Scuba Diving Injuries
John O’Connell represents victims of scuba diving and maritime accidents in Hawaii. He got his early training in scuba diving in 1978, and started litigating scuba diving cases in 1991 when a newly married spouse on his honeymoon embolized and died during a PADI Discover Scuba Diving Experience while vacationing in Kona, Hawaii. Since then he has worked on numerous scuba diving and rebreather accident cases in Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Florida, California and New Hampshire.
He has also litigated maritime claims of crew members, Jones Act seaman, scuba workers, Hawaii residents and tourists who have been injured during recreational and commercial diving activities in Hawaii. While "releases" or "waivers" appear to exempt the tour operator from liability, he has obtained recent decision voiding the snorkeling/scuba release and waiver.
Based on his experience he has put together a checklist of What to do if a SCUBA incident has occurred.
What to do if Involved in a Scuba Diving Accident
Usually, if a there is a death or serious injury on or under the water, the insurance company or dive certification company has an investigator on scene within 3 days. They are there to gather information to help the person or company that did something wrong.
You should do the same.
Equipment gets used, photos get deleted, witnesses drift away and memories fade. The earlier you get helpful information the better.
There is no better evidence than a video or photo taken when the incident happened. Just about everyone these days takes cellphone photos and video. If you are still able to take pictures of the injuries or the area please do so.
TV stations will try to get a videotape of the scuba diving accident. Witnesses post videos online. Tour companies often take a video that they will try to sell you at the end of the tour. Try to get as many of these as you can before they disappear.
Other Information you should gather include:
- Names and phone numbers of the witnesses, divemaster, dive instructor, dive buddy and other dive participants
- The Police Report, Ocean Safety Report and Coast Guard report when ready
If this was a serious injury or fatal dive the scuba diving equipment was probably confiscated and taken somewhere to be tested. Find out where and whether they are affiliated with the scuba shop.
Don't let the equipment get returned to service unless tested and any information copied from the dive computer.
If a death was involved an autopsy is usually conducted. Ask for the report.
One other thing you may get a call from an insurance company or claims person who wants to talk to you and get you to make a recorded statement. Remember that they are not doing so to help you and you are under no obligation to do so.
These are just some of the things you should be thinking about.
Of course, you should consult an attorney as soon as possible to learn more about your rights.
We are ready to help. Please call us. Our initial consultation is free.