A woman died yesterday after drowning in a sinking dive boat off Islamorada, Florida Keys yesterday. The commercial dive boat named “Get Wet” started taking on water near the Molasses Reef, while two passengers were trapped in the hull.
The woman who died was one of those passengers. The other passenger, a 28 year old man, was hospitalized but is expected to survive.
As an injury lawyer, I wonder what the man’s injuries were. Hopefully he has not suffered any brain injury from a lack of oxygen. That would be almost as horrible as being killed.
Cases like these are referred to as drownings and “near drownings.” When someone is killed, it is considered a drowning. When someone survives, but is left with injury, it is considered a “near drowning.”
I really feel bad for the victims in this case and for the other survivors who had to endure this traumatic experience. I can’t even imagine how frightful the whole thing must have been.
Here you are, in the beautiful Florida Keys, looking to enjoy one of natures great wonders, and your boat sinks. But thats not all… people are trapped in the hull.
A comprehensive investigation into this matter is needed to figure out what the cause of this terrible accident was. From my perspective as an injury lawyer, there are three basic questions that need to be asked and answered.
First, what was the cause of the ship taking on water? Second, what caused the two passengers to become trapped in the hull? Third, what steps, if any, were taken to render aid to the trapped individuals?
Said bluntly, the dive boat may be held accountable for what happened.
As an injury lawyer I can tell you that all those waivers they make you sign before taking a dive trip mean absolutely NOTHING.
Under Florida law, a person or business cannot waive away their duty to act without negligence. Now granted that scuba diving is a risky sport and there certainly is a measure of assumed risk, it is not unreasonable to act under the assumption that the boat was sea worthy!
It is one thing if you go scuba diving and do something reckless underwater and get hurt or killed. The commercial dive boat company cannot force you to be safe or control your every move.
However, they do control how their boat is operated, where it is driven, how it is maintained, and what they do to help people on their property who need help in emergencies.
Dive boats, of all property owners, have an extra duty to be extra dilligent because they operate a business known for accidental drownings.
What emergency oxygen devices did they carry? For a few hundred dollars, you can purchase a gasoline operated oxygen machine that attaches to a floating donut and a long hose with a regulator at the end of it. Wouldn’t it make sense to keep a few of those on board “just in case.”
Regardless, a successful injury lawsuit has three elements:
1) Must be able to prove damages. In this case, that is easy for the 2 victims.
2) Must be able to prove liability. This still needs to be investigated because the facts of what happened are not yet completely known.
3) The defendant must be collectible. As a commercial dive boat, there is almost certainly a sizable insurance policy that will pay for the losses in this case.
Given the extreme injuries and the horror of this case, the victims and their families need to retain legal counsel as soon as possible. Handling this case the right way will be necessary to obtain the best result possible.
Again, as an injury attorney, my perspective in this article is from a legal standpoint.
At the end of the day, my heart goes out to those who had to live through this ordeal. I am sure they are all shaken up pretty badly, even if not physically injured.