Common Causes of Diving Accidents
The Divers Alert Network groups diving-related injuries into four major categories: preexisting medical conditions of divers, procedural errors, changes in an environment, and problems with equipment. Diving accidents could be prevented if the diving company and the diver exercised greater care. A dive company may have acted unreasonably and negligently in cases such as the following, involving problems leading to injuries or fatalities:
Preexisting Medical Conditions of Divers
An average of 150 deaths arises from scuba diving each year in the United States, out of these, 10% of the divers are not medically fit to dive. While this 10% includes divers' disregard for recommendations to avoid diving, other deaths include those of medically unfit divers with insufficient or negligent screening before diving. The issue becomes, why did an instructor or certifying agency certify an individual to dive if he or she by virtue of health problems presents an unreasonable risk to himself or others? Sometimes dive operators encourage a prospective student diver to sign a medical form denying that a medical condition exists when the dive operator has in fact been told about the condition.
If the diving company does not instruct you how to use your equipment properly, it can be found negligent for any resulting injuries. Likewise, a diving company that hires dive instructors without providing adequate training and making sure they know how to teach others to be safe can also be found to be negligent. Procedural errors can include problems with air supply management, rapid ascents with missed decompression stops, and improper breathing techniques. Running out of gas was listed as the factor causing fatalities in over 10% of cases, and many other cases describe risks taken to maximize dive time and gas.
Unsafe Water Conditions
Unsafe water conditions involve problems such as changes in weather, currents, tide, water temperatures, and visibility. As an inexperienced diver, you are unlikely to know when water conditions are unsafe for diving. Instead, you would rely on the dive operator or dive instructor to determine these conditions. If he or she makes the wrong determination and you are injured as a result, the dive company may be liable.
Other dive-related injuries caused not by the dive company but by other people:
Being Struck by a Boat
A nearby motorboat operator may be inebriated or impaired and can run through the area in which someone is diving, ignoring the diver down flag and striking them with a boat. This can result in death or catastrophic injuries.
Dive Partner Negligence
Dive buddy negligence can cause catastrophic or even fatal scuba diving accidents. An incompetent or inattentive dive partner can make a bad situation worse or cause an accident. From a legal standpoint, assuming the responsibility of being a dive buddy carries with it an implicit requirement to act prudently. For instance, a dive buddy who swims too close and kicks another diver, causing their mask and mouthpiece to come off or knocking them unconscious, can be held responsible for the injuries they suffer.