Depending on the source you consult, it is estimated that there are from 3,000 to 7,000 commercial divers at work in the United States and in its territorial waters over the course of a year. These divers perform a variety of tasks from simple visual inspection of underwater objects to the construction of seabed pipelines that are designed to carry thousands of crude oil or refined petroleum products. On this page, the diving accident lawyer at The Doan Law Firm will review the more common causes of commercial diving accidents and then explain how a commercial diving accident attorney may be able to help injured divers and their families win the compensation that they deserve following a diving accident injury.
Causes of commercial diving accidents
There is an almost unlimited number of factors that can lead to a commercial diving accident. However, many of these factors can be traced to one or more inter-related general classes.
Improper dive planning
Improper dive planning can involve anything from using an incorrect dive table to unrealistic expectations of what a dive mission is intended to accomplish. This category also includes using an inexperienced diver or a diver without training in dealing with specific problems that may be encountered “at depth.”
Failure to maintain dive boat position
If the dive boat or platform is allowed to drift from its position, the diver’s lines may become entangled with each other or even be severed by the platform’s propeller blades.
Gas mixture problems
Gas mixture problems, particularly those that provide too little oxygen to meet the physical needs of the diver or are not sufficient to eliminate carbon dioxide buildup can render even the most experienced commercial divers incapable of responding to an emergency situation.
Due to the fact that many commercial divers work at depths which require substantial periods of time for readjustment to atmospheric pressure, decompression equipment must be maintained at optimal performance levels at all time.
Benefits available to victims of commercial diving accidents
In the United States, any worker who is injured “on the job” is entitled to benefits under a state workmen’s compensation program or under a federal program that is targeted at workers in specific industries such the railroad or the maritime industries. For commercial divers, and depending on the location where the accident occurred, compensation usually falls under the provisions of the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA).
Under the LHWCA, maritime employers are required to provide a set of benefits to employees who are injured while at work. Employers have the option of being “self-insured,” meaning that they administer their injured worker program, or contracting with a private insurance company who administers the program on behalf of the employer.
Regardless of how the benefits program is administered, the LHWCA provides injured commercial divers and other eligible employees with:
- Income protection, based on a certain percentage of the worker’s average weekly wage
- Full payment of all medical expenses arising from the injury
- Payment of expenses related to the victim’s physical and vocational rehabilitation
- Payment for permanent complete, or partial, disability arising from the injury
- In the event of a diver’s death, paying either a lump-sum or a structured settlement to the victim’s survivors
There may be other types of compensation available to injured divers. These additional benefits are best explained by an employer’s or insurance carrier’s LHWCA program representative or by a commercial diving accident lawyer.
Why you need a commercial diving accident lawyer
Any time that you suffer an on-the-job injury, there are certain procedures that must be followed if you are to receive the compensation you are due. This is particularly true if you are covered under a federally-mandated program such as the LHWCA. It is thus in your best interest to contact a commercial diving accident lawyer as soon as possible after an injury. One law practice that manages commercial diving accident cases is the Doan Law Firm.
At our firm, when you contact our maritime and commercial diving accident lawyer to arrange a free review of your diving accident case your first consultation with us is always free of any charges and does not obligate you to use our firm to manage your diving accident case. Should you decide to have us represent you, we are willing to accept all responsibility in preparing your case for trial in exchange for a previously agreed-upon percentage of the final settlement that we will negotiate, or win, for you.