As of 2017, there were approximately 3,380 commercial divers in the United States working along Great Lakes or an Ocean, with many in Galveston, TX. These divers span multiple industries in Galveston, fulfilling a wide range of jobs and skills. Confronting the aftermath of a commercial diving accident can feel overwhelming and fraught with physical, emotional, and economic challenges. Did you suffer serious injuries or lose a loved one from commercial diving?
By now, you realize a traditional boat accident lawyer or car accident attorney is not the right choice for a serious injury aquatic excursion. Our legal team in Galveston fully recognizes the extreme risks divers face, often more than any other maritime workers. Companies employing divers, including maintenance contractors and petrochemical firms, are legally obliged to follow strict safety measures and diving protocols.
If a careless dive manager, crew member, or vessel owner disregards these precautions, resulting in the injury or death of a diver, it could justify a compensation claim under the Jones Act. Also, suppose you’re a diver who’s been injured or a family member who’s lost a loved one in a serious injury commercial diving accident.
In that case, there may be an option to pursue compensation through direct action against a third party. Even if it’s bad back or neck injuries caused by dangerous conditions, your job duties don’t include permanent disability! If negligence directly or indirectly resulted in the injury or loss, you may be entitled to substantial compensation under one law or another. We are the ones you call with the combined experience
Purpose of This Professional Guide?
This comprehensive resource is for injured workers who dive in Galveston, Texas, seeking financial compensation for maritime injury claims. We bring an unwavering Marine Corps mentality, extensive experience, commitment to your case, and a robust track record proven through our successful deliverables.
Understanding the Legal Framework Protecting Commercial Divers
Numerous maritime and admiralty laws exist to safeguard commercial divers’ rights, safety, and potential compensation after accidents or injuries. Remember that most cases we help in Galveston will be Jones Act-related.
Here are some notable laws divers need to know:
- The Jones Act: Also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, the Jones Act (Seaman specific) offers protections to seamen, including commercial divers. This law empowers them to sue employers for any negligence causing injuries in a Jones Act case.
- Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA): This Act grants compensation and medical assistance to maritime employees, including divers, injured on US navigable waters or in adjoining areas for vessel loading, unloading, repairing, or construction. So, a port or an oil rig could potentially come into play, so you need to speak to a lawyer immediately after you’re hurt working aboard a dive vessel or platform.
- The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) extends certain protections to maritime workers operating on the outer continental shelf, including commercial divers undertaking offshore exploration activities like oil and gas retrieval.
- General Maritime Law: This law includes principles like maintenance and cure, mandating employers to pay an injured seaman’s living expenses and medical care till they reach maximum medical recovery.
- Limitation of Liability Act: In some circumstances, this Act allows vessel owners to limit their liability for accidents or injuries occurring on their vessels, which could impact the compensation accessible to injured divers.
- Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA): Predominantly applicable to railroad workers, FELA may also apply to selected maritime workers, offering compensation for injuries due to employer negligence.
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Regulations: OSHA establishes safety benchmarks for different workplaces, including maritime industry workspaces, to guarantee a secure working atmosphere for commercial divers.
It’s of paramount importance for commercial divers to be aware of these laws and regulations about their rights.
- Your times to file claims and where to make them will make a difference between winning and losing.
- They should also ensure their employers comply with the safety standards and offer sufficient training and equipment, mitigating the inherent risks of underwater labor.
Types of Commercial Divers We Help?
There are several categories of commercial diving, each presenting its unique challenges and risks.
- Saturation Diving: This type of diving requires those involved to reside in pressurized conditions for prolonged periods, enabling them to complete work on deep-sea projects like oil platforms.
- Surface-Supplied Diving: This diving method deploys hoses to supply divers with breathable gases from the surface, making it ideal for diverse underwater projects, including oil platform welding.
- Mixed-Gas Diving: This technique entails divers breathing gas mixes, barring air, to lengthen diving durations at deeper levels. It is highly applicable in deep-sea operations, like those at oil platforms.
