Florida Diving Accident Attorneys

Accidents that occur during recreational diving are an aspect of personal injury law that is generally provided for under state laws.  Diving accidents that occur as a result of participation in occupational risks may also fall under state workers’ compensation, tort and negligence claims, but are generally afforded some special protections under federal law.  The Florida personal injury attorneys at Podhurst Orseck are well-acquainted with the remedies available to you after a diving accident and experienced in dealing with the jurisdictional aspects of a case,.

Scuba diving is an activity that can be unforgiving both during and immediately after a diving incident.  Because of the inherent physiological conditions scuba diving subjects the body to, an accident that starts out with a faulty piece of diving equipment at depth can easily develop into an emergency ascent and trip to a hyperbaric chamber.  Emergency transportation costs can skyrocket when an injury occurs away from properly equipped treatment centers.  The luxury of deciding whether to accept or reject medical treatment is rarely an option in many instances, and medical expenses can pile up quickly.

Recreational Diving Accidents

Diving related claims can stem from causes that are not readily apparent.  Insufficient or negligent medical screening prior to dive activity may clear a diver for the activity when they are actually medically at risk.  Slip and falls on a dock, injuries caused by improperly maintained dive boats and diving equipment failures can lead to tortious injuries wherein the dive organizer was negligent.

Dive boat and dive tour operators are professionals and are held to a high standard of responsibility in the execution of their operations.  Certified dive masters, instructors and rescue divers are trained and licensed and equally held to a higher level of responsibility.  Examples of accidents that can be the subject of dive activity litigation include:

  • Inadequate supervision of inexperienced or lesser experienced divers
  • Air exhaustion emergencies
  • Drowning deaths or near-drowning injuries
  • Negligent emergency response attempts
  • Negligent operation of a dive vessel (striking a diver in the water or causing an injury onboard while maneuvering the vessel)
  • Diver abandonment (also known as “boat drive offs”)
  • Negligent or inadequate training
  • Negligence contributing to diving emergencies including decompression sickness (“the bends”), hypoxia, middle ear barotrauma, nitrogen narcosis or paralysis
  • Nitrox and gas blending accidents
  • Diving equipment product liability

Commercial, Technical and Public Safety Diving Accidents

Professional divers are subject to a significantly greater degree of risks due to their job function and frequency of their exposure to the activity.  Professional operations routinely subject professional divers to the risks of explosions, burns, disfigurement and dismemberment.  Injuries sustained on the job can immediately impact many aspects of work for a diver, including the ability to continue working in that profession.

Federal laws including the Jones Act, the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA), the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) and guidelines set in place by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) protect professional divers.  Divers who qualify as “seamen” under the Jones Act are afforded broad protections which extend to all times and places where they serve their employer – on land or at sea – and which even protect the diver on their way to and from their place of employment.

Knowledge of how these laws apply and how to advocate most effectively for our clients in these cases is the cornerstone of our success. Podhurst Orseck has distinguished themselves in these types of matters.