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boulderjohn

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That is an example of a suit filed against a professional company with whom the people had a professional relationship. There was even a signed agreement, which is what was contested in this case. It is not an example of a suit filed against a professional who just happened to be around and with whom the diver did not have a professional relationship.
 

TMHeimer

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Fortunately I spend my life in countries where I don't have to give a rat's ass about ridiculous stuff like this.

Canada is somewhat like that too. But still. Suing KFC because a piece of hot chicken burned your mouth is ridiculous. Suing regarding a dive accident may well not be. I would imagine this has happened more than once, even in Canada.
 

boulderjohn

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A great article to read:

Diving into Scuba Litigation - Maryland Physician / Attorneys, Merck, Heart Attacks, Strokes - Lawyers

Bottom line is that it can get complicated and anyone can be sued for any reason.
Wow! I read the whole thing (which I have seen before) and don't see anything in there that would lead anyone to draw the conclusion you did. The only examples of actual lawsuits it cites are to professionals acting within an agreed professional relationship.

It does go into theory on what might happen (but never has) in a buddy relationship.


If one diver runs out of air, the buddy must share his or her air supply. If a diver becomes tangled in debris, the buddy must assist in extradition. If a diver becomes cramped or incapacitated from exhaustion, illness, or injury, the buddy must provide assistance, without unreasonably placing himself or herself in danger. If a diver is panicking and can be approached safely, the buddy must try to make physical contact and get his or her buddy to the surface. Buddies who panic or refuse to help where it is feasible and safe to do so may be legally responsible for their partner’s injuries.​

Two years ago in Australia, Gabe Watson pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of his wife. In pronouncing sentencing, the judge went beyond the plea deal and said that Watson was guilty of manslaughter because he failed to come to the aid of his wife, who as his designated buddy. There is a thread on this on ScubaBoard, and the attorneys who participated in that discussion were amazed at this because there has never before been a decision that said that anywhere. There was some concern that this would set a precedent, but the attorneys said that under Australian law, a court case settled by a plea deal cannot be used as a precedent.

Key Point: There is not a word or phrase in that entire article that indicates that a professional diver who is not acting in a professional relationship might be sued. If you still believe that this article supports your belief that the "Bottom line is that it can get complicated and anyone can be sued for any reason," please indicate one sentence that suggests that.
 

jar546

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I can sue you for disagreeing with me but it will probably get thrown out. Again, anyone can be sued and have to spend money defending themselves. Getting sued does not mean you are going to court and cases can be dismissed but that still costs money. You can be sued but chances are you won't if you were just along for the ride and acting in an official capacity or being compensated. There is a lot to think about when you read those articles that point directly to outcomes of actual cases.
 

Rhone Man

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This question has been raised many times on different subforums. Each time it comes up, the many opinions (including some from diver/lawyers) lead to the conclusion that there is no absolute answer. Each case is different and decided on it's own merits.

The other thing that should be made abundantly clear is that each country's laws are different too.

But you are right - any hypothetical situation can be flipped on its head with an additional fact. If you are a DM on a fun dive with an OW diver, and they get into distress, would you be liable if you just swam away and did not help? In the BVI, the answer is generally "no". But what if you say that the OW diver was just a kid? Well, that changes it completely - then you are in loco parentis, and you are resposible for the child's safety...

The only consistently truthful answer is: it's complicated. People like to think that laws can be boiled down to the length of a rule book for the game Monopoly, with a couple of simple truths that they can abide by to avoid getting sued. But there is a reason why law school takes 3 years to complete (and even then, you don't really know sh** until you have been practising for several years).
 

boulderjohn

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One of the ways you are protected against that possibility is that in many cases you can counter sue for court costs and even beyond of the case is especially frivolous. In most cases, lawyers are only paid in such suits if they win. A lawyer is not likely to bring a case in which he has no chance of winning and a good chance of having to cough up money instead.

I speak with confidence in my challenge because we have had many such threads over the years, and attorneys have participated in these threads many times. In one case one of them searched the databases that can be accessed by attorneys and could not find anything that would give anyone cause for concern.
 

boulderjohn

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BTW, I asked a reverse question in another thread. What if a DM has a clear professional relationship with a diver. The DM does everything by the book prior to and during the standard recreational level dive. One of the divers has other plans, though, as he has told others before the dive. As soon as the opportunity arises, he bolts toward the bottom, intent on getting in a deep bounce dive past 200 feet in order to set a personal record for depth. The DM, intent upon fulfilling his duties, goes down after him, catching him at about the 220 foot mark. There is something of a confrontation there, after which they ascend. The DM gets badly bent and dies or is incapacitated enough to be unable to continue in his profession.

This has never happened, but the consensus of the attorneys who participated in the thread was that the DM could sue the customer and probably win.
 
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