- Hazmat Diving: This specialized diving procedure is used when working with hazardous materials or in polluted environments. These scenarios can often arise during oil platform maintenance tasks involving potentially dangerous substances.
- Media Diving: This diving category involves underwater filmography or photography. This can include documentation of oil platform operations. An example would be Discover HD and its excellent diving shows with close-ups of shipwrecks.
- Scientific Diving: Divers in this field conduct underwater research and scientific exploration. This can sometimes involve environmental studies associated with oil platforms.
- Oil Platform Commercial Diving: This specific category involves the repair, construction, and maintenance tasks related to oil platforms, like chemical welding. Specialized diving techniques, welding skills, and a deep understanding of safety precautions are necessary.
The Gulf of Mexico has a substantial number of offshore oil and gas platforms, leading to a significant concentration of commercial diving work. Our lawyers primarily help families and workers involved in these most dangerous types of dive expedition boating accidents.
These could include the following:
- Diving environment
- Depth reached.
It also depends on the specifics of the work undertaken.
Saturation diving is often considered one of the most difficult due to the depths reached and the extended stays required in pressurized conditions, potentially increasing the risk of decompression sickness and other health issues. Therefore, strict adherence to safety protocols is essential for divers engaged in this kind of work, often for hire on an oil rig.
Justice delayed (for a serious injury) is justice denied.
– William E. Gladstone
Why Choose Ehline Law?
Accidents on offshore oil platforms or some other form of underwater observation often result in complex legal problems with high stakes. But we can help an injured railroad worker or Longshore worker involved in hazardous commercial diving working for billion-dollar companies. Keep in mind that each case has variables. For example, a personal watercraft could intervene in a commercial endeavor, leaving injured divers in its wake.
We are more than a boat accident lawyer. We are experts in seeking compensation for novel air, land, and sea accidents, including subs and research vessels. For example, we can handle insurance claims and those brought against an administrative agency. Maritime workers contact us when they’ve been severely injured, and we, in turn, dedicate a significant portion of our practice to helping the downtrodden, injured seaman.
The choice of a boating accident attorney is essential and should not be based solely on advertisements. At Ehline Law, we understand the weight of this choice and ensure that your trust in us is rewarded with relentless support and utmost commitment to your case. The plaintiff always knows our team is ready. From Houston and Galveston to Dallas, Ehline Law is standing tall.
Understanding Offshore Oil Platform Accidents: Causes, Risks, and Implications
Equipment Failure as a Leading Cause
Working in the offshore oil industry brings many challenges and risks, especially for commercial divers. Among these, one of the leading causes of accidents is equipment failure. This typically involves issues with crucial machinery on the oil rigs or the malfunctioning of diving equipment, such as scuba gear or decompression chambers.
Many people are killed as a result of not receiving hospital care unavailable on a typical research vessel. Surgery may be unavailable. A stroke victim or heart attack patient could be in a real pickle here.
Unpredictable and Harsh Weather Conditions
High winds, rough seas, and storms can greatly increase the risks for these workers. Such extreme conditions can result in falling overboard, getting hit by moving equipment, or sustaining severe injuries while diving operations during inclement weather.
The Role of Negligent Safety Procedures and Poor Training
Despite the high-risk nature and sophisticated operations involved in offshore oil and commercial diving, improper training and careless adherence to safety procedures persist. The lack of skill, knowledge, or understanding of safety protocols can result in severe accidents, injuries, or, worst case, fatal disasters.
List of Common Commercial Diving Injuries
Commercial divers face numerous risks in their work; they are more prone to distinct types of injuries.
The following are some of the common injuries associated with commercial diving:
- Barotrauma: These injuries are triggered by changes in pressure, such as barotrauma affecting the ears or sinuses.
- Decompression Sickness (DCS): Also known as “the bends,” this occurs when dissolved gases form bubbles in the body due to swift decompression.
