Toxic Maritime Injuries
One very large segment of the maritime economy involves those workers who work around chemicals. There is a constant influx of chemical products from the Gulf of Mexico into the continental United States through ships carrying materials such as oil, naptha (a chemical that floats on water and emits a toxic, highly-flammable vapor), and similar substances. Vessel workers work near these chemicals on a daily basis. Fortunately, mishaps with these chemicals are rare, but when they do happen, mishaps can be devastating and can kill, permanently mutilate, or disfigure the worker.
If a vessel owner does everything properly, there are many safeguards against chemical injuries. A vessel is supposed to have Material Safety Data Sheets on hand for the product they are carrying. These documents inform crew members as to the properties of the product they are carrying and what safety precautions they should take. Vessels are also supposed to be equipped with hazardous materials equipment (e.g., gloves, respirators, and the like) so that the crew canto safely work around chemicals and in case of an accident be protected from injury. The crew should also be trained with the appropriate hazardous materials training. The vessel should also have a safety manual or other documents detailing how a crew should act around dangerous chemicals, particularly when cleaning these chemicals up in the event of a spill or vessel accident.
Unfortunately, however, some ship-owners fail to provide appropriate training and equipment to the crew. In addition, sometimes ship-owners make poor decisions regarding chemicals, particularly in the cases of chemical spills or accidents. In these cases, the ship’s crew or other individuals may suffer the consequences.
Vessel workers who have been harmed by chemicals may be eligible to receive large damages awards from their negligent employers. For example, in Lewis v. Exxon Shipping Co., a vessel worker was repeatedly exposed to various hydrocarbon chemicals while working on a ship over a 15-year period. Eventually, all of that exposure caught up with the worker, and he developed brain damage and a number of neurological issues, including headache, nausea, blurred vision, and seizures. He was awarded $2,550,000.00 by a court.
A review of chemical injury cases show that verdicts vary depending on the severity of the injuries, if there are any long-lasting consequences, and if the vessel worker did anything to help cause the condition. However, there are many examples of chemical injury cases being resolved for tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, and chemical injury cases involving someone dying being worth millions of dollars.
If you are suffering any injuries as a result of exposure to toxic chemicals, you may wish to contact an experienced maritime attorney. Such an attorney will be able to assess your situation, help you pinpoint where the vessel owner failed to use good judgment, and win the funds you deserve.
If you or a loved one have been injured, Call Carabin Shaw at 1.800.862.1260. We Can Help.