The Missouri Water Patrol dutifully documents all fatalities and accidents they are involved with but incidents regarding minor injuries, or sometimes major ones often incorrectly go unreported. Most boaters, understanding the risks of riding in a boat under siege by large waves, take injuries in stride without reporting anything to Water Patrol. It is quite understandable that if someone falls to the deck, or scrapes a prop, or some other mishap not requiring a visit to the emergency room, the first thought isn't to call the authorities to file a report. While it's easy to think that minor injuries are not worth the trouble to report, federal requirements exist making it mandatory to report accidents to state authorities in the case where:
- A person dies; or
- A person disappears from the vessel under circumstances that indicate death or injury; or
- A person is injured and requires medical treatment beyond first aid (emphasis mine); or
- Damage to vessels or other property totals $2000 or more; or
- There is a complete loss of any vessel.
- An injury occurs causing any person to lose consciousness, require medical treatment, or be disabled for more than 24 hours; or
- Damage to the vessel and other property exceeds $500.
The failure of relevant injury reporting is not only against the law, it limits statistical data available to only involving deaths and major injuries, which are thankfully as rare as anywhere else, but also means there can be no proper assessment for general safety on the Lake of the Ozarks. Minor injuries are often not so minor in the long term, and what goes unreported is actually statistically important. In fact, this deficit in accountability may actually be favoring the statistical assessment that the Lake of the Ozarks is safer than it may actually be in comparison to other lakes where minor incidents are as infrequent as major ones. If we wish to try and address safety issues at the Lake and improve the overall boating experience for all, we must properly account for all accidents, in order to accurately assess safety over time, the effectiveness of regulations, and making informed decisions as to how to improve the situation.
If you hurt someone on your boat to the degree stated, please report it properly to the Missouri Water Patrol @
1-800-525-5555 or *55 (Cellular)