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The area of toxic tort law has been developing in recent years. This area of law covers many types of injuries, such as injuries due to tobacco use, lead poisoning, polluted water, contaminated structures or building materials, radiation poisoning, pesticides, injury due to defective drugs or injuries from medical devices, to name a few