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Maritime Workers

Maritime Workers & Benzene

Maritime workers on our navigable rivers, lakes and high seas have historically endured benzene exposures. The mariners who suffered those benzene exposures are at an elevated risk of developing Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) and Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS). If you’ve been diagnosed with AML or MDS, you can file a number of different claims.  

For instance, under the Jones Act, you can sue your employer for negligence and recover damages for medical costs, lost wages and pain and suffering. Admiralty/unseaworthiness claims can be brought against the owner of the vessel on which you worked. In addition, if you were exposed to benzene containing products such as fuels, chemicals, solvents, paints or degreasers, you can file a product liability claim against the manufacturers of those products.

Jones Act benzene maritime

These claims are available to seamen, helpers, riggers, leadmen, quartermasters, boatswains, mates and masters. Basically any member of the vessel’s crew. For the Jones Act to apply, your vessel must be used, or capable of being used, for maritime transportation. In addition to oceangoing ships – tugboats, commercial fishing boats, pile drivers, dredges, scows, and barges are all considered vessels under the Jones Act. Certain oil drilling rigs, including semisubmersibles, jack-up rigs, and tension leg platforms are typically covered under the Jones Act. Workers on oil production platforms that are fixed to the seabed are generally not covered by the Jones Act.

Jones Act benzene maritime

The benzene exposures for the men and women working in the maritime industry differ by job, craft, and the type of vessel.  

Many individuals working and maintaining ships, tugboats and barges regularly used benzene-containing products, such as solvents. Solvents were used to wash tools and equipment, but workers also used solvents to wash their hands. Unfortunately, benzene can be absorbed through the skin. The shippers can be held liable for their lack of training and failure to supply protective equipment. And the product manufacturers are liable for failing to warn the seamen.

Seamen on oil tankers were exposed via their freight. The benzene content for the various products hauled by oil tankers varied. For instance, crude oil contains up to 7% benzene, gasoline once contained up to 5% benzene and airplane fuel was up to 10% benzene. Even pure benzene was sometimes shipped in oil tankers. When workers on oil tankers were connecting and disconnecting fuel hoses, they suffered benzene exposures by inhaling the fumes. When they gauged the storage tanks to measure the product levels, they suffered benzene exposures. And when they cleaned the tanks after unloading, once again, they suffered benzene exposures. These chronic benzene exposures can lead to blood and bone marrow cancers, like AML, MDS and Multiple Myeloma.

Jones Act benzene maritime

These cases are complicated undertakings. They often involve multiple legal theories and require many experts. Having experienced counsel is vital. While you focus on your recovery, let us do the work needed to prove your case. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with AML or MDS after a career in the maritime industry, call 1-800-BENZENE to speak with a benzene lawyer today.

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