With summer here, everyone wants to cool off. That can mean swimming pools, quiet lakes, or ocean beaches.
With ocean beaches, it's hard not to notice recent shark sightings. There have been shark attacks as well, sometimes resulting in beach closures. Based on the descriptions of the encounters, it seems these often involved smaller sharks. But that's not a comforting thought swimming through water where you don't know what lurks five feet below. But the ocean is the shark's home. We choose to enter at our own risk, believing that the chances of being bitten are not high if we take proper precautions. But there have been legal issues raised when it comes to shark attacks.
People have sued in shark attack cases. It is not common. A shark swims in the ocean, and entering the ocean has that potential risk. There is no basis for a lawsuit in that. But there have been lawsuits where victims of attacks alleged that tour boat operators were not careful in their selection of a dive or snorkeling location. The legal theory applied is one of "negligence." The vacationer argues that the tour boat operator knows the local waters and should avoid putting tourists in a dangerous position. This business of "negligence" is the same legal theory applied in car accidents - https://www.communityabroad.com/turkish/post/1000000050760 But the setting is different.
Other legal theories have been raised in terms of beach closures and preventive measures. Public agencies don't want to be sued by swimmers who claim that a beach should have been closed. When I saw the film "Jaws" back in the 1970s https://youtu.be/PpG3-hLJTwU, I never wanted to go back in the water. One of the things I remember from the movie was the balance between a decision to close beaches for safety... and the risk of economically damaging businesses that rely on swimmers and tourists. If you close a beach, obviously there is no risk.
In many beaches worldwide, shark warning signs are common. That tells swimmers that the danger is out there. There is a legal theory called "assumption of risk." If a person chooses to do something dangerous, the law places responsibility on them. Another legal issue comes up with applying protective measures. The legal concern for beach owners is that a swimmer who was attacked by a shark could argue they relied on the fact that the beach had been made safe for them. They relied on equipment installed to prevent shark attacks. When it comes to sharks, the law doesn't matter much really. The best approach is to do what you can to prevent attacks... https://youtu.be/lnxYsI2Tyz0
The reality is that people cannot sue for shark attacks under most circumstances. It's a given that sharks inhabit the ocean and there is little that can be done to make going into open water 100% safe. The law recognizes this reality. From Sydney, Australia to the coast of Greenland to the beaches of Marmaris, sharks can be out there. https://youtu.be/yJupuS6EDow The best thing is to be careful.
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