Round Window Rupture in Commercial Divers
Commercial divers face a number of different hazards as part of their jobs. While divers take special precautions to try to ensure their own safety while in the water, sometimes an accident happens. When an accident occurs underwater the results can be disastrous. Some of the most common types of injuries are those that affect the ears. Round window rupture is a serious injury that impacts the health of the diver.
Serious Ear Injuries for Commercial Divers
Injuries to the ears are among the most common medical conditions that occur to commercial divers. The ears are greatly affected by pressure changes such as those that happen when diving in deep water. These injuries are called barotraumas because they are caused by barometric pressure changes. In addition to being caused by diving, barotraumas can also occur during other activities that involve a change in pressure such as while flying in a plane or driving in the mountains. Decompression sickness is also a form of barotrauma that specifically affects divers.
The ears are very complicated parts of the body. The middle ear is susceptible to permanent damage, especially when exposed to pressure changes. Relatively minor problems often occur to divers such as superficial vessel ruptures to the external ear canal. These can be troublesome but are usually recoverable. The round window is a membrane located inside the ear. The membrane has several layers and is necessary for hearing. When a rupture occurs, the patient suffers from significant hearing loss, tinnitus, and possibly vertigo.
Diagnosis of Serious Ear Injuries
A commercial diver who experiences a rupture will feel immediate severe pain and discomfort and may vomit. There may also be some bleeding. The significance of the injury will probably not be immediately known until a complete ear examination is performed. Divers should not re-enter the water again until the problem is diagnosed. Water entering the area will often cause immediate and violent vertigo.
Immediate medical care is necessary for round window ruptures. The patient should be kept as still as possible while being transported to the hospital. An otolaryngologist, ear, nose, and throat specialist, is required for proper evaluation and testing. Ruptures to the inner ear are a cause of permanent damage and hearing loss. Additionally, the patient will no longer be able to dive.
Legal Representation after a Round Window Rupture
After a serious ear injury, a commercial diver will probably no longer be able to work. The Jones Act is a federal law that permits commercial divers and others to take legal action against their employer. Before you accept any type of payment from your company, it is advisable to speak with a qualified commercial dive attorney. If the accident was a result of negligence such as improper safety procedures on the part of the company, they may be held responsible for the accident.
Ear injuries such as this type may be considered permanent and disabling. Ongoing medical treatment is often required, which is expensive. You may be entitled to compensation for the damages caused by the injury. These may include medical costs, money for pain and suffering, and lost wages. Contact an experienced commercial dive lawyer to discuss the details of your case.