Personal Injury -- Plaintiff Law
Toxic Torts: Lawsuits for Exposure to Toxic Materials
What is in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the dirt which grows our food, the vaccines we give our children and the products that we use? We hope and trust that our air, water, soil, vaccines and products are clean and free from environmental toxins. However, that is not always the case. Sometimes, companies release toxic substances into the environment, or they include toxic substances in products that we use, and people suffer the serious, sometimes fatal, effects. Often, toxic tort cases are brought because of the use of pesticides, chemicals and building materials. The law recognizes these cases as toxic torts.
In order to recover damages in a toxic tort case, a plaintiff's lawsuit must be filed prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations. Each state has its own statute of limitations during which a tort case must be filed with the court. However, most states do not begin the statute of limitations time period until the injured party knew, or should have known based on his or her symptoms, about the disease or condition.
Once a lawsuit has been filed, plaintiffs in toxic tort cases must prove to a jury that their injuries occurred because of the toxin in question. That means that plaintiffs must prove both that the toxin or chemical is capable of causing the injury that the injured party has and that the injuries are not due to any other factors. In some cases, such as asbestos cases, this is relatively easy. Mesothelioma and asbestosis rarely occur if a person has not been exposed to asbestos. However, plaintiffs may need to provide more evidence for both elements of causation if they suffer from more common types of cancer or other diseases.
The plaintiff must prove its case by a preponderance of the evidence. In order to prevent the plaintiff from meeting that burden, the defendant usually presents evidence that a large number of people were exposed to the same substance but only a few suffered similar injuries and that, therefore, the injuries must have been caused by something other than the chemical in question.
Toxic tort cases are often long and complicated. There is a lot of scientific and medical data that plaintiffs are required to present in order to be successful in a toxic tort case. The defendants often have a lot at stake in defending themselves in toxic tort cases and they have the financial resources to hire an extensive legal team for that defense.
Accordingly, it is important for potential toxic tort plaintiffs to carefully consider their choice of attorneys and to hire someone with the expertise and experience necessary to help plaintiffs reach a potential damage award. Damages in toxic tort cases are often high and can be well over a million dollars. So, if you have been hurt by exposure to dangerous chemicals, pesticides, building materials or other toxins then it is important to contact a toxic tort lawyer to discuss your options.