A legal claim filed for exposure to a dangerous substance, such as pesticides, chemicals, or pharmaceutical drugs, is a toxic tort. Despite the leaps and bounds made in technology, manufacturing and medicine, these have introduced thousands of products into our daily lives, some of which can cause serious illness to humans. Toxic tort claims may be made when substances that were once thought to be safe turn out to be dangerous, such as asbestos. Or when substances that are known to be dangerous accidentally leak into the air or groundwater. Or in instances where new chemicals and drugs result in injury. All these lead to lawsuits that are called toxic tort litigation. This article will discuss some general aspects relating to toxic torts.
When a person pursues a toxic tort claim, they are alleging that exposure to a certain dangerous substance caused an injury or illness. Such claims are often brought on behalf of a group of people, referred to as a class-action lawsuit, or as consolidated losses referred to as multidistrict litigation or by an individual.
Generally, toxic tort claims arise in the following areas:
· Workplace exposure - this is when employees are exposed to toxins, and such exposure may be at high levels for a short period of time or at low levels for a long period of time. One classic example of a type of toxic tort litigation is workplace exposure to asbestos.
· Home exposure - this occurs when people breathe or swallow substances in their homes that are toxic. One such example is toxic mold.
· Consumer products - these are subject to toxic tort lawsuits when people use products that cause unintended illnesses; for example, pesticides.
· Pharmaceutical drugs
- lawsuits occur when pharmaceutical drugs cause unintended side effects. One drug that has been subject to toxic tort litigation is the antidepressant Prozac
While there may be various legal theories involved in a toxic tort case, the plaintiff needs to show the following, that the:
1. Substance was dangerous
2. Plaintiff was exposed to the substance
3. Substance caused harm to the plaintiff
Unlike other personal injury lawsuits, special issues arise in toxic tort cases. Some of these issues include the following:
· Stale evidence - because substance exposure symptoms occur after many years, a lawsuit is brought about years after the initial exposure. As a result, evidence may be hard to come by. This may be because documents related to the original exposure are no longer around, or witnesses are hard to track down, or when you find witnesses, their memories are not the best.
· Relying on scientific evidence - toxic torts rely heavily on science; thus, studies linking substances to certain diseases or health conditions can either make or break your case. With the change in scientific developments comes a change in the legal arena. This can mean that one study linking a chemical to cancer, for example, can lead plaintiffs to start winning large damage awards.
To learn more about the process and options for your toxic tort case, follow the link free attorney consultation near me.