Liability of going pro?

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lord1234

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So every thing I have ever heard of advancing to the DM or higher levels is that "you're liable forever". Is that true? Are you liable outside of a classroom/teaching environment?

Can someone tell me liability in the following scenarios:
1) I am on a boat with 5 other people. 1 of those people is my buddy. Of the random 4 people, someone has an accident and dies. Am I liable?

2) I am on a fun dive with a friend. He decides to bring along a stage bottle, not for deco, but just to have extra air to play with at depth for longer bottom time. I am an instructor in decompression diving, and stage handling, but this is not a class, just a fun dive. He doesn't have a card that says "stage training" or some such. Am I liable?

3) I am on a fun dive with two friends. We are scootering. 1 friend has lots of experience on a scooter. Another has minimal experience/it is their first scooter dive. Neither has a scooter card. Minimal experience diver has an accident. I am an instructor scootering, but this is not a class, just a fun dive. He doesn't have a card that says "scooter training" or some such. Am I liable?

I understand that this is the United States, and one can be sued for any reason, at any time. But the real question is...am I liable?
 

Hawkwood

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Will you accept a one word answer?
 

lord1234

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Will you accept a one word answer?

If there is one, and some sort of concensus around it. I have always though the answer is "NO"
 

Steve_C

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Did you arrange the trip?
Are you trip leader?
Was the fact that you are a DM/Instructor mentioned to the accident person.
Were there other folks around in charge or were you the most qualified one.
Did you contribute to the accident in any way?
......
 

lord1234

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Did you arrange the trip?
Are you trip leader?
Was the fact that you are a DM/Instructor mentioned to the accident person.
Were there other folks around in charge or were you the most qualified one.
Did you contribute to the accident in any way?
......
1) No
2) No
3) Yes they know
4) I was the most qualified one
5) I was a dive buddy. Wouldn't this same question be asked of any dive buddy?
 

Phil_C

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I'm sure the "lawyers" will chip in with a US perspective, but from a UK perspective you are only liable to the extent that you have a "duty of care".

If you are responsible for the organisation, booking, planning, selecting dive teams and buddies etc. then you could be held liable if you failed to act sensibly and competently within your training and experience if any act or omission by you could be considered to have contributed to the accident.

Equally if you try to act beyond your training and experience and an act or omission leads to an accident you could be held liable.

But if you are just another diver on the trip, with no other responsibilities, in other words 'just another paying customer' then generally you have no more responsibility than any other diver. You have a duty of care to act within the limits of your training and no more.

This does mean more might reasonably be expected of you because you are better trained, for example you could not expect someone who has not been trained to perform a controlled buoyant lift, but if you have been trained then it would be reasonable to expect it, but it does not make you more liable or blameworthy if something goes wrong.

So to answer your questions I would say -
1) - No
2) - No
3) - No - BUT - potentially if you did or said something that could be interpreted as encouraging the diver who had an accident to do an unsafe practice then you could be on sticky ground. In my opinion here the difference here is you are partnering with the scooter diver and by doing so could be interpreted as influencing or affirming their decision to do something unsafe because you are an instructor on scooters (if they knew this) - they might assume what they were doing was safe because you said nothing to discourage them.

Phil.
 

decompression

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Generally, unless you are acting in a professional capacity,( teaching, guiding etc), you're considered no different. Just because you have higher training there is no legal culpability. There have been several cases (none I can recall specifically) that have tried to persue this liability, non of which I recall being successful. However, outside of North America this isn't necessarily the case.
 

markmud

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Hi lord1234:

The answer to your specific questions are (IMHO):
  1. Yes and no!
  2. Ditto...
  3. Ditto...
Read this article from Undercurrent:
Dead Diver’s Wife Sues a Shadow Diver Star: Undercurrent 03/2015

Richie was found not liable; however, the course of his life was altered for several years. He paid lawyers. He gave interrogatories. He gave depositions. He prepared for trial. He endured the trial. He endured multiple appellate court hearings. Tammy threatened to appeal to the Texas Supreme Court.

Here is something you may not know: Lawyers charge money and the filing and service fees aren't cheap. Richie had to pay for all of that.

He was found not liable, but the process cost him his time and his money.

I am a former tug boat and fish boat captain. Administrative law judges have ruled that I have a duty of care when I am on a vessel as a passenger. Specifically, I need to voice my opinion when I believe there is an unsafe situation. I make sure that I have witnesses when I notify the captain of an unsafe situation, even though I may be embarrassing the skipper.

I have not found many blue-water captains within the dive boat industry. I have found a few in SoCal. And that's it.

I am very careful!

I will not gain certain certifications nor will I become a SCUBA pro--I won't do those things as I need to protect my net worth.

If you decide to become a pro, go all in. Don't dabble. Pay your dues to your association, pay for your insurance, work through an established LDS, and cover your ass every time.

I will do everything in my power to help someone. But, if a diver dies because I am not trained to the hilt, well, tough crap for him! He chose the wrong person to have an accident around. If that happens, I will be sorry his demise.

I am a recreational diver and nothing more.

markm
 

sheeper

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one word answer... "maybe"

the issue is really can/will you be sued? If you are a pro and have professional INSURANCE you'll be sued because there is money to be had. Can the plaintiff win is another story. But it can cost hundreds of thousands to defend.
DISCLAIMER: i'm not a lawyer but have some experience in such things
 

abnfrog

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Generally, unless you are acting in a professional capacity,( teaching, guiding etc), you're considered no different. Just because you have higher training there is no legal culpability. There have been several cases (none I can recall specifically) that have tried to persue this liability, non of which I recall being successful. However, outside of North America this isn't necessarily the case.
jay you are talking about Canada (im an exspert witness here ) not the us its all different there
 
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