If you've suffered a serious injury in a scuba diving accident, you may be entitled to payment for your medical expenses, lost income as well as pain and suffering.
The scuba diving industry is prominent in Florida, as residents and tourists can enjoy recreational scuba diving and the beauty of natural and artificial reefs year-round. But, as with any adventure sport, scuba diving involves some risks. In the U.S., the Divers Alert Network (DAN) identifies more than 1K diving-related injuries annually, with over 10% of these being fatal, and with Florida having the largest number of scuba fatalities, compared to other U.S. states. Over a ten-year period, scuba diving accidents have been responsible for 235 deaths in Florida, according to DAN's Annual Diving Report. Throughout one year, for almost half of the U.S. fatal dives, the primary activity (when it was reported) was pleasure or sightseeing.
Sean M. Cleary is an experienced attorney familiar with handling numerous types of scuba diving & snorkeling injury or death cases including accidents resulting from:
Dive companies are required to follow standard policies, the U.S. Coast Guard regulations, and procedures to ensure that their scuba divers are safe. All too often, they put their divers’ safety at risk when they fail to follow these required regulations, policies, and procedures. Oftentimes diving accidents are a result of faulty or poorly maintained equipment and inadequate supervision or training.
However, diving accidents are not reserved for recreational divers. Commercial and even professional divers can also suffer injuries due to someone else's negligence. Regardless of the purpose of your diving, The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary can help you fight back against wrongful death, permanent disabilities, and serious injuries that never should have occurred.
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:
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 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:
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 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.
Although today’s scuba equipment is, in general, safe and dependable, faulty and improperly maintained or used equipment does play a role in diver fatality. An injury caused by defective equipment could mean a product liability suit against the company that created the equipment or a negligence suit against the company from which you rented the equipment.
Also, a dutiful dive company should use reasonable care in maintaining its diving equipment and replacing the gear that is no longer reliable or usable. A dive company that does not do so can be held legally responsible for any resulting injuries. The most common issues related to:
Recently, Aqualung announced recalls of its ABS grid replacements, powerline hose replacements, sureLock II weight pocket handles, surface observation signals (S.O.S.), and titan regulators after it became known that the faulty parts might cause equipment failure, leading to drowning. The regulator, or mouthpiece, is a crucial part of the scuba diving gear as it regulates the flow of air from the tank.
Apeks recalled recently its ATX regulators; regulator yoke clamp screws; TX, ATX, and XTX 2nd Stages. The defective Apeks scuba diving regulators were found to be missing diaphragm covers, which could cause the diaphragm to become loose or misplaced, resulting in uncontrolled airflow and drowning.
Another company, Aeris, announced similar recalls. Several of the company's scuba diving regulators and dive computers were found to be prone to malfunction. This defect could pose lethal consequences to divers as the failure of the regulator means uncontrolled airflow to the diver.
Defects found in scuba diving equipment can be fatal to divers. The survivors of equipment-caused diving accidents can be left permanently disabled as they are forced to resurface too rapidly, which may result in disastrous decompression.
Scuba diving can bring with it many different illnesses or injuries, ranging from the ones merely uncomfortable and painful all the way to the ones catastrophic and potentially fatal. Common diving injuries include, but are not limited to:
If you have suffered serious injuries while diving, whether recreationally or on the job, a maritime attorney could help you recover financial compensation for your injuries.
We are located in Miami and have taken on the water-related industry many times before. We can help you recover compensation when your injuries are caused by the negligence of a diving company or another third party. You should be aware that you are entitled to financial compensation to help you recover from the damages you incur, like physical and emotional suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, and a reduction in lifestyle. If you or a loved one have been involved in a scuba diving incident and sustained severe injuries, you need a legal team that will fight on your behalf. Being a scuba diving instructor himself, Sean M. Cleary represents divers just like you and has an excellent track record of cases settled and won in court.
We are experienced in the legal issues that must be addressed after a scuba incident, including state laws that govern negligence and maritime law. Your case will be handled from beginning to end so that you and your family can focus on the important task of recovering from your injuries.