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 and common issues.
Common Issues Arising in Toxic Tort Claims
As with any legal case there may issues that may arise. The same is true when it comes to toxic tort claims, even though each case is unique the issues that arise in such cases are very common. Some of these issues that arise are:
- Stale evidence – generally, when a lawsuit is brought years after the initial chemical exposure in question, evidence may be difficult to come by. It’s possible that the documents linked to the original exposure are no longer around, witnesses may be difficult to track. And if these witnesses are found memories about the incident or relating issues may be inaccurate or become ‘fuzzy’ overtime.
- Relying on scientific evidence – toxic tort lawsuits depend greatly on science. The studies linking substances to specific diseases or health conditions either make or break a case. Changes and scientific developments can immediately change the legal arena. For example, a claim saying that certain chemicals cause cancer could fail for years. But once a study linking the chemical to cancer emerges, plaintiffs with the same type of lawsuit will start winning their cases.