If you are considering filing a personal injury claim for toxic exposure, it is wise to understand the arguments and strategies that are often used by defendants in toxic exposure lawsuits. This article and a subsequent one will discuss the various and common defenses used in toxic tort litigation.
Defendants in toxic tort cases include manufacturers of pharmaceutical drugs, pesticides and chemicals. Such defendants almost always mount a vigorous defense. Further, these defendants are armed with attorneys from large law firms. The reason for this is that losing one toxic tort lawsuit often inspires hundreds of thousands of other plaintiffs to file their own claims. It also must be noted that damage awards can be quite high in toxic tort cases and this is despite the fact of the lawsuit is brought by an injured individual or a group of injured people. At the end of the day there is a lot at stake for defendants in toxic tort lawsuits and as a result they spend large amounts of money and time defending them.
Some of the common defenses used by defendants in toxic tort lawsuits include the following:
Showing that the plaintiff has not proven the elements of the claim - it must be noted that it is the plaintiff’s duty to prove all the elements of each claim in a toxic tort lawsuit. The elements vary depending on the legal claim, however, most toxic tort lawsuits have the following elements that must be proven by the plaintiff:
- the substance was dangerous
- the plaintiff was exposed to the substance
- the exposure caused harm to the plaintiff
In response to the plaintiff trying to show these three elements, defendants can proactively present their own evidence showing that the plaintiff has failed to provide adequate support of the allegations.
Attacking causation - the element of causation is a major battleground; it links exposure and the harm that has been caused to the plaintiff. In some cases, defendants might point to scientific studies that show that a workplace chemical is not linked with a particular disease in the case. In other circumstances, defendants might present evidence of the plaintiff’s exposure to multiple toxins and chemicals which makes it difficult for the plaintiff to prove that a specific chemical caused a specific illness.
Compliance with government standards – in any toxic exposure lawsuit, government regulations play a large role because if a defendant has complied with relevant regulations they will argue that the company cannot be liable for behavior that is in accordance with government defined standards. With respect to negligence claims, compliance with government standards is especially relevant since the plaintiff must prove that the defendant acted in an unreasonably careless way. Defendants can argue that they complied with applicable government regulations and that standards shows that they did not behave carelessly. However, this defense can be used against the defendant if they failed to comply with government or industry standards.
For personal injury claims related to toxic exposure, contact an experienced attorney, Anchorage Alaska for legal advice and representation.