The Jones Act provides that any seaman who shall suffer personal injury in a course of this employment may, at his election, maintain an action for damages at law. 46 U.S.C. & 688.
Under the Jones Act, a seaman’s employer is responsible for any damages if the employer’s negligence caused the seaman’s injury.
Regarding the seaman status, it is well established that admiralty courts have applied this status to commercial divers. Therefore, to qualify as a seaman a commercial diver must meet the following requirements: (i) contribution to the function of the vessel or to the accomplishment of its mission and (ii) connection to a vessel in navigation (or to an identifiable group of vessels) that is substantial in terms of both its duration and its nature.
Regarding negligence, an employer’s liability in a negligence action brought by an employee extends to all personal injuries arising during the course of the seaman’s employment, but proof of negligence is essential to recovery.
Here, a dive company would have to perform some acts with reasonable care under like circumstances. If it does not, and its negligence causes damages, the dive company is responsible for the resulting damages.
Examples of diving company negligence include improper decompression tables or improper use of decompression tables, improper medical treatment or improper equipment and inappropriate equipment.
Finally, it is also important to note that a commercial diver is obligated to act with ordinary prudence under the circumstances. A Commercial Dive and Maritime Lawyer would be familiar with the issues involved in these types of cases.