Snorkeling is probably the easiest and most accessible water-related activity one can enjoy. The weather in Florida, and in South Florida in particular, guarantees that businesses that offer snorkeling is likely to be open every single day of the year. That means two things to the snorkeling industry: Many tourists and residents partake in this activity, and more importantly, people of all ages and all abilities. That is why, when a business offers snorkeling tours, they must abide by certain known and recognized industry standards that have been upheld in court.
Among their duties, a provider must ascertain the snorkeling experience of each and every patron. They must exercise "Situational Awareness" and Foreseeability of Contingencies”. They must continually investigate and ensure the site selection’s safety and the conditions of the snorkeling site so as to warn patrons of certain known dangerous areas or shut down the snorkeling operation if the conditions are not safe enough.
They must exercise due diligence and foresight with regard to unreasonable hazards and danger due to the condition of the water and the likely presence of marine stinging organisms. Some snorkeling tours in the Florida Keys like to advertise the presence of marine life as a selling attraction. Some advertise and talk specifically about the presence of barracuda in the area. While it is a recognized rarity that barracudas attack humans, it has actually happened in the past.
That is why a snorkeling operation must train patrons on all potential hazards and provide signage to alert others. They must conduct an inquiry into their patrons’ watermanship ability prior to the snorkeling experience. That is so they can identify how much training and instruction is necessary before the experience can begin. If the snorkeling experience consists of a large group of people as is often the case, the provider must maintain group integrity and visual observation at all times by a staff member assigned to the site.
With any and all water-activity, an incident can occur. When they do, snorkeling staff must be ready to jump into action. To help them do so in an adequate matter, they must have proper rescue equipment at the site to assist the struggling snorkelers and bring them back to safety. The failure to have a proper crew training program for emergencies and for foreseeable hazards is another violation of the established snorkeling rules. They include lifesaving, rescue, evacuation, and primary first aid response.
Practicing in Miami-Dade and Monroe County, our firm has represented countless individuals who were involved in water-related incidents. Recently our firm represented the family of a young child who was killed by a boat while snorkeling. Our investgiation revealed that the boat was operated by another minor child at the time.
If you were a injured by the negligence of another person while snorkeling or if you were the victim of a staff member’s negligence during a snorkeling tour, contact us immediately at (305) 854-4900.