Toxic Exposure

Maritime toxic chemical exposure can have severe, lasting effects on a victim. It can cause a range of health issues, from respiratory problems to chronic illnesses and cancer. The victim may suffer long-term, even lifelong, health consequences, requiring extensive medical treatment. A toxic chemical exposure lawyer can guide victims through the legal process of obtaining compensation and justice from those who are responsible for this tragedy.

In the following article, we’ll go over toxic exposure cases, including qualifications for compensation and how a toxic exposure attorney can help.

Maritime Toxic Chemical Exposure Lawyers

If you’ve been exposed to toxic chemicals in your workplace, then you may face adverse, life-long side effects that negatively impact your ability to work and enjoy life. Prolonged exposure, chemical spills and other toxic substances can result in lung problems, high blood pressure, skin burns and other problems.

Receiving medical care for these problems can be prohibitive and may not resolve the issue fully; in either case, you should contact a toxic chemical exposure lawyer as soon as possible. The maritime personal injury lawyers at Boatlaw, LLP understand the complex legal system surrounding employee compensation and will ensure that you receive the financial compensation that you deserve.

Call 1 (800) 262-8529 to secure an initial consultation.

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What is Toxic Chemical Exposure?

Toxic chemical exposure is not only limited to obvious chemical spills but can also occur through prolonged exposure to substances like asbestos and lead on ships. Historically, many older ships used asbestos extensively, unknowingly exposing workers for decades. Surprisingly, symptoms of exposure may not appear for years, making it a silent but serious workplace hazard.

Fuel and solvent handling can lead to benzene exposure. Mercury exposure occurs through the handling of old equipment.

The loading and unloading of hazardous cargo are another source, particularly for hydrocarbons and other toxic chemicals. Accidental spills and leaks during transportation or in port facilities also cause exposure to these dangerous substances. Additionally, exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), once used in shipbuilding materials, poses health risks.

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Common Types of Victims in Toxic Chemical Exposure Cases

Victims of toxic chemical exposure are often workers in the maritime industry. This includes shipyard workers involved in building, repairing, and breaking down ships. Seafarers and crew members on commercial ships, fishing vessels, and tankers are also at risk. Dock workers and port facility employees who handle cargoes and perform other duties in port areas can be exposed. Additionally, clean-up crews responding to spills and accidents are susceptible to toxic chemical exposure.

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Where Toxic Chemical Exposure Happens

In Washington, California, Oregon, and Alaska, toxic chemical exposure can occur in ports, shipyards, and on vessels. In these states, major ports like Seattle, Long Beach, Portland, and Anchorage are hubs of maritime activity, increasing the risk of exposure. The busy shipping routes along the Pacific Coast also present exposure risks, especially when transporting or handling hazardous materials. The fishing industry, particularly in Alaska, involves risks associated with boat maintenance and fuel handling. The rugged coastlines and remote areas in these states add to the challenge of managing and responding to chemical exposure incidents.

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Potentially Liable Parties

In a maritime setting, the shipowner might be primarily liable for toxic chemical exposure, as they are responsible for maintaining the vessel and ensuring it is free from hazardous conditions, including toxic chemical exposure. If the exposure resulted from inadequate maintenance or safety protocols, the shipowner could be held responsible for the harm caused to the victim.

The crew or employers could also be liable if their negligence led to the exposure. This includes failing to follow safety procedures, improper handling of chemicals, or inadequate training on dealing with hazardous substances. If their actions or inactions directly contributed to the exposure, they could be held accountable.

Manufacturers of the chemicals or safety equipment used on the vessel could be liable if the exposure was due to defective products. If the chemicals were improperly labeled or safety equipment failed to protect the victim as intended, the manufacturer might be responsible for the resulting injuries.

Lastly, third party contractors who work on the ship and handle chemicals or waste could be liable if their actions led to the exposure. If they did not adhere to safety guidelines or their work led to the release of toxic substances, they could be held responsible for any harm caused.

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Maritime Legal Actions

Under federal laws like the Jones Act, seamen can sue their employers for negligence. This law allows them to seek compensation if they can prove their employer’s negligence contributed to their injury.

