lake of the Ozarks within Camden, Miller, Montgomery and Morgan counties
  • There were 169 total crashes in which 91 were injured and 10 killed. Surprisingly, all 10 deaths were from single boat crashes. 30% of all deaths were from falls overboard
  • Drugs and alcohol were a “contributing factor” in 17% of all crashes
  • 78% of crashes happened between May and August
  • Most all crashes occur on Saturday and Sunday between noon and 8pm

What to do after a boat accident / Missouri boat crash reporting laws

Missouri requires the operator of any boat or jet ski that is involved in a crash to render aid to the other boaters as long as it does not endanger the watercraft, crew or passengers. This places an affirmative duty upon the operator to rescue. It also requires the operator to provide his or her name, address or boat registration in writing to any injured person and owner of any damaged property. If the recreational boating accident results in death or injury or damage to property in excess of $500, then a report to the water patrol must be made. Often, we see negligent boaters born after this date who never took a boating safety course. If they did not, this is proof of negligence and inexperience. After you comply with the reporting laws, you should immediately call a Missouri boat accident lawyer.

Reckless Boating Prohibited

Missouri law prohibits any actions that unreasonably or unnecessarily endanger life, limb or property. The statute specifically lists the following as examples of reckless boating:

  • weaving through congested traffic;
  • jumping the wake of another vessel when visibility is obstructed;
  • becoming airborne while crossing the wake within 100 feet of the other boat;
  • operating above a no-wake speed within 50 feet of another vessel or person in the water; and
  • operating at a speed so close to another boat that requires the operator to swerve to avoid a crash

Missouri’s Alcohol Limit While Boating

Missouri law is the same for boating as driving a car. It is unlawful to operate a boat in Missouri with a blood alcohol percent greater than 0.08 grams per milliliter. However, Missouri law does treat consumption while driving differently. While it is illegal to operate a vehicle on any public road irrespective of blood alcohol level, Missouri allows boaters to consume alcohol while driving.

Our Missouri Boat Accident Lawyers’ Experience

Ryan Bradley Boat

Boat accident lawyer Ryan Bradley on his vessel… wearing a Cardinals hat obscured by sunglasses…. Go Cards!

Ryan Bradley is one of the most experienced lawyers and boat operators in the State of Missouri. Every summer Ryan lived at the Lake of the Ozarks and began operating boats as a child. Ryan has successfully navigated boats within Missouri for decades and even transported his vessel from New York to Florida. He has owned half a dozen boats in this lifetime and remains an avid boater. If you were injured in a boating accident, you would be hard pressed to find a boat accident lawyer with more experience.

Free Consultations

We offer free legal consultations on all Missouri boat accident cases that result in severe personal injury or death.

Contingency Fees

We never charge you unless we win. This includes both the fee as well as the expenses of litigating your case. We handle cases throughout Missouri and will travel to meet you.

Ryan Bradley AV Rating

The love of boating… From Ryan Bradley, owner…

Some of my favorite memories as a kid are being at Lake of the Ozarks with my Dad, Mom and sister. We had a 1980 Cobalt 21 foot open bow. I was driving a boat on my dad’s lap at 6 years of age and operating a smaller boat on my own at 10. The Lake will always have a special place in my heart. Our first place was in workmans’ cove at the 7 mile marker. We had that place with two other families and was collectively named “Annacyn” for Annita, Nada and Cyndi, the first names of each wife (Cyndi is my mom). We then had a place at the 19 mm for almost 10 years. A typical weekend consisted of going to brunch at Arrowhead Lodge and playing checkers while waiting for a table. Then, we boated and rode the now-defunct water slides until dinner time. After dinner, we would go to Randy’s frozen custard and ride “The Mouse” roller coaster (shut down long ago). At night, we would hit up Lemans go-carts then the “strip” to play arcade games and batting cages under the big Indian chief.

One of the funniest memories as a kid was getting our first jet ski. It was a Kawasaki X2. For those who are unfamiliar, it is probably the hardest jet ski ever made to ride. My dad’s buddy Phil got one too. We launched them at Alhonna Resort & Marina by our home. Phil was the first to try and tame the X2. For a solid 10 minutes I watched Phil try to get on this ski and learned a few new words that my young ears never heard before. The X2 won and quickly filled with lake water and almost sank.

1990 Formula 36 Express

1990 Formula 36 Express

The first boat I ever purchased on my own was a 1990 Formula 36 Express, pictured right. Since that time, I have owned a number of boats and jet skis and can attest to what “BOAT” actually stands for (boaters know).

I get back to the Lake at least one time a year. The water is familiar. The landscape has changed. For me, I lament the disappearance of the small family-owned restaurants like The Barge, The Clown and Ozark BBQ. Most places are now transformed into entertainment complexes with hundreds of people floating in a pool. It guess its a different kind of fun. The Lake is seemingly a place that has shifted its focus as a destination of adults without children. Boating is my panacea. After a long day of work, nothing beats getting out on the Lake with my kids and heading to one of the few mom and pop restaurants left on the water while responsibly drinking a cold Bud Light.

Dock at the Lake

Our old dock at the 19mm

Boating Resources:

Missouri 2017 Boating And Drowning Stats

National Association of State Boating Law Administrators

Our Results

Our Personal Injury Attorneys have proudly collected TENS OF MILLIONS of dollars in compensation for clients. Below are some of our recent personal injury case results.

$30M Sexual Assault
$14.25M Motorcyle Crash
$10.5M Fatal Wreck
$4M Product Liability
$4M Wrongful Death
$2M 18-Wheeler Wreck
$2M Wrongful Death Trucking Crash
$2M Wrongful Death Tractor Trailer
$1.7M Van Crash
$1M Truck Crash
$1M 18-Wheeler Wreck
$321K Auto Crash
$300K Motorcycle Wreck
$300K SUV Wreck
$225K Truck Crash

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What Our Clients Are Saying

"Overall, I had a great experience working with The Bradley Law Firm!! I would recommend Ryan and his team to anyone. Being involved in a car accident can be quite stressful and dealing with insurance companies can be even more stressful. Having Ryan in my corner lifted a huge burden off my shoulders and made this process much easier for me. They handled everything. Tina is great…she is awesome! She’s extremely patient and kept me informed throughout the entire process. The Bradley Law Firm team is very personable, easy to talk to, and a pleasure to work with."


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St. Louis Lawyer Disclaimer: The legal information offered herein, is not formal legal advice, nor is it the formation of an attorney client relationship. In order for our firm to be considered your attorney there must be a signed agreement between the client and the firm. Any results set forth herein are based solely upon the circumstances of that particular case and offer no promise or guarantee upon the outcome of any other case. Please contact a lawyer for a consultation. This site is not intended to solicit clients outside the State of Missouri or Illinois. The Bradley Law Firm may co-counsel or associate with other law firms around the country at its discretion from initial intake through litigation when it deems appropriate.

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