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Snorkeling Accident Near Key West May Require a Maritime Lawyer

Jason R. Margulies

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Jason R. Margulies is a board-certified admiralty and maritime lawyer, as well as a co-managing partner of Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. After serving as a law clerk for the firm starting in 1992, Mr. Margulies joined the firm as an attorney. As a board certified and experienced trial lawyer, Jason handles personal injury and wrongful death claims. He has also handled hundreds of cruise ship rape and sexual assault cases.

On Sunday, September 20, a Florida woman died after snorkeling in the Florida Keys. Kim Ellen Schwinge, age 61, was on a snorkeling excursion Sunday morning near Key West. One of her family members looked over and noticed she was having some difficulty breathing while snorkeling.

She was then taken to crew members aboard a catamaran where they began CPR. Schwinge was then taken to a nearby hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.

Dive Shop and Equipment Manufacturer May Be Liable for Snorkeling Accidents

Snorkeling can be a fun and great activity to do at any age. However, as with any recreational activity in the open seas, there are always some safety measures that should be observed. Our snorkel and scuba diving accident lawyers have seen and handled countless horrific diving accidents using 165 years of combined experience in maritime law.

In just the past four years, snorkeling deaths have nearly doubled. Researchers have one common theory as to what may be increasing the risk of snorkeling and believe it could be due to the full-face snorkel masks. However, no conclusion has been made as there are many other factors that can lead to a tragedy while snorkeling.

If the snorkeling excursion was put on by a dive or snorkeling operator, there may be liability, as dive operators are required to use reasonable care for the safety of their divers. Equipment malfunctions are also potential claims in regards to diving accidents.

In addition to equipment malfunctions, snorkeling accidents are often due to a failure of the dive operator to follow proper safety procedures, like properly instructing snorkelers before they get in the water, implementing a buddy system, or properly evaluating the conditions in the area for novice snorkelers. Equipment failures are also sometimes a cause or a contributing factor.

Types of Snorkeling Accidents

About 11 million people, just in the United States, go snorkeling each year. Snorkeling in Florida accounts for about 4.24 million visitor-days per year. While snorkeling may be fun and adventurous, many things can go wrong and there are several factors that may contribute to a severe accident or even worse, a sudden death.

Factors that commonly cause and contribute to these incidents include:

  • Drowning
  • Choking
  • Lack of Ventilation
  • Suffocation
  • Weather Conditions
  • Equipment Failure
  • Unsafe Excursions
  • Boat Accidents

An Experienced Maritime Attorney Is Needed to Effectively Handle Snorkeling Accident Claims

You may be asking yourself, “How and why does Maritime law apply to snorkeling accidents?” This is because these incidents involve bodies of navigable water and therefore Admiralty jurisdiction applies.

Since 1971, Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., has recovered over $300 million and successfully handled over 3,000+ maritime cases, for all types of accidents and injuries at sea.

LMAW has been widely recognized as the national leader in maritime injury litigation — recently, the firm has been named “Lawyer of the Year” ® in Admiralty and Maritime for 2020 as well as named to “Best Law Firms” ® by US News & World Report. Several of our attorneys are also multi-year recipients of “Best Lawyers” ® honors and “Super Lawyers” ®.

If you have questions about a potential maritime law claim, please contact us for assistance. We are here 24/7 to provide comprehensive, high-quality advocacy that our clients can trust.

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