Our Lawyers Help Workers Injured in Commercial Diving Accidents
If you are a commercial diver who has been injured in a diving accident you may have legal rights and protections under various laws and statutes. It is important to discuss the specifics of your case with a lawyer who has extensive experience handling maritime injury claims. The laws are complex and it can be difficult to determine which laws apply to your case. For example, commercial divers may or may not be covered under the Jones Act. Jones Act coverage depends on many factors, including the location of your accident, your relationship with your employer (contractual or independent contractor), the type of vessel or platform your dive originated from and whether other companies or entities may have acted negligently.
Employers often try to convince injured divers that they are not classified as a “seaman” under the Jones Act. They may claim that commercial diving accidents are only covered by a state worker’s compensation program or the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) so that the company can avoid paying the compensation and benefits required under the Jones Act and avoid a potential negligence lawsuit. Always consult with your lawyer before you make any statements to your employer or an investigator about the accident or your employment status or designation. These statements can be used against you later on.
The Dangers of Commercial Diving
Deep sea diving or diving with a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (scuba) can cause serious injuries and medical problems. If not treated properly, conditions such as an air embolism or decompression sickness can be fatal.
An arterial gas embolism (AGE) is caused by an overexpansion of the lungs, which results in torn alveoli and release of air into the pulmonary capillaries. Air bubbles travel through the heart and may find their way to the brain, where they cause symptoms similar to those of a stroke. AGE may be severe, causing the immediate collapse and death of the diver upon surfacing, or it may mimic the neurologic symptoms of decompression sickness.
Decompression sickness, also known as the “bends” or Caisson’s disease is generally thought to be caused by nitrogen bubbles that form in bloodstream and tissues of the body. The symptoms of decompression sickness can vary, but often include headaches, joint pain, vertigo, difficulty in breathing, muscle weakness, tingling or numbness, and extreme fatigue.
Offshore divers in the oil and gas industry are often exposed to dangerous and risky situations. Divers involved in the maintenance of offshore platforms, drilling operations and the building of underwater structures use complex equipment and must receive extensive training and support. The conditions are hazardous and offshore divers can be severely injured in all types of commercial diving accidents, including spills and fires.
Injured in a Commercial Diving Accident? Here’s What You Need to Know
If you have been injured in a commercial diving accident, you need to be careful to protect your legal rights. Your costs will add up quickly, so it will be important to make sure you receive the compensation you deserve. Here are five important facts you need to know after a commercial diving accident:
1. You May Have a Claim Under the Jones Act
The Jones Act protects commercial divers who qualify as seamen. However, as we mentioned above, your employer may try to convince you that you don’t qualify. If this happens, you should not simply accept what your employer tells you. Instead, you should consult with a commercial diving accident attorney about your legal rights.
Why wouldn’t your employer want you to know that you qualify as a seaman under the Jones Act? The answer is simple: The Jones Act allows seamen to recover full compensation for commercial diving accidents in many cases. Therefore, if you are a seaman and your employer was even “slightly” negligent in the accident that caused your injury, your employer is liable for your medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and other losses.
2. You May Also Qualify for Other Benefits
If you aren’t a seaman (i.e., because your “base” is a port or marina rather than a vessel in navigation), then you may have legal rights outside of the Jones Act. For example, a commercial diving accident attorney may be able to help you file a claim under the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA). The LHWCA provides benefits similar to those available through state law workers’ compensation claims for land-based workers. These benefits are available on a “no-fault” basis.
3. It Is Up to You To Claim the Benefits You are Owed After a Commercial Diving Accident
Regardless of whether you have a claim under the Jones Act, the LHWCA or any other state or federal law, it is up to you to claim the benefits you are owed. You won’t receive benefits automatically, and you won’t receive benefits at all unless you assert your legal rights. This can be a challenging process, and it is best to hire an experienced commercial diving accident lawyer to help you.
4. Your Employer Isn’t Going to Help You
Not only isn’t your employer going to help you, but it may actually dispute your claim for benefits. Unfortunately, when it comes to paying for job-related injuries, maritime employers put their interests first. As a result, your employer may use various tactics to limit the amount of benefits you receive (or avoid paying you entirely). If you aren’t careful, you could end up without any benefits for your injury.
5. You Can Hire a Commercial Diving Accident Lawyer at No Out-of-Pocket Cost
If you’ve been injured on the job, you can hire a commercial diving accident attorney at no out-of-pocket cost. You can get a free consultation to find out what claim(s) you can file, and you don’t have to pay anything unless you receive just compensation.
Let an Experienced Commercial Diving Accident Lawyer Protect Your Rights
The Willis Law Firm has over three decades of experience protecting the rights of individuals who have been injured while working on the water. We have represented commercial divers – both inland waters and offshore – in numerous legal actions including decompression injury cases and incorrect air/gas mixture cases.
One of the most tragic diving cases we have handled involved the death of a commercial diver who was sucked into and trapped in a drainage pipe at the IMC plant in Bartow, Florida. Our firm filed suit against IMC for ordering the diver into waters that the company knew or should have known were dangerous and for their negligence in not reducing or stopping the water flow into the drain by the simple construction of a coffer dam. A confidential out-of-court settlement was reached in this case.
Contact Our Jones Act Law Firm Today for a Free 1st Meeting
If you have been injured in a commercial diving accident you should discuss your case with a maritime personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. You may be entitled to bring a claim against your employer, the owner of vessel and other third party companies, including product manufacturers and maintenance companies. Call the Willis Law Firm today at 1-800-468-4878 to schedule your free, confidential consultation.