Sharks are terrifying to anyone who enters ocean waters, which is one reason why Hollywood has taken advantage of those fears to create equally terrifying movies. There are some who are not as fearful, and they venture out into the open water to see all marine life, including sharks. Those who choose to swim next to sharks know that there is a risk for attack.
At the end of November, a federal judge denied a motion to dismiss for a defendant in a shark bite case. This maritime tour takes four people underwater to swim specifically alongside sharks. The plaintiff was attacked by a shark during the tour, but stated that it occurred because the dive instructor hosting the tour was drunk. The instructor told the plaintiff to feed the creature, and that is what led to the shark biting the plaintiff. Under federal maritime law, her lawsuit will continue forward.
Exploring the Legal Issue
The issue that the defendants brought before the court was whether the case should be heard in federal court due to maritime law. They argued against the idea of trying the case in federal court, saying there was no issue between maritime law and what occurred during the dive tour.
For their claim to survive, it must pass the relationship test. This means that the defendant must show there is no connection between the incident and maritime law.
The court decided that there was a connection between the two, stating that the defendants benefited by collecting fees from tour goers to travel via boat into open water, then the dive instructor was supposed to lead the cage-free divers into the water for sharks – the plaintiff’s injury depended on that relationship established between the parties. The plaintiff would not have participated in the event, had the instructors and service not been offered to her.
The defense may have lost their motion, but the plaintiff still carries the burden (as with all personal injury cases) to show that the defendant’s negligence was what led to the injury. In her case, she claims that the drunken dive instructor fed bait and attracted the sharks to the group, which is then what prompted the shark to bite the plaintiff’s calf.
The defense argues against the statement by denying the dive instructor’s drunkenness, but also by stating that the woman did not suffer from a shark bite; instead, they claim it is a laceration.
It will be up to the jury to decide who is responsible, and if the dive instructor was drunk or not.
Injured by a Tour Guide? Talk to a Lawyer
Tour guides are required to provide their paying customers with a standard duty of care. Therefore, they are responsible for the tour participants’ safety. When their negligence leads to an injury, they could be liable for damages.
If you were injured during a tour, contact the personal injury team at Carey, Danis & Lowe Attorneys at Law to explore your options. Schedule a free consultation toll-free at 877-678-3400 or request more information online.