- Oxygen Toxicity: Overexposure to high partial pressures of oxygen can cause symptoms including seizures.
- Hypothermia: Exposure to cold water temperatures can lead to a decline in body temperature.
- Drowning: Despite all safety precautions, the risk of drowning remains inherent in any underwater operations.
- Equipment Malfunctions: Problems with diving gear can lead to incidents and injuries.
- Entrapment: Divers may be trapped by structures, equipment, or other underwater obstacles.
- Trauma Injuries: Injuries can be a result of collisions with underwater installations, equipment, or marine animals and typically include a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), spine injury, or other devastating condition.
- Musculoskeletal Injuries: Repetitive tasks or heavy lifting can cause strains, sprains, and more.
- Electric Shock: There are risks of electric shock in proximities of underwater power sources or electrical equipment.
- Chemical Exposure: Divers might come in contact with hazardous substances, especially in industry-related underwater work.
- Fatigue-Related Injuries: Tiredness can result in errors leading to accidents.
- Wrongful Death: From negligence in managing, training, or diving operations, especially in congested areas where a Wave Runner.
Compliance with safety regulations and procedures is critical to reducing risks in this demanding profession. Having your leg crushed in a barge accident
Official Government Citations and Statistics: Understanding the Maritime Accident Climate in Galveston, Texas
To provide a clear understanding of the risks associated with offshore oil work in Galveston, Texas, a look into some official statistics and citations can offer useful insight. By acquainting ourselves with the facts, we can better grasp the severity of offshore accidents and the level of occupational hazards in the commercial diving industry. First, basic training isn’t cheap and older divers are leaving the trades. The average cost for a newly minted diver is $15,000 and $20,000 in training.
Statistics Paint a Sobering Picture
- According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the period from 2011 to 2017 witnessed 460 occupational injuries and illnesses amongst commercial divers that led to time off work.
- Research in the industry reveals that fatalities among underwater welders are significantly higher than in many other professions, with a fatality rate estimated at a staggering 15%. This finding indicates that the occupation is nearly 1,000 times higher than working as a street cop. According to a recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the fatal injury rates for commercial divers were 40 times higher than the average for all workers in general.
- A study published by the CDC also revealed that between 2003 and 2014, annual fatality rates for commercial divers were nearly 40 per 1,000 workers.
The report highlights the significant risks and harsh realities commercial divers face in their line of work.
The Risky Undercurrents of Commercial Diving: Hazards and Challenges Faced
The associated risks and challenges of commercial diving extend beyond the immediate physical danger. It’s not just about the dangerous depths and hazardous weather conditions. There’s a whole spectrum of additional hazards that divers must navigate.
Exposure to Hazardous Substances
Commercial divers are often required to work in environments with potential exposure to hazardous or toxic substances. These include oil, gas, and various chemicals used in drilling operations. Sometimes, the vessel owner fails to provide the diver or crew members with the necessary safety equipment.
- Prolonged exposure to toxic substances can lead to serious health complications over time, including respiratory problems, skin conditions, and other serious illnesses.
- Fall protection is something divers need in rough seas, too. So, if you were not supported, you are entitled to maximum compensation. Call us to discuss your legal options and speak with an experienced attorney.
Deep-sea diving involves significant changes to the pressure exerted on the body. Rapid pressure changes can lead to potentially serious conditions, such as decompression sickness — commonly known as “the bends.” This condition results from a rapid decrease in pressure that causes nitrogen bubbles to form in the blood, leading to debilitating pain, potential long-term joint issues, and, in severe cases, paralysis or death.
