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Duck boat lawsuit: why you shouldn't wait to hire a lawyer

Brian Beckcom

Brian Beckcom


Survivors and surviving family members of the Table Rock lake tragedy should consult an experienced attorney right away about filing a duck boat lawsuit. When you choose to consult an attorney, talking to someone who is experienced in handling wrongful death lawsuits as well as personal injury and maritime lawsuits will be able to provide you with more accurate legal advice than someone who doesn’t have any experience in these areas. While no amount of money will rewind time or bring back your loved ones, a lawsuit is one way you can get justice. A lawsuit allows survivors and loved ones to hold the responsible parties accountable for the harm they’ve caused. A lawsuit may also be the only way to prevent anyone else from being traumatized, hurt, or killed by a duck boat.If you are given a check for burial expenses or medical expenses, do not cash it without consulting an attorney. By cashing it, you may be giving up any right to file a lawsuit against the company. The same goes for giving a recorded statement, signing any paperwork, or talking to the company. If you have been contacted by the company, consult an attorney to protect your legal rights as soon as possible.

Why you should consult an attorney about filing a duck boat lawsuit

You have everything to gain by talking to an attorney now. The sooner you consult an attorney about your legal rights, the sooner you can get justice and prevent anyone else from getting hurt on a duck boat. Time is not on your side. Ripley Entertainment and Ride the Ducks have had time to begin working on their arguments for why they aren’t responsible for what happened to you. They have an army of lawyers working to make sure you don’t pay anything As time goes by, evidence disappears, is altered or damaged, and the company has had time to take legal action to protect themselves from having to compensate you for your losses.If you were on the Stretch Duck 7 and survived the capsizing, you may have a claim for the trauma, pain and suffering, injuries, and mental distress you’ve suffered. If you are a spouse, parent, child, or dependent of one of the 17 victims, you may file a wrongful death lawsuit as well as a survival claim on behalf of the estate of your loved one. A defective product lawsuit may also be filed against the companies by both survivors and the families of the 17 victims.There are three reasons why you shouldn’t wait to consult an attorney about your legal rights and filing a lawsuit against Ride the Ducks and Ripley Entertainment:

1. The companies can file a limitation of liability proceeding to prevent you from getting the compensation you are owed

Under the U.S. Constitution, you have the legal right to be compensated for your losses. However, a law passed in 1851 protects companies such as Ripley Entertainment and Ride the Ducks from being held accountable for their unsafe choices. The Limitation of Vessel Owner’s Liability Act allows the vessel owner to limit its liability to the value of the vessel. The value of a duck boat is considered to be between $100,000 and $150,000. So if you are lumped in with all the rest of the cases, the total amount of money a jury can award is the value of the boat. So you’d get a portion of that $100,000 to $150,000. Meanwhile, Ripley Entertainment, which owns the Branson duck boats, pulls in more than $35 million in revenue each year.It also allows the companies to choose where the lawsuits against them can be filed, which means they can force you to file your lawsuit in a place that sides with companies rather than people. This is called forum-shopping, and it can seriously hurt your chances of getting a fair, unbiased jury in your case. Another way the Limitation of Liability Act hurts you is that the companies can force all of the survivors and loved ones who are filing suits –whether you live in Missouri, Arkansas, Indiana, Illinois, Texas, or New Mexico – to be lumped into one lawsuit. This can also hurt your chances of getting the compensation you are owed.The good news is that if you have hired a lawyer who has overcome limitation of liability proceedings, who has beat the companies at their own game, you may not get trapped by this outdated, unfair law. You will want to ask lawyers you are consulting if they have experience in successfully fighting limitation of liability proceedings.Your attorney may not have to fight a limitation of liability proceeding, depending on the judge’s ruling. A federal court ruled in 1983 that Table Rock lake is “non-navigable” because the lake is used for recreational activities. However, this ruling contradicts other legal precedents that state that any inland body of water touching two states is considered “navigable” for interstate commerce. Table Rock lake touches Missouri and Arkansas. The judge in this case will have to decide which legal precedent applies to this case. If the judge decides that the lake is non-navigable, you won’t have to worry about a limitation of liability proceeding.

2. You have the right to investigate the sinking of the duck boat

You have the power to conduct an independent investigation into the sinking of the Stretch Duck 7. The National Transportation Safety Board has already said its report won’t be published for at least a year. Which means by the time you receive that report, it might be too late for you to file a lawsuit. The companies are conducting their own investigations to figure out ways to convince a jury they aren’t responsible for what happened.To conduct your own independent investigation, you will need to get a Temporary Restraining Order from a judge. Our firm obtains these orders whenever we need access to the evidence, the scene of an incident, and the ongoing investigations. These orders also prevent any evidence from being tampered with, altered in any way, damaged, destroyed, or thrown away. They guarantee us time to conduct a thorough investigation to determine what happened and who is responsible.

3. You need to know how long you have to file a lawsuit.

There are deadlines to filing a lawsuit. These rules, called statutes of limitation, prevent you from being able to get justice after the deadline passes. That’s why lawyers recommend you consult an attorney right away. The deadline for your case varies, depending on what state you live in and what type of claim you have. For example, if you’re filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Missouri, you have three years. But if you’re filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Arkansas, you only have one year. Other states, such as Indiana and Texas, have a two year deadline. If you’re filing an injury lawsuit, some states have two year deadlines, other states have three year deadlines.Whichever state you live in, if you wait until a year before the deadline, or even a few months before the deadline to file your lawsuit, your lawyer may not have enough time to prepare your case. Lawsuits must include facts to back up your claims, and if your lawyers don’t have enough time to gather all the necessary facts, or if crucial evidence has been lost or destroyed in the process, your lawyers may not be able to file your case. The sooner you consult an attorney and have them start working on your case, the stronger your case will be.Also, if the judge does decide the lake is navigable waters and the companies are able to bring a limitation of liability proceeding, you will want your lawyers to be fighting that proceeding from the beginning. If you wait, you could get stuck with an outcome that could have been prevented if you had hired a law firm to start working on your case as soon as possible.

Hiring a lawyer costs you nothing. Don’t wait to get the help you need.

At our firm, we recognize that you may not be ready to file your case. That’s why we will work in the background on your case and not file the lawsuit until you’re ready. This allows us to investigate, gather evidence, and conduct research.In personal injury, wrongful death, and maritime lawsuits, you pay nothing unless and until we win your case. The lawyer takes on all the risk as well as the financial costs of your case. The last thing you need while you’re coping with the aftermath of a tragedy is one more bill. That’s why it is free to consult an attorney about your case.Again, if you are given a check by Ripley Entertainment, do not cash it. If you are asked to sign any paperwork or give any statements, do not do it. By doing either of these things, you may be destroying your ability to pursue an investigation or file a lawsuit against the companies. You may be signing away your legal rights.Here at VB Attorneys, we represent people on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay us a percentage of your settlement or verdict. If we are unable to win your case, you owe us nothing. Our track record of success in wrongful death, maritime, and personal injury lawsuits speaks for itself. We have taken on the world’s largest companies and won. When you contact us for a confidential consultation, our attorneys will go over every detail of your case with you, answer all of your questions, explain your legal rights, and help you make an informed decision about your next steps. To get started now, call us at 877-724-7800 or fill out a contact form on our website.

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