Hello Dear Reader,

The Titan Submersible’s doomed sea voyage has held the world’s attention.  For the few days when rescue was still possible, millions of people, me included, followed the story, praying for the safe return of all onboard.   Unfortunately, this story ended in the tragic death of five daring souls, including a father and his teenage son excited for this bold adventure.

The five people on board were alike in some ways. First, they were all wealthy enough to afford the $250,000 dollar price tag for a ticket.

Next, long the journey began, they were told they would be boarding a submersible about the size of a minivan with too little space to properly stand in.  They were told this cramped submersible had limited power reserves and was likely to experience power failures during the voyage down.  They were told this trip would take 10 to 11 hours round trip.  These five people were told all of this and still said ‘Yes! Sign me up, I’m in!’

It takes a special kind of person to say yes to an ‘adventure’ like that.  For these five people, the draw to explore the murky depths of the same ocean that had claimed the Titanic was too great and pulled these adventurers in.

Regardless of these similarities, these five men all led very different lives and they all have loving families who will never stop grieving for them.  When the Titan submersible suffered its catastrophic end, British businessman Hamish Harding, French maritime expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet; Father and son Shahzada and Suleman Dawood and the founder of OceanGate (the company operating the submersible) Stockton Rush all lost their lives.

Aside from Stockton Rush, all the other occupants of the Titan Sub had one more thing in common.  They all signed liability waivers before boarding.

This waiver required passengers to acknowledge risks involved with the Titan’s voyage.  The waiver said the passengers could be injured, disabled, experience emotional trauma or death while on board the submersible.   The waiver stated that the vessel was made from an experimental material not widely used with other manned submersibles.

Lastly, this waiver required them to agree they would take no legal action for any personal injury, property damage or other loss that happens during their trip.

Waivers like these are common when it comes to companies that specialize in risky activities and adventures like skydiving or guided white water rafting tours. They know the services they specialize are risky and they want you to know about it and assume some of the risk.

All of that is fine, reasonable even.  When you knowingly participate in hazardous activities, there is an obvious risk and responsibility you should accept.

Still, the company offering the risky activity is required to provide a standard of service.  If you go up in a plane to skydive and never get to pull the chute because your plane crashes to the ground, you may have assumed the risk of the jump, but you didn’t expect to perish because of a faulty plane engine.

When it comes to the Titan submersible, the company may still be held liable even with a signed waiver.  At the end of the day, a court will weigh the document against other factors including whether the passengers truly understood what they were signing and the ultimate risk of the activity in question.

A court will also look to see if the owner and operator of the Titan was in anyway negligent with his operation and maintenance of the vessel.  If it is found that short cuts were taken or mistakes were made, then OceanGate could still be held liable for the deaths of those onboard.

This case is an example of assumed risk and a cautionary tale for any would be explorer.  Life is a journey my friend.  The things you build, grow, and do lay stones on the unique path you pave through life.  Tread carefully.

If you or someone you love is ever injured due to a business or person’s negligence, please contact my office.  I am an experienced personal injury attorney with a highly skilled legal team who is ready to help in every way we can.

Call 703-761-4343 or 301-949-1515.

Until next time, please be safe, and NEVER text while driving!

Paul Samakow

Attorney Paul Samakow

References:

The New York Times article

The Five Lives Lost in the Titanic Submersible

https://www.nytimes.com/article/missing-submarine-titanic-passengers.html

By Emma Bubola Salman Masood and Victoria Kim   June 23, 2003

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US News Article

What Role Will Liability Waivers Play in the Aftermath of the Titan Sub Tragedy?

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/massachusetts/articles/2023-06-23/what-role-will-liability-waivers-play-in-the-aftermath-of-the-titan-sub-tragedy?src=usn_fb&fbclid=IwAR3D4NR4gXXvfmj8tfb4P5tdmOle_-FZG00AswFAbQsCQzkEhT63P5Ww6wA

By Associated Press   June 23, 2023

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