Commercial Scuba Diving and Decompression Sickness
Commercial diving is a dangerous industry, so workers must trust boat captains, dive supervisors, and coworkers to ensure the safest possible work conditions. One of the most common dangers of commercial scuba diving is decompression sickness, a condition that can develop when divers ascend from their dive too quickly.
When recklessness or neglect results in a commercial diving injury, like decompression sickness, workers may be due financial compensation for resulting damages. Attorney Michael E. Shelton has a thorough understanding of the Jones Act that protects maritime workers. He is prepared to help commercial divers in the Houston, TX, area pursue the compensation they are due following a diving injury.
What Is Decompression Sickness?
Decompression sickness, often referred to as the bends, is a term that describes injuries that occur when a diver experiences a rapid decrease in the water pressure around them. This most commonly occurs when divers go to significant depths for an extended period of time, and then ascend from their dive too quickly.
As outside pressure decreases during a diver’s ascent, nitrogen that has accumulated in the blood cannot be exhaled quickly enough, and instead forms bubbles in the blood and tissues. These bubbles can expand and injure tissues, block blood vessels, or trigger small blood clots.
Decompression sickness symptoms do not always develop right away. Sometimes symptoms are apparent within an hour, while other times it can take upwards of six hours for symptoms to become noticeable. Common symptoms of decompression sickness include:
- Difficulty speaking
- Joint pain
- Weakness in the arms or legs
Complications of Decompression Sickness
Severe cases of decompression sickness can result in life threatening or fatal complications. Classified as Type II decompression sickness, advanced cases of this illness can cause organ damage (including damage to the brain, spine, and/or lungs), paralysis, or death.
Decompression Sickness and Employer Neglect
Commercial diving is known to be a dangerous industry, but maritime workers are still afforded certain protections. Employers are required to do their part to make conditions as safe as possible for their workers. Types of employer neglect that can lead to decompression sickness for divers in the Houston area include:
- Failing to provide adequate diver training
- Diving to excessive depths or staying in a dive for an extended period of time
- Neglecting to take decompression breaks during the ascent
- Providing divers with faulty or poorly maintained equipment
- Taking too many dives in a short period of time
The Jones Act and Compensation for Damages
The Jones Act, or the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, is a federal statute that regulates maritime commerce in U.S. waters. As part of this act, maritime workers are protected from injuries that they sustain while working. Much like workers’ compensation, the act gives workers the right to pursue financial compensation for damages stemming from a work injury. Unlike workers’ compensation, the Jones Act does not set a limit on the amount of money that can be rewarded when neglect results in an injury, so victims can purse compensation for the full extent of their losses, including:
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Loss of wage earning potential
- Medical expenses
Contact Attorney Micheal. E. Shelton
If you have been injured or suffered illness as the result of a commercial diving incident, you may be due financial compensation for your losses. To learn more about your legal options, send us a message online or call our Houston law firm at (713) 807-0700 to schedule a consultation with attorney Michael E. Shelton.