SCUBA Diving Accidents
Scuba diving is a potentially hazardous sport that carries with it certain inherent risks. In order to dive in the US, people must complete and pass a diving certification course. During the course the risks are discussed and safety issues are addressed. One of the most common risks is the danger of decompression sickness also know as "the bends". While diving, the pressure underwater causes nitrogen from the air the diver is breathing to dissolve into their body. The amount of nitrogen absorbed depends on the depth of the dive and the amount of time spent underwater. If a diver spends too much time underwater and ascends rapidly to the surface, the nitrogen may not dispel properly. If the nitrogen gases remain inside the body, decompression sickness can result in terrible injuries including death, blindness and paralysis.
Most divers will be asked to sign liability waivers and releases from the certifying agent, dive resort, boat owner and operator, and anyone related to the dive. Most courts have upheld these releases reasoning that since diving is a voluntary sport, involving risk, that the diver freely waives the right to sue the parties named in the release.
However, not all courts uphold these releases and their may be negligence that makes the release inapplicable to a particular diving accident.
These types of cases include:
Injuries related to the dive boat and other craft. For example if the diver is injured by the boat itself, failure to use safety flags, unprotected propellers or engines left in gear.
Negligent diving instruction to a novice diver.
Diving with a "buddy" who does not take necessary safety precautions or fails to take needed measures in an accident.
Defective scuba equipment. In one case a diver's estate successfully sued the maker of a regulator that malfunctioned, in another a valve on a BCD failed, resulting in too rapid ascend and permanent disability due to decompression sickness.
If you or a love done has been injured, you should seek legal help as soon as is practical after the accident.
It is a good idea to keep copies of all literature relating to the dive including course materials, any videos made of the dive, police reports, and coast guard reports. Make sure to write down the names and addresses of witnesses present at the time of the accident, make sure the scuba diving equipment used the dive is saved and not tampered with. Do NOT make any statements to an insurer.
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