Skip to Content

When Sudden Storms Arise Who Is Liable For Boating Accidents?

July 27, 2018 | Category: Boating Accidents | Share

The devastating weather-related boating accident in Branson, Missouri was reported on July 19. A forecasted severe storm including high winds caused a tourist duck boat to capsize in a severe storm with high winds. 31 people including children were on board. As of July 20, 17 people were confirmed dead, 9 from one family. One rescued family member said life vests were available, but the captain said they would not be necessary.

When sudden storms arise who is liable for boating accidents - Spivey LawForecasted and sudden storms are also part of Florida’s weather pattern in the summer months. The sun may be out one minute and a storm can roll in quickly. Boat operators must be particularly mindful of current and potential weather conditions. A boat operator is the “captain of the ship”. He or she is responsible for monitoring the weather conditions and taking appropriate actions should the weather change.

A Boat Florida Course provides the following suggestions for boat operators to have a safe and fun outing:

  • Tune a portable radio to a local station that gives weather updates. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) updates weather reports every hour. 
  • Be alert to weather conditions. Accumulating dark clouds, shifting winds, and graying skies all may be indications of danger. Listen for distant thunder. 
  • Track changes in barometric readings. A rising barometer indicates fair weather. A falling barometer indicates foul weather is approaching. 
  • Watch for wind direction shifts, which usually indicate a weather change. 
  • Watch for lightning and rough water. If not electrically grounded, boats (particularly sailboats) are vulnerable to lightning. 
  • Be observant of weather from all directions; however, closely watch the weather to the west, the direction from which most bad weather arrives. 
  • Watch for fog that creates problems in inlets and bays. Typically, fog will form during the temperature changes of the early morning or evening hours and can persist for lengthy periods. 
  • Head toward the nearest safe shore if a thunderstorm is approaching.

Boat operators are required by law to be vigilant at all times. They must constantly monitor their boats and unsafe conditions such as weather changes. The U.S. Coast Guard, in its annual report, says that operator inexperience was the third most common cause of boating accidents. Boat operators must always be prepared for emergency situations.

“Boat operators, whether the boats are pleasure boats or commercial boats, are responsible for what happens on their boats and to their boats. Boat operating companies may also be held personally liable for passenger injuries and deaths even if a boating accident is weather-related if they did not operate their vessels safely and monitor and react to changing weather conditions. Should you or a family member be injured in a boating accident, we at Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A. have the experience to assist you. Please contact us 24/7. There are no costs or attorney fees unless we make a monetary recovery for you,” said Naples Accident Attorney, Randall Spivey.



Naples Accident Attorney, Randall L. Spivey is a Board Certified Trial Attorney – the highest recognition for competence bestowed by the Florida Bar and a distinction earned by just one (1%) percent of Florida attorneys.  He has handled over 2,000 personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout Florida.  For a free and confidential consultation to discuss your legal rights, contact the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A., in Lee County at 239.337.7483 or toll free at 1.888.477.4839,or by email to  Visit for more information.  You can contact Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, Charlotte County at 941.764.7748 and in Collier County 239.793.7748.


Contact Us


Spivey Law Firm Logo Spivey Law Firm 13400 Parker Commons Blvd.
Fort Myers, Florida 33912

(239) 337-7483

Free Consultation