It was a peaceful day. A mother, father, and 2-year-old child were out on their boat on a Central Nebraska reservoir. The dad was fishing, the mom was reading, and the toddler was enjoying his time on the boat.

The family owned a piece of land on the reservoir that they planned to develop into a vacation home. It was a place that they dreamed about and were excited to enjoy. On this day, they put a tent up on their land so that they could enjoy the water.

An Unthinkable Boat Accident

As the family’s fishing boat was drifting with the father’s fishing line in the water, a ski boat moving at slow speed with its nose up in the air ran over the family’s fishing vessel. The father saw the boat coming, but it was too late to move. He yelled for his family to jump.

The collision pushed the fishing boat underwater. The two-year-old disappeared, the mom’s head was pinned against the boat, and the dad was in the water. The ski boat’s motor continued to run.

The toddler, who was wearing a life jacket, popped up on the side of the ski boat. A ski boat passenger saw the child and pulled him to safety on board the ski boat. The ski boat operator killed the engine and the mom was released.

The fishing boat sank, and the dad swam to shore.

The family’s future on the water was over. The accident ruined their ability to enjoy the reservoir. They sold their land and never returned.

How We Fought for the Family’s Fair Recovery

The defendant argued that the family was just as much at fault for the accident as the ski boat driver. Specifically, the defendant argued that:

  • The fishing boat should have been anchored.
  • The ski boat was loud and slow-moving, which gave the fishing boat time to get out of the way.

Attorney Matt Lathrop convened several focus groups. The focus group members said they felt the rules that apply to motor vehicles on the road also apply to boats on the water.  This informed Matt that the general public has a serious misunderstanding of the boating rules.  This could have been a fatal flaw.  If he hadn’t found this out and went to trial, a jury could reach the same erroneous conclusion.  The client’s case would have ended right there.

Matt talked to the Games and Park Commission Warden for the reservoir. The warden explained the special rules for the water, and that the boat with the motor must yield to a drifting fishing boat. The warden further explained that it was permissible and appropriate for a fishing boat to drift. The warden became a key expert witness in the case.

The case was set for trial in Central Nebraska. However, a few months before trial, the defendant’s insurance company settled the case for a confidential amount of money that covered the family’s post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), emotional trauma, and the mom’s medical bills.

Emotional Trauma Matters

The ski boat operator’s negligence resulted in a terrifying situation that luckily ended without serious injuries or deaths. However, the family’s trauma drastically changed their future plans.

These injuries matter, and if you suffered similar injuries in a boating accident, car accident, truck accident, motorcycle accident, premises liability accident, or another type of accident, then we want to talk to you. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation so that we can thoroughly review your claim and fight for your fair compensation.