Mental Health Considerations
The mental pressure exerted on commercial divers should not be underestimated with offshore injuries. Long periods of isolation, intensive focus under extreme conditions, and the ever-present danger of accidents can contribute to psychological stress, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Risk of Equipment Malfunction
Commercial diving requires extensive equipment for breathing, navigation, and safety. Any failure in this equipment can have disastrous consequences. Problems might arise from poor maintenance, outdated gear, or a random malfunction. The danger of equipment failure from oxygen tanks to propulsion units adds extra risk to every dive. It’s not just the loss of compression either; severe lacerations,
While commercial diving is undoubtedly fraught with substantial hazards, it’s also crucial to remember that every diver has the right to safe working conditions. This includes proper training, adequately maintained equipment, and a safe, respectful workplace environment. Ehline Law understands these rights, advocating fiercely for the behalf of those who have suffered due to negligence or wrongdoing in the commercial worker commercial diving sector.
Weather Conditions: Pose Significant Risks of Serious Injuries
Another significant contributing factor to accidents on offshore oil platforms is the unpredictability of weather conditions. Tasked with working in an environment often notorious for severe weather, commercial divers are subject to immense pressures that could drastically tilt any operation towards catastrophe. Let’s delve deeper into understanding the extent of risks presented by weather conditions.
Weather Challenges: An Unforgiving Mixture
At sea, conditions can change rapidly and without much notice. Storms can form quickly, bringing with them high winds and towering waves. These hazards pose an even greater risk for commercial divers as they often work at significant depths and rely on surface support and effective communication for their safety.
High Winds and Rough Seas
High winds can trigger rough seas, presenting substantial challenges for commercial diving operations. These conditions can lead to significant movement of vessels and platforms, making it difficult, if not impossible, for divers to safely carry out their tasks. Wind and wave turbulence can also impede the effective operation of support vessels and increase the risk of equipment failure or loss. Moreover, high winds and choppy seas can often make it difficult for divers to reboard their support vessel, posing significant potential hazards.
Storms and Cold Fronts
When a cold front moves through, it brings along wicked shifts in weather, including storms with thunder, lightning, and potentially hail. These abrupt changes can create a hazardous working environment for commercial divers in the water or preparing to dive. A sudden drop in temperature can lead to hypothermia. Additionally, storm conditions can worsen visibility, making it harder for divers to see and increasing the likelihood of accidents.
Gulfs and Hurricanes
The Gulf of Mexico, particularly near Texas, is infamous for its hurricane season. These massive storm systems can halt operations entirely and contribute to hazardous conditions that persist even after the storm has passed. Hurricanes and tropical storms heighten the immediate risks to divers and leave a trail of debris that can be a dangerous obstacle during subsequent dives.
Bureau of Labor Statistics on Water Transportation Occupations
The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides extensive data on various occupations, including those related to water transportation, such as commercial diving. Data shows that the rate of accidents, injuries, and fatalities in water transportation occupations is consistently higher than the national average for all occupations. This highlights the severity and regularity of incidents in the industry.
CDC on Oil and Gas Extraction Maritime Worker Fatalities
According to a landmark study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), injured worker fatalities in the oil and gas extraction industry are a significant concern.
100 Plus Deaths Per Year!
The report reveals that between the years 2003 and 2014, the annual fatality rates for oil and gas extraction workers were alarmingly high, exceeding 100 per year. This statistic emphasizes the high-risk nature of oil platform work and the unfortunate frequency of lethal accidents.
OSHA on Commonly Used Statistics
The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) compiles valuable statistics on workplace injuries and fatalities. According to OSHA data, the oil industry is prone to a significantly high rate of work-related accidents. Injuries occurring in the oil field industry surpass 4,000 cases annually, painting a sobering picture of the dangerous environment within this industry.
Improper Training and Safety Procedures
Despite the high-risk nature of offshore oil and commercial diving operations, improper training and adherence to safety procedures can still be found in the industry. A lack of proper skills and knowledge can result in accidents and severe injuries. Negligence or ignorance about safety protocols can lead to disasters.
Navigating the Legal Process: Steps to Take After a Commercial Diving Accident
Experiencing an offshore oil platform accident is undoubtedly a traumatic event, leading to a tumult of emotions and questions. Knowing what action to take immediately after an accident can feel like navigating uncharted waters.
