Waivers may not shield OceanGate from lawsuits – legal experts
Liability waivers signed by the five men on board the Titan may not protect OceanGate from likely lawsuits by their families, US legal specialists told Reuters news agency.
“If there were aspects of the design or construction of this vessel that was kept from the passengers or it was knowingly operated despite information that it was not suitable for this dive, that would absolutely go against the validity of the waiver,” personal injury lawyer and maritime law expert Matthew Shaffer said.
Joseph Low, a personal injury lawyer from California, says: “There are so many different examples of what families might still have claims for despite the waivers, but until we know the cause we can’t determine whether the waivers apply.”
David Pogue, a correspondent from CBS News, the BBC’s partner in the US, made the trip with OceanGate last year and reported that the waiver he signed mentioned the possibility of death three times on the first page.
OceanGate could argue it was not grossly negligent and that the waivers apply because they fully described the inherent dangers of the dive, Reuters reports.
The degree of any potential negligence and how that might impact the applicability of the waivers will depend on the causes of the disaster, which are still under investigation.
Neither the BBC nor Reuters has seen the legal waivers the passengers were asked to agree.