SCUBA diving accident - Checklist
After assuring that
victim(s) of the scuba diving accident receive prompt
medical treatment for their injuries, there are certain
things that should be done in order to assist the victim
with the proper documentation and preparation of his/her
case. The diving company, dive instructor and/or
certifying agency will usually have an insurance
investigator on the scene within 24 hours of a serious
accident to start the preparation of their legal
defense. Certain international diving organizations have
actually made it a practice to refer scuba diving
accidents to their lawyers within 24 hours of the
occurrence so that they may open a file and start case
preparation. The scuba diving accident victim would be
best advised to seek out legal advice as soon possible.
With this in mind, there are certain preliminary actions
that you should take:
by no means a definitive list of actions to be taken.
You should consult an attorney as soon as possible in
order to determine your rights. It would be wise to
consult with an attorney who has experience in handling
personal injury cases and especially diving cases. You
may contact my office at (617)996-2500 or fax us at
(954) 252-3818. If you don't ask me for legal advice,
please ask someone else.
contact us for
more info .
- Maintain a copy of
any promotional literature that you have reviewed or
received relating to the dive.
- Obtain the name,
address and home/work phone numbers of any witnesses
that you believe observed any portion of the dive.
- Obtain the name of
the divemaster, dive-buddy and instructor.
- Many dive
operators attempt to capitalize on your dive by taking
a video which they offer for resale at the end of the
dive. If this is the case for the dive, it is
imperative that you obtain a copy of this tape.
- Obtain a copy of
the police report regarding the accident.
- Obtain a copy of
the coast guard report regarding the accident.
- Have someone
photograph injuries as soon as possible.
- Have someone
photograph the scene of the accident. Videotape it if
possible. Make sure something like a newspaper is used
to enable you to correlate the photo/video to a date.
- Secure all scuba
diving equipment that was used on the dive and make
sure that it is not altered in any way. If a fatality
or a serious injury is involved the investigating
officer may take possession of the equipment for
testing. Try to find out where the testing will be
done and keep informed of the results. Make sure to
take possession of the equipment (or find out who did
take possession) as soon as possible.
- Secure photographs
or videotapes from any person in your party that
participated in the dive.
- Get the names,
address and work/home phone numbers of any other
persons who were in the vicinity who took photos or
videotaped any portion of the dive preparation, dive
and/or dive aftermath.
- Obtain all
documents that were given as part of dive instruction.
- Retain all
documents that were signed by the victim or obtain a
copy of all documents signed by him/her.
- Often an insurance
representative or attorney will contact the victim of
an accident in an attempt to obtain a written or
recorded statement. Understand that they are not
taking the statement so that they can assist the
victim - they are on the other side of a lawsuit. Do
not give a statement without consulting an attorney.
- Retain all records
of payment for the dive, dive training,
transportation, and/or dive course (charge card slip,
checks, written receipts).
- If the accident
resulted in the death of the diver the potential
defendants (through their insurers, attorneys and
doctors) invariably assert that the death was the
result of a "spontaneous cardiac disrythmia." A
spontaneous cardiac disrythmia is an extremely rare
event in real life, but an extemely popular defense.
If an autopsy is performed you must make sure that the
specimens are properly maintained and that you get a
copy of the full written report. If organs are
harvested, you should obtain all pathology reports.
You should seek a competent medical opinion from a
specialist as soon as possible.