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Posted by Ken Kurtis on March 07, 2007 at 16:06:18:

In Reply to: Personal boats and liability posted by Eric S on March 06, 2007 at 18:50:40:

Good discussion. I'm going to try to check with NAUI & PADI lawayers/insurers about the "sharing expenses isn't for hire" thought. That's contrary to what we've been told over the years. That issue aside . . .

There may be a small misconception going on about waivers.

Waivers - and they're generally held to be valid - will protect you from judgement but not from being sued. (And in the case of "gross negligence" as opposed to run-of-the-mill "negligence," they probably won't help you because you generally can't waive gross negligence.)

Even if you were "wrong," a valid waiver will exempt you from a judgement against your wrongness. However, it still means - once a suit is filed - that you'll have to go to court with a lawyer and to argue the validity of the waiver. This part - including depos, briefs, etc., etc. - you'll have to pay for out of pocket. Probably anywhere from $10,000-30,000 in legal fees might be a ballpark figure depending on how long it takes.

However, what a well-drawn waiver might due in the case of someone injured but not grieviously so, is discourage them from filing suit in the first place because they'll feel they can't collect. Then it's worth it's weight in gold.

But no matter what the outcome, there's a lot of exposure, liability, and risk when you take someone out on your own boat, sort of in the same manner as a charter, and you're not licensed to do so. You need to ask yourself if it's really worth the risk.

Ken Kurtis
NAUI Instr. #5936
Reef Seekers Dive Co. - Beverly Hills, CA

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