A toxic tort is a legal claim that results from exposure to a dangerous substance. This can include pesticides, chemicals or pharmaceutical drugs. Despite advancements in technology, manufacturing and medicine, these introduce thousands of new products into our lives some of which cause serious illness. At times substances that are thought to be safe are actually harmful, for example asbestos. At times dangerous substances accidentally leak into groundwater or the air. In reaction to this, lawsuits can be filed by victims exposed to or harmed by such substances. Thus, creating what is referred to as toxic tort litigation. This article and subsequent ones will discuss a general overview of toxic tort claims, defendants and common issues.
Toxic Tort Claims
A claim for a toxic tort is where the victim alleges that exposure to a dangerous substance caused an injury or illness. In some instances, such claims are brought in behalf of a group of people, referred to as a class action lawsuit. Or they may be brought forward as consolidated lawsuits referred to as multidistrict litigation or by an individual.
In most cases such claims are a result of the following:
- On-the-job exposure – this is where workers are exposed to toxins. It is often linked with exposure to high levels of toxins over a short period of time or low levels over an extended period of time. A common example of toxic tort litigation includes lawsuits based on on-the-job exposure to asbestos.
- Pharmaceutical drugs – such drugs cause unintended side effects and have been made a subject of toxic tort litigation. For example, the heartburn medication Zantac.
- Home exposure – this is when people breathe or swallow substances in their homes; for example, toxic mold.
- Consumer products – this is when people use products that cause unintended illnesses. An example of such claims is pesticides.