Benzene Injury Law

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.

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    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.

    Who is Eligible?

    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.


    Common Benzene Exposure Routes

    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. 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 can be liable for failing to warn the seamen.

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    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 shipped in oil tankers. Workers on oil tankers suffered benzene exposures by inhaling the fumes. Connecting and disconnecting fuel hoses could place benzene vapors in your breathing space. 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.


    Maritime Workers & Benzene – Verdicts & Settlements

    Verdict (California, 2015)


    The Plaintiff was exposed to benzene-containing crude oil and other carcinogens while working aboard ships owned by the Defendant and its predecessors from 1988 to 1996. The Plaintiff subsequently developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Thankfully, at the time of trial, the Plaintiff’s...

    Verdict (Louisiana, 2012)


    The Plaintiff spent four years working as a petroleum inspector on ships and barges that were owned by Chevron, Texaco, and Unocoal during the 1980’s. While performing his normal duties, he was regularly exposed to benzene. In some instances, he...

    Verdict (California, 2008)


    The Plaintiff worked as a seaman for Exxon Shipping Company (later renamed SeaRiver Maritime) for 15 years before he was diagnosed with kidney cancer. He worked on several tankers which transported crude oil and a variety of chemicals. The air...

    Verdict (California, 2002)


    The Plaintiff, age 51, worked as a merchant seaman on the Defendant’s vessels, hauling crude oil from Alaska to Southern California. He endured chronic benzene exposure while cleaning the tanks, bilges, engines, and below deck spaces. He was also exposed...

    Settlement (Massachusetts, 2000)


    The Decedent had worked as a pump man aboard various tankers in the 1970s and 1980s where he was exposed to benzene. In 1994, about 15 years since his last exposure to benzene, the decedent was diagnosed with acute myelogenous...

    Verdict (Louisiana, 2000)


    The Plaintiff was employed by Sabine Towing for 39 years working as a seaman, quartermaster, boatswain, third mate, second mate, chief mate, and master. Over the course of his career, he was exposed to benzene and benzene-containing products being transported...

    Hughes Law Offices is providing these case histories to inform visitors about actual case fact patterns, settlements, verdicts, and rulings. Unless specifically noted, the cases summarized herein were not handled by attorneys at Hughes Law Offices.

    Hughes Law Offices May Be Able To Help

    These cases are complicated undertakings. They often involve multiple legal theories and require many experts. It is vital to have experienced counsel. 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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    Verdicts and Settlements

    Survey of Benzene

    Hughes Law Offices is providing case histories to inform visitors about actual case fact patterns and rulings.
    Unless specifically noted, the cases summarized herein were not handled by attorneys at Hughes Law Offices.
    See All Verdicts



    Helper/rigger/leadman on barges diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia via benzene exposure. Plaintiff exposed to benzene via solvents used to clean tools. Employer provided the solvents. Older versions of Liquid Wrench contained high mixtures of benzene.



    Gasoline tanker truck driver diagnosed with blood cancer following years of benzene exposure at defendant’s premises. Benzene was component of the fuel that he was loading and hauling.



    Plaintiff had a 39-year career with Sabine Towing. Throughout his career, plaintiff held various positions, including seaman, quartermaster, boatswain, third mate, second mate, chief mate and master..



    Able-bodied seaman diagnosed with kidney cancer as a result of exposure to benzene and other hydrocarbons while loading and discharging crude oil and other products, cleaning tanks and measuring tank levels.



    In his 30s at the time, decedent was a contracted tanker truck driver who regularly transported toxic products. As a result, he was regularly exposed to chemicals containing benzene.



    Plaintiff’s decedent had worked as a pump man aboard various tankers in the early 1970s and early 1980s where he was exposed to benzene. In 1994, about 15 years since his last exposure to benzene, the decedent was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML).

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