An In-Depth Account of Potential Injuries Sustained by Maritime Divers
One type of maritime employee who is often overlooked is the maritime diver. These brave men and women risk their lives on a daily basis to service boats and oil rigs underwater. The ability and training of these divers make them highly sought after in the maritime industry.
Unfortunately, while divers can make an attractive salary, there are many dangers that come along with the job.
Diving accidents vary in both type and severity, depending on the accident’s circumstances. The undersea environment increases the risks of any diving injury. All too often, victims are trapped underwater and require other divers to rescue them. This can take time—time these victims may not have.
Some of the most common and dangerous injuries for divers are:
- Cuts, suit punctures, and crush injuries. Floating debris or falling objects can easily strike divers who are focused on their work. Remember, scuba suits do not allow for a 360-degree field of vision; you’re lucky if you have a 90-degree window.
- Internal injuries. Getting trapped in or under complex pipeline systems and machinery can cause compression to the organs and bones, leading to internal bleeding.
- Decompression sickness (the bends). When a diver ascends from a high-pressure area of the water, he must be careful that he decompresses slowly to allow his body to adapt to the pressure changes of the water surrounding him. When he ascends too quickly, the rapid decompression causes nitrogen bubbles to form in his blood. These bubbles can cause tremendous pain and cramping in the muscles and joints, as well as numbness, nausea, and paralysis.
- Barotrauma. Similar to decompression sickness, barotrauma occurs as a result of barometric pressure differences. When a diver ascends or descends a body of water, the pressure exerted on his body changes: the deeper he goes, the more pressure exerted. As the diver experiences these changes, the gas filled areas in his body (lungs, inner ear, sinuses) must compensate for those changes by exerting internal pressure, according to the physical principle called Boyle’s Law. When the space fails to equalize the internal pressure with the exerted external pressure, the tissues surrounding the space begin to inflame with fluid and blood. As a result, the engorged tissue fills the area and displaces the gas. This is known as barotrauma.
- Arterial gas embolism. An arterial gas embolism occurs when bubbles form in the arteries, blocking blood flow. When a diver suffers the bends, nitrogen bubbles can find their way into the arteries, blocking blood from passing through. When a diver suffers from barotrauma, gas bubbles can find their way through damaged tissues into arteries. The effects of an arterial gas embolism can be fatal if blood flow isn’t restored to the brain, heart, and other organs.
- Suffocation. When divers’ equipment is faulty or damaged, oxygen levels can become dangerously mixed and O2 gauges can misrepresent the amount of air that divers have left in their tanks. The kind of malfunction can lead to divers’ suffocating in their suits before they have time to ascend.
Although all of these injuries may not prove to be fatal, they can all result in medical bills, lost wages, and both physical and emotional suffering. Fortunately for these brave divers, maritime workers like them are afforded special protection under the law.
Maritime workers are entitled to special forms of financial compensation after on-the-job injuries. Federal statutes, like the Jones Act, help to ensure that injured maritime workers (including divers) aren’t left alone in the abyss of insurance rejections and recovery bills. However, diving injury claims aren’t always crystal clear, and without proper representation, you may feel as if you’re disappearing into that abyss after all.
Once you are ready, you should see an attorney who has experience in these types of matters. You need an attorney you can trust to file the appropriate paperwork, put pressure on the relevant authorities, and ensure that your voice is heard. In other words, you may need an attorney like Steve Lee. With 38 years of experience representing people like you, he will provide the guidance and aggressive representation you need to secure a strong settlement.
For a free consultation about your claim, call our office today at 800-232-3711 and let us help you breathe more easily.