Negligently maintained, equipped or operated dive boats can be a serious hazard to the safety of families simply trying to enjoy a well-loved recreation such as dive boats. As with most areas of profitability, there is accountability that comes with the territory, though sometimes big companies will do all they can to skirt those responsibilities. The dive boat accident attorneys at the Kolodny Law Firm know how to protect the victims of these accidents against the negligence of big companies, and seek fair compensation for the well-being of those involved. A dive boat is a vessel that is meant to provide a means of transportation, and possibly shelter, for divers to get from shore to a dive site when manual means, such as swimming, is counterproductive or highly inconvenient. Though some dive boats can be powered by wind or muscle, many use internal combustion engines, similar to any comparable land vehicle, like a car. Though many dive boat operators maintain compliance in accordance with local regulations, accidents can and do happen regardless. Let’s take a look at the most recent and well-known example of a dive boat accident, which occurred in September of 2019 off of the coast of Santa Barbara, aboard the Conception.
THE ANATOMY OF A DIVE BOAT ACCIDENT
On Sep 2nd, 2019, the dive boat Conception set sail with 34 passenger divers and 5 crew members. The 75-footer was making a relatively routine trip, one it had done many times before. At around 3:30a, US Coast Guards responded to a mayday call, and arrived to find the boat completely engulfed in flame. 5 survivors were counted, all crew. The passengers were trapped below deck, likely asleep as the fire raged, and were not able to be reached before the crew had to abandon ship. The cause of the fire is still under investigation as of May 2020, however one blatant instance of negligence has already been confirmed. Reports have indicated that all crew members were asleep when the fire started, which goes against the regulation of having at least one night watchman on duty aboard diving boats.
LIMITATION OF LIABILITY ACT OF 1851
Truth Aquatics, the vessel owners, filed suit less than a week later under the Limitation of Liability Act of 1851 to, you guessed it, limit the amount of liability they would be held accountable for in this tragic instance. As evidenced in the name of the act, it is an older act meant to help protect vessel owners against the inherent and oftentimes unavoidable risks involved with sea-faring commute and trade. During that time, foreign powers, weather conditions and even pirates were all factors that held sway in how a vessel fared day to day. The act of 1851 was put in place during that time to help keep things fair, and per the act, a vessel owner could limit their liability to the worth of the vessel in question. In the suit that Truth Aquatics filed shortly after the tragedy of the Conception, it stated the vessel’s worth at zero dollars in an egregious and blatant attempt to skirt as much accountability and liability as possible.
It’s instances like this that make it clear that experienced dive boat accident attorneys are needed to help victims seek fair and just verdicts and accountability from big companies. Knowing maritime law and other laws, such as the Limitation Liability Act of 1851 equips the maritime lawyers at the Kolodny Law Firm with the tools needed to provide deep and immediate guidance to those who need it. Call us today.