Each day leaps in technology, manufacturing, and medicine introduce thousands of new products. Unfortunately, sometimes these products hurt people.
When toxic substances, such as pesticides, chemicals, and pharmaceutical drugs, cause illness or injury, a legal claim known as a toxic tort may result. One of the biggest challenges in these cases is proving causation.
Negotiating with the Defendant
Although the plaintiff’s injuries are the primary focus of toxic tort cases, they can also include property damage and lost income. It is the job of the toxic torts lawyer to ensure that these losses are reflected in the lawsuit.
A successful toxic tort claim is based on the theory that the defendant violated their duty of care, which directly or proximately caused the plaintiff’s injuries. A defendant’s breach of duty can be established in many ways. Still, a plaintiff must show that they were exposed to the toxic chemical or environmental condition that resulted in their injury.
Toxic torts are particularly challenging to prove because the connection between exposure and a negative health outcome may only appear months or even years after exposure. This is often a problem because state statutes of limitation, or the deadlines for filing personal injury claims, begin when an adverse effect is discovered.
Toxic torts can also be filed against pharmaceutical manufacturers who include harmful toxins in their drugs or for doctor misconduct that causes a patient to develop or worsen the illness. These claims are typically filed as mass torts or class action lawsuits because they affect many people. Attention to how bodies are positioned and represented in these litigations is essential. It is a crucial component of the legal geography approach to toxic tort cases, which aims to understand how pollution or toxicity impacts communities and individuals.
While any tort case requires that the plaintiff prove that an injury occurred, this requirement becomes more difficult in toxic tort cases. In certain situations, injuries are claimed to have occurred due to exposure to harmful chemicals or materials. It can be quite challenging to establish a connection between the exposure and the person’s illness, especially when the injury takes years to show up. Proving the cause is even more challenging as pinpointing the exact chemical or substance that caused the injury or which company produced it is often impossible.
Plaintiffs must therefore rely on experts in medicine, toxicology, epidemiology, and the environmental fate and transport of chemicals to establish liability. This can be a challenge, as defendants often contest the credibility of the plaintiff’s expert witnesses. To combat this, the courts use a four-part test known as Daubert to determine whether expert testimony is admissible.
This issue is particularly complicated in environmental contamination cases, as they can affect large populations and may be impacted by various factors. This is why many toxic tort cases take class actions rather than individual suits, allowing the attorneys representing the victims to pool resources to increase their chances of success. This approach also allows for more detailed documentation of each person’s injuries and illnesses, allowing the attorneys to present stronger evidence that poisons cause the client’s problems.
Many people are familiar with criminal law from the media or third-hand accounts, but much less common is tort law, which governs civil litigation between private parties. A toxic tort lawsuit is a civil claim filed by individuals or groups against private companies that produce harmful substances or chemicals. These substances may leak into the air or groundwater, affecting unsuspecting residents.
As with other personal injury claims, they were proving causation is the main challenge in a toxic tort claim. This is because the illnesses caused by these chemicals manifest years after exposure. Documents can be hard to track down, witnesses may disappear or become forgetful, and memories fade over time. These problems are compounded by the fact that these cases heavily depend on scientific studies. New studies can quickly change the legal landscape by linking a particular chemical to a health condition or disease.
A skilled attorney can help you gather and present expert testimony that shows a clear connection between your injury and exposure to a toxic substance. This is especially important in cases involving exposure several years ago since these cases often have statutes of limitations that require plaintiffs to file a claim within a certain period.
The first step in a toxic tort case is to gather the evidence. This includes oral evidence (statements made in court by witnesses) and documentary evidence, the paperwork submitted to support a claim. The documents may include medical records, test results, and other documentation of the plaintiff’s injuries or illnesses.
Toxic exposure cases often involve dangerous toxins released into the environment, such as asbestos in pharmaceutical products, pesticides in homes or rental apartments, and hazardous waste that companies dump improperly. However, dangerous chemicals can also result from negligent manufacturing practices or unsafe premises.
It can be difficult to prove that the toxins caused an injury or illness because symptoms may appear years or decades after exposure. Therefore, having an attorney collect multiple medical opinions regarding the causes of these symptoms is important.