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Injured While Diving From a Vessel


There are different levels of experience when it comes to boating. While some may have extensive experience, including operation of a vessel for many years, others may have next-to-nothing when it comes to experience with the marine environment. It is in this environment where passengers are injured by diving off of a recreational vessel. In Florida, no doubt one good reason to own a recreational vessel to is partake of being able to anchor around Florida’s plentiful and beautiful sandbars. The Florida coastline is estimated to be 1350 miles by NOAA, but including inlets and inland bays, NOAA says that Florida has 8436 miles of coastline.

In the excitement of pulling up and preparing to anchor up to a sandbar area, passengers with no experience may believe that the water depth is much greater than what it actually is. This is especially true on the West coast of Florida. In many locations on the East coast of Florida the depth of the water drops off quickly and not far from shore, but on the West coast of Florida along the Gulf of Mexico the water level in many places is very shallow. TV commercials and ads for Florida tourism may add to the idea to just “dive in” but this is where many serious and lifelong injuries occur. Instant paralysis can occur—and unfortunately has occurred, when a person dives from a vessel into water of unknown depth. The water looks inviting, it’s hot outside, everyone is having a good time, the music is playing, and a passenger jumps into water that is very shallow. These cases produce extraordinary damages and injuries.

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Another often unrecognized issue is that in the saltwater there can be any number of underwater obstructions that are not visible. And, though the U.S. Coast Guard is charged with removing or at least marking hazards to navigation, an oyster bar or old anchor or a long ago broken of piling left at a sandbar is not going to be removed by the Coast Guard nor any other governmental agency in most situations.

Is a Captain Responsible for Injuries in Diving From a Boat?

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Again, many of these types of cases where a person dives from a recreational boat result in the worst of possible injuries. Death, paralysis, and severe injury are associated with these types of boating accident cases. In most instances the injured person is not going to be able to recover from a landowner, except under unique circumstances. (e.g., failure of landowner to remove impediments from a known used beach area) However, the captain of the vessel can bear responsibility for failing to warn of the depth of the water and preventing his/her passengers from making a mistake that can change that passenger’s life. Being an operator of a vessel, a captain, comes with tremendous responsibility under maritime law. The captain is more than just the usual owner of the boat who casually invited a few friends and their acquaintances out on the boat one day. Maritime law views the captain as being responsible for the safety of his/her passengers. This would include, when pulling up to a sandbar and seeing a passenger about to dive into shallow water, to intercede and keep the passenger from doing so. A large percentage of recreational boats are equipped with depth-finders which tells the captain that he/she may be in only two or three feet of water. Or, the captain may have visited that same sandbar area, knows it is shallow, and knows you cannot allow a passenger to jump in from the boat. The captain simply cannot sit by and watch a passenger dive head-first from his/her vessel into water that no one knows what is under the surface.

How Do I Pursue a Dive Injury Case Against a Boat Captain?

First, you have to choose the right attorneys. We are maritime attorneys. That means we handle boating injury cases and are specialists at this unique area of law. If you choose an attorney that only handles a boating accident case once every five years then you may be disappointed to find out the attorney does not even know what law that applies to your case. Nor even what is the statute of limitations on your case.

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Second, you should pursue your case as quickly as possible. This is because information related to your boating injury case can disappear quickly. For instance, important GPS data on a recreational vessel can be over-written with further use of the vessel. It can also be deleted if the vessel owner/captain is not placed on immediate notice to save the data. On the same day a client signs with us to represent them on their boating accident claim a ‘NOTIFICATION” letter goes out to all at-fault parties. It is the seriousness with which we view your case and pursue your boating accident case for you; we are moving on your case the same day you sign with us. It is critical that the names of witnesses, their contact information, law enforcement officers are contacted for information, photographs must be preserved, video preserved, and the vessel(s) involved, have to be preserved to retrieve the data that can be the difference in your recovery. Do not wait to pursue your boating accident case because evidence in your favor may disappear.

In accidents involving diving from a vessel maritime law presumes that the captain will take steps to protect the passengers on his/her vessel. A captain of a vessel should be vigilant to prevent injuries to his/her passengers. A captain should not allow a passenger—again, many of whom may have no boating experience—to dive off of his/her vessel. If such an injury has occurred, or another boating accident injury has occurred you have located the right attorneys for your case. Our maritime law firm is located in Tampa Bay and have been prosecuting boating injury cases throughout all of Florida for 25 years.

We are the boating accident law firm. Specialists for 25 years.

Call Us Now at 888-B-O-A-T-LAW. 7 Days / 24 Hours

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