One of the most remarkable things about the Jones Act is the range of workers it covers, and as maritime lawyers, we may find ourselves talking to a cruise ship can-can dancer and an offshore rig welder on the same day, preparing to represent them as Jones Act attorneys!  Other workers who may also be eligible for Jones Act seaman status are commercial divers.

Commercial diving vessels may be engaged in underwater exploration and surveys, or may undertake pre-construction research work for construction companies.  Crew members of these diving vessels may also qualify as Jones Act seamen. In spite of major advances in marine underwater equipment and technologies, there are still hundred of diving accidents every year, that leave divers seriously injured or even killed. A commercial diver died in such an accident in Florida last week.

The diver was at work near a wreck site, about four miles east of Rodriguez Key when he fell unconscious.  He was brought onto the boat, and the other crews alerted the Coast Guard.  The CG rescue boat arrived at the scene, and personnel administered CPR, but the diver never recovered. Investigations into the accident are still going on.

Commercial divers may suffer a variety of injuries under water.  There may be stings and bites from marine life, and most of the times, these may not be too serious. Other diving related injuries relate to barotrauma injuries that occur because of pressure. In their mild forms, these injuries may result in pain or “squeeze “of the ear and tooth.

Diver fatalities are usually linked to decompression sickness, in which there is a buildup of bubbles.  Symptoms can range from mild ones like pain in the legs, to life threatening ones like respiratory difficulties, unconsciousness, numbness and disorientation.  Any of these symptoms can quickly result in death, if appropriate treatment is not administered quickly. Most diving injuries fortunately can be prevented through proper training of the seaman, as well as by providing him the right kind of equipment.  A lot also depends on assessing water depth and environmental conditions before a dive.

Not all divers will qualify for Jones Act seaman status. Recreational divers or even commercial drivers who are “freelancing” and are not assigned to the dive vessel, may not be included under the Jones Act.  An experienced maritime lawyer can help determine if you fall under the purview of the Jones Act, and prepare your claim.

The maritime attorneys at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers are expert trial attorneys, representing offshore and jack up rig worker, barge crews, tugboat operators, commercial divers, cruise vessel crews, supply boat crews, freighter and tanker crews and other maritime workers who qualify for Jones Act seaman status.  Please contact SMSH Partner Matt Shaffer for an immediate and FREE CASE EVALUATION 24/7 at (713) 364-0723.