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Bends Scuba Diving AccidentAs previously discussed in other sections of this web site, the air we breathe is approximately 79% nitrogen and the rest oxygen and other trace gases. The human body only requires 16% oxygen at surface level in order to survive. When atmospheric air is compressed into a scuba cylinder, we are, therefore, breathing 79% nitrogen and slightly less than 21% oxygen. The problem with the nitrogen is that it can not be “metabolized” or consumed by the body for any constructive purpose and does strange things to our minds and bodies under pressure.

The condition known as the “bends” or “decompression sickness” occurs when nitrogen is compressed upon descent and is not allowed to slowly work its way out through the blood and lungs upon ascent. This causes nitrogen bubbles to form. The bubbles travel throughout the body and do damage wherever they land. This can be the joints, the brain, or anywhere in the body. Therefore, a scuba diving accident involving the bends can be a cause of serious injury or death.

To avoid the bends, the diver must ascend slowly and follow predetermined tables or a computer that has estimated (supposedly through experience and testing) the amount of time a diver can remain at a given depth and return safely to the surface. However, a diver’s physical condition, recent alcohol consumption, dehydration, obesity, fatigue, and body temperature all factor into the equation and can cause the bends. The condition known as the bends actually embraces a wide range of maladies ranging from slight pain in the joints which goes away without lasting effect to catastrophic paralysis or even death.

Almost all modern divers utilize submergible computers that monitor the changes in depth during a dive and inform a diver how much time remains at a given depth before a decompression obligation is incurred. Unfortunately, when divers go on extended vacations, say for a week, and try to get as much diving as humanly possible in that short amount of time, an increasing number of divers have encountered “bends hits” because of residual nitrogen from repetitive diving. A week of hard “partying” and diving can exacerbate the problem. Recently, a number of lawsuits have been filed because the computers used by the divers have allegedly incorporated faulty or unsafe calculations. Although the divers followed the directions of the computer, due to the alleged program errors, the divers became seriously injured from the bends.

From a legal standpoint an analysis of a diver receiving a serious case of the bends requires the evaluation of the technical aspects of the dive and the diver’s training and equipment, as well as the physical condition of the diver and the diving environment. We can help you find out what went wrong.

To speak with a scuba diving accident lawyer, please call us at 1-877-266-3694 ext. 1013 or fill out our Do I Have A Case? form.