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March 2017    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 32, No. 3   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Those Dreaded Liability Waivers

a reminder that the risk is all yours

from the March, 2017 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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The victory of the family who sued on behalf of their deceased father, who had signed a liability waiver absolving a Hawaiian dive operator of responsibility, may not have changed waiver law in favor of divers in other states, as we reported in January. But it certainly prompted many readers to share with us their points of view.

For a diver, perhaps the best thing about a waiver is that if you read it when you sign it, it may encourage you to practice safe diving as well as alert you to making pre-dive checks, not just of your own gear, but of the entire diving scene.

"If you want to dive with a commercial scuba operator, you are going to have to sign a release, and it will probably shield the provider from liability for negligence."

As Bob Cottle (Berwyn, IL) says, "I always sign the waiver, because I know if I don't, they will most likely ask me to get off the boat. But I also try to be aware of everything happening on the dive boat to see if I detect anything that might cause me or anybody else harm. If I do, I immediately bring it to their attention, whether it affects me or any other person on the boat. It's just common sense to speak up if you notice something is amiss before it becomes a serious matter."

Businesses Need Protection

Certainly, businesses do need to protect themselves from frivolous court cases. Jerry Loveless (Las Vegas, NV) pointed out that although he wished he didn't have to sign a waiver, he recognizes that running a dive operation is financially a high risk, low-profit proposition. "Most operators I've known do it much more for love than for money. We live in a more and more litigious society."...

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