According to the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute a toxic tort is a personal injury caused by exposure to a toxic substance. Such toxic substances include asbestos or hazardous waste. Victims of exposure to such substances are able to sue for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. This article will discuss a basic overview of toxic tort law and the different types of toxic exposure claims.
Toxic tort law links to issues relating to the exposure to toxic substances. Some of the most common forms of toxic substances are:
- Industrial chemicals
- Lead-based paint
- Pharmaceutical drugs
- Environmental toxins
Toxic torts are said to be a subset of personal injury law and often result in mass torts.
Legal action may be taken by an individual or groups of persons exposed and injured by exposure to dangerous substances. Such persons also suffered damages as a result of this exposure. Therefore, in order for a plaintiff to succeed in their toxic tort claim it is necessary for them to prove the following elements, the:
- substance was harmful, dangerous or toxic
- plaintiff was exposed to the harmful, dangerous or toxic substance
- substance resulted in harm or damage to the plaintiff
A key element in any personal injury claims as well as in toxic torts is causation. There must be a direct link between exposure to the dangerous substance and the injuries suffered. However, such lawsuits depend on scientific evidence, medical records and studies.
Different Types of Toxic Exposure
Generally, there are five different types of toxic exposure claims that a plaintiff can file. These are:
- Workplace or occupational exposure – employees are exposed to dangerous toxins at work
- Home exposure – residents in a home are exposed to toxic substances
- Environmental exposure – harmful toxins poison water or the air and people are exposed to this
- Pharmaceutical drugs – prescribed medication results in unintended side effects causing severe damage
- Consumer products – consumers are injured or suffer damage from hazardous materials, e.g. breast implants