1. Jotting Down the Details
As soon as the situation allows, you should document the incident thoroughly. Noting down every detail you remember about the accident, no matter how seemingly insignificant, can play a crucial role in your case. It would help to record relevant aspects of your working conditions, equipment used, and your employer’s actions. Witnesses can provide critical corroborative evidence, so note the names of anyone present during the accident.
2. Securing Expert Legal Help
Seeking out experienced legal counsel should be a priority. Engaging an attorney well-versed in maritime law who can gather evidence and guide you through the complexities of the legal process and any insurance claim is vital.
3. Seeking Medical Attention
It is crucial to your well-being, and immediate and appropriate medical examination and treatment are vital to your legal case. Comprehensive medical records that document your injuries and the treatment you receive can play a substantial role in the outcome of your legal case. Following your healthcare provider’s prescribed treatment plan to the letter is recommended.
4. Reporting the Incident
Besides the Coast Guard, you must notify your employer of the accident, following the correct procedures outlined in your employment terms. However, it’s also essential to be cautious during such discussions. Detailed conversations about the incident or your traumatic injuries should primarily occur between you and your attorney to prevent any potential misrepresentation of facts. If you mess things up, proving negligence is more challenging for your attorney. This is why a SWIFT, free initial consultation could mean substantial compensation. Swift, because the longer you wait from when the injuries occurred, the harder it is to obtain a fair settlement.
Detailed Documentation: The Power of Collecting Evidence and Witnesses
Collecting evidence and documenting your incident are assertive and decisive factors in building a robust case. Evidence can include photos of your injuries, the accident location, damaged equipment, etc. If videos are available, they can be instrumental in visualizing and understanding the unfolding scenario. Physical evidence like damaged gear or machine parts can also provide valuable insights.
Witnesses Bring Another Dimension To Your Case
Another crucial component in your case is the role of witnesses. Witnesses, especially coworkers during the incident, can provide invaluable testimony. They can affirm the conditions and circumstances leading to and during the accident. Witness statements can help corroborate your version of events, often tipping the scales in your favor. However, remember that it’s essential to act swiftly as memories can fade over time, reducing the impact of the testimony.
The Role of Medical Records
Obtaining medical records is key. But this entails you receiving medical treatment. If you didn’t, your case is usually worth less. They document the severity of your condition immediately following the accident, a critical factor in establishing the impact of the incident. They trace your recovery, capturing the extensive treatment or surgeries. This helps assert a fair claim for the cost of medical care, the pain and suffering, and any future medical treatments. This documentation will serve as concrete evidence when demonstrating the impact of your injury on the court or the insurance company.
Your Health Condition and the Law
It’s worth noting the nature and severity of your injuries can essentially shape how your legal case proceeds. Certain legal rights and compensations, particularly in personal injury law, are directly determined by your medical status. This nexus between your health condition and the legal proceedings is why we at Ehline Law can’t overstate the importance of diligent medical attention.
Mental Health Considerations
Overlooking mental health aspects is a common mistake victims make in the aftermath of the incident. It’s important to understand that psychological distress, like anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is as significant as physical injuries. Be sure to seek psychological help if you experience any psychological distress. Remember, complete recovery incorporates both physical and mental health.
What are the types of damages recoverable in a commercial diving accident?
In the aftermath of commercial diving accidents on offshore oil platforms, victims are often faced with numerous hardships, from coping with physical injuries to managing enormous medical costs.
That’s where compensatory damages can make a significant difference. Here are the various types of damages typically recoverable:
The most immediate form of compensation awarded in offshore oil platform accident cases covers all medical expenses related to the accident. This includes payments for hospital stays, doctor appointments, emergency room visits, surgeries, rehabilitation, and any ongoing or future medical expenses. This medical expense compensation aims to ensure that victims aren’t financially burdened due to health care costs resulting from the accident.
