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Man who aided victims of Missouri duck boat tragedy sues owners

Not all workplace injuries can be seen with the naked eye or show up on X-rays or MRIs. Some are psychological. Those are often much harder to prove than physical injuries are. However, they can impact people for the rest of their lives.

When we think of workplace trauma, we often picture first responders who often deal with serious injury and death, sometimes on a massive scale. However, sometimes people whose jobs normally wouldn't expose them to such things find themselves in the middle of a tragic situation.

That was the case for a Missouri man who, until recently, worked as a paddlewheel boat employee. He filed a lawsuit in the aftermath of the tragedy that killed 17 people when a duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake last month during a storm.

The man was working on the Branson Belle, a paddlewheel boat, when the duck boat overturned. He was one of the civilians who helped pull people out of the lake. Although he reportedly saved several passengers of the doomed vessel, he says he also pulled dead bodies from the lake. In addition to the physical injuries he suffered to his lower back and his arm, he says he became so anxious and depressed after the experience that he had to leave his job.

He is suing the owners of the ride, Ripley Entertainment and Ride the Ducks International. In his suit, he contends that they "knew and/or should have known that these vehicles were not safe for use and especially were not safe for use in inclement weather." The suit asserts that employees, including the captain of the vessel, ignored warnings of an impending thunderstorm: "Rather than cancel the tour and refund the tickets, defendants...decided to try and race the storm, knowing the risk."

The plaintiff also alleges that when modifications were made to the boats to fit more passengers, they were done by people with no mechanical, design or engineering experience.

This isn't the only lawsuit stemming from that tragedy in Branson. A family that lost nine members that day is also suing the boat's owners for $100 million in a wrongful death action.

Whether your injuries are physical, psychological or both, if someone else's actions or negligence caused those injuries, you may be able to take legal action to seek compensation for medical costs, lost wages and other damages.

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