A Dive Boats Liability For The Safety Of A Diver

 In Maritime Law

scuba diverWhen I first started diving I never once thought about the liability involved in the sport. Even though most divers sign their life away either at the dive shop or on the dive boat before getting into the water, most divers hardly consider the legal ramifications of some worst-case scenarios. After becoming an attorney, I now see the sport of diving in a completely new light.

What does the long complicated scuba diver release mean for the average diver?

Basically, what most divers sign is called the liability release and assumption of risk form. This document states in pertinent part that the diver understands the risks associated to the sport of diving and that the diver releases the dive boat company and operator from liability should the diver become injured or die as a result of diving. Some of the more informative diving-related releases that I have read include statements that discuss safe diving practices.

However, dive boat operators still have certain responsibilities that they owe to their guest divers.These responsibilities include the following:

  • following generally-accepted diving practices
  • having a seaworthy vessel
  • transporting divers to a dive site that is within the skill level of the diver group
  • assessing the dive site conditions and terminating a dive should the conditions become unacceptable to dive
  • conducting a pre-dive briefing
  • having working equipment on board, including a defibrillator, first aid kit and oxygen tank should a diver surface with any injuries or signs of decompression sickness.

Any diver’s worst fear is becoming injured or bent on the dive. Additionally, the thought of being left behind at a dive site is also extremely troublesome. In a famous case, Carlock v. M/V Sundiver, the Sundiver vessel left a diver in the water after diving and forgot to bring him back on board. The court in Carlock held that this type of situation is not something that a waiver or release can protect a dive boat operator from. Getting left behind is not an inherent risk of scuba diving. As a result of this case, dive boat operators have gone to great lengths to create a system to account for scuba divers. For example, I recently dove in Miami, and the dive boat operator gave each diver a medallion to clip onto everyone’s buoyancy compensator (BC). At the end of the dive all medallions were collected from the divers upon re-boarding the vessel.

Whether an injury occurs below the water during a dive or above the water onboard a vessel,you should consider legal help in resolving any claim you may have against a dive boat operator to cover your medical bills and expenses. Additionally, please keep in mind that if the dive boat operator was negligent, LaBovick Law Group’s dedicated maritime legal team has experience investigating and bringing claims against negligent dive boat operators.

Images courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by think4photop

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