Hydrogen Sulfide Poisoning

Hydrogen sulfide is a colorless, toxic and flammable byproduct of decomposition of organic matter. It is a gas that can build up in fishing vessels where fish waste storage is improperly ventilated. When the gas cannot escape, it immediately accumulates to poisonous and toxic levels. In heavy concentrations, such as in small or enclosed spaces, it renders a victim unconscious and can result in death very quickly when the central nervous system fails. Seamen who survive exposure to hydrogen sulfide can be left with ongoing pulmonary edema, which can leave the victim unable to work or even kill the victim after time passes.

Vessel owners and operators who allow the accumulation of this hazardous substance can be held liable for operating an unseaworthy ship and for their negligence. Under the Jones Act, employers are responsible for providing seamen and other workers with a safe place to live and work. Failing to ventilate areas, like void space, tanks or holds where fish waste accumulates is an unseaworthy condition and negligence. In many cases, there are no procedures set forth or safety equipment provided and seaman enter the void spaces, hold, tanks without any masks or without any testing to see if the area was safe to enter.

Hydrogen sulfide is not the only chemical culprit in these types of injuries, however. The equipment and sometimes the cargo on these vessels can emit gases such as carbon monoxide that cause asphyxiation and death. Also present on ships are corrosive chemicals that can cause serious burns, blindness and injuries. In many cases, injuries are a result of the failure of the boat owner, operator or employer to provide proper safety equipment and safety procedure when working with the chemicals or in a gaseous environment. These failures are often negligence on part of the employer and render the vessel unseaworthy.

Damages Recoverable

In chemical injury cases, one of the biggest concerns is both current medical treatment and future medical treatment and ability to work. For chemical injuries, injured seamen can recover damages past and future lost wages, past and future pain and suffering and past and future medical bills. If the seaman dies, his family has a wrongful death action and survival action. The family can collect wrongful death damages for loss of support, loss of services, loss of nurturing, loss of training and education, loss of inheritance and any conscious pain and suffering the seaman endured before he died. Over the years, Latti & Anderson LLP has recovered extensive damages for seaman, fisherman and their families who have sustained chemical injuries.

How We Can Help

The maritime lawyers at Latti & Anderson LLP, represent injury victims nationwide, and we know how to build a strong case to obtain the payment victims and their families require. When someone else’s negligence or an unseaworthy condition of the vessel has caused someone’s injury or death from toxic or corrosive chemical exposure, solid legal counsel can help the victim and his family obtain compensation for their damages. Contact us today to find out how we can help.