Loss of Earnings
Injuries sustained in commercial diving accidents often lead to significant time off work or the inability to work in the same capacity as before. As such, compensation can be claimed for lost wages during recovery. Moreover, suppose the injuries are unfortunately so severe as to limit the victim’s ability to work in the future. In that case, compensation can also be sought for the loss of future income.
Pain and Suffering
The nature of commercial diving accidents on offshore oil platforms often results in physical pain and emotional distress. Though these damages cannot precisely be quantified, they are critical to the overall well-being of the victim and, thus, are compensable. The amount typically depends on factors like the severity of the injuries and the degree of physical and psychological pain experienced because of them.
Loss of Enjoyment or Quality of Life
Sometimes, severe accidents can completely alter the victim’s lifestyle or inhibit their ability to enjoy activities they once loved. In these cases, compensation can be sought for the loss of enjoyment or quality of life.
Notification: Communication, Employers & Attorneys
Communicating effectively and accurately about the accident is key to establishing a strong legal claim. It’s important to inform your employer about the incident per the company’s protocols and procedures. However, it’s equally vital to maintain discretion, particularly with specifics, until you’ve obtained legal counsel.
Avoid Offering Detailed Information Initially
While reporting the accident to your employer is necessary, avoid discussing intricate details about the incident or your injuries until you’ve consulted your attorney. This prevents any possible misrepresentation or misunderstanding of facts that could later affect your claim.
Input from Legal Experts Helps Maintain Objectivity
To ensure objectivity and accuracy, your attorney’s input is crucial in these conversations. They’ll help you navigate the complexities of the legal aspects, clarify any misunderstandings, and prevent you from making statements that might inadvertently harm your case.
Contacting Your Attorney- Sooner, the Better!
Getting in touch with your attorney immediately after the accident is prudent. At Ehline Law Firm, we provide immediate guidance to our clients, ensuring your rights are respected from the beginning of the process.
Building a Legal Strategy Based on Compelling Facts
The details you provide about the accident and your injuries form the basis of the legal strategy that your attorney will build. This strategy will play a vital role in your pursuit of justice and compensation. So, accurate and effective communication is key.
Discretion Ensures Protection of Your Rights
Though you might be urged to discuss your ordeal in detail with your employer or coworkers, it is advisable only with your attorney present. This cautious approach ensures that your statements accurately represent the incident and your rights are protected.
Remember, an attorney from Ehline Law is not just a legal expert. They’re your ally, dedicated to guiding you through the challenging times following an offshore accident. Choosing us means choosing a Marine Corps mentality culminating in uncompromising dedication and relentless pursuit of justice.
No Upfront Costs
Ehline Law operates on a contingency fee basis- meaning you won’t owe us until we win your case. We bear the financial risk so you can focus on healing while we work on getting you the justice you deserve for accidents underwater or involving recreational vessels, etc. In one case, our former client’s vehicle had suffered a traumatic brain injury and also needed expensive back surgery. We were able to help offset their medical bills and then later resolve them for just a fraction of the original charges. We could also recapture more lost earnings after rejecting the first settlement offer to this young man.
Schedule Free Consultation With a Maritime Law Firm For Diving Injuries
Ehline Law sets itself apart in handling offshore oil platform accident cases through its comprehensive support for victims. Our team is dedicated to guiding clients every step of the way, ensuring they are not alone in navigating the complexities of such devastating events. The aftermath of an offshore oil platform accident can be a confusing and highly stressful time. But you don’t have to face it alone with us as your tack driver.
With Ehline Law by your side, you are guaranteed dedicated, relentless, and proactive legal representation. We are here to provide the support and expertise you need to navigate the legal process successfully and securely, the just compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free case evaluation to help you build a compelling case. Let us help you obtain a favorable settlement today. Our very best lawyers in Galveston, Texas, will fight with unwavering commitment till the end.