Claims of unseaworthiness can be made against shipowners if a vessel is not safe for its intended use, including exposure to toxic chemicals.

When someone is exposed to toxic chemicals due to the actions of manufacturers or third party contractors, they might have the right to file a personal injury claim against these parties based on product liability, especially if the exposure was caused by defective products, such as improperly labeled chemicals or faulty safety equipment.

When pursuing these legal options, victims typically need to file a claim, gather evidence supporting their case, and may need to negotiate with employers or insurance companies. If a settlement can’t be reached, the case may go to trial. Each type of claim has specific requirements and procedures, so it’s often wise for victims to seek legal assistance to handle these processes.

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Potential Damages in Toxic Chemical Exposure Cases

Under the Jones Act and general maritime laws, seamen who prove negligence by employers or unseaworthiness by shipowners can receive compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and future earning capacity. Workers can also receive maintenance and cure, which provides daily living expenses and medical costs until the victim reaches maximum medical improvement, regardless of fault.

For workers not classified as seamen, like those working in shipyards or ports, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act provides a remedy. This Act offers compensation for work-related injuries without the need to prove employer negligence. Non-seamen like harbor workers can receive medical benefits, disability payments, and rehabilitation services.

Product liability claims can result in compensation for the victim’s injuries, medical expenses, and other related losses. And in cases of wrongful death because of toxic chemical exposure, family members can seek similar compensation for their loss. This can also include loss of financial support, funeral expenses, and loss of companionship.

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Steps to Take After Suffering Toxic Chemical Exposure

After experiencing toxic chemical exposure, a victim should first seek immediate medical attention to address any health issues. They should then report the exposure to their employer or supervisor as soon as possible. Documenting the incident and the conditions leading to the exposure is important. It’s also good to keep records of all medical treatments and expenses related to the exposure.

Victims also need to be mindful of the filing deadlines on claims. The law sets specific deadlines for them to seek compensation. If the injury is from employer negligence, or if the ship was not in good condition, they have three years to file a lawsuit. However, for injuries covered under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, the deadline is one year. It’s important for these workers to act within these timeframes to ensure they can pursue damages.

Role of a Toxic Chemical Exposure Lawyer

A toxic chemical exposure lawyer can provide valuable assistance to victims. They can help manage the legal process, including identifying the appropriate laws and claims, like the Jones Act or the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. The lawyer can assist in gathering evidence, like medical records and witness statements, to support the victim’s case. They can also handle negotiations with employers or insurance companies to seek fair compensation. If necessary, a lawyer can represent the victim in court.

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Additional Resources

Hazards in the Maritime Industry – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides a fact sheet on hazard communication in the maritime industry, in alignment with the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS 2012). This document explains how maritime employers must communicate the hazards of chemicals on board, including labeling requirements, the use of safety data sheets (SDSs), and necessary employee training. It emphasizes the importance of maintaining a written hazard communication program and outlines the specific requirements for shipyard employment, marine terminals, and longshoring operations.

Proposition 65 Warnings – This resource, provided by the State of California, discusses the potential exposure to toxic chemicals on boats. According to Proposition 65, certain chemicals used in these vessels can cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm. The website offers guidance on how to minimize exposure to harmful chemicals from boats, including advice on avoiding engine exhaust, choosing alternatives to lead-based paint, and properly maintaining and servicing vessels.

Maritime Industries: Marine Transportation – The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) provides an overview of the marine transportation industry, highlighting the unique work hazards faced by marine transportation workers. This includes physical hazards like noise and ultraviolet light exposure, chemical hazards from fuel and cargo, and psychosocial risks like isolation and bullying. The site also discusses the high rates of injury and illness among seafarers and the efforts to protect these workers.

Hire a Maritime Toxic Chemical Exposure Lawyer

We litigate maritime cases across the country from our offices in Washington, Oregon, and California.

Do not settle for less than what your case is worth. Hire a maritime law firm with a track record of securing millions for maritime workers falling victim to parted mooring lines.

Call 1 (800) 262-8529 to secure an initial consultation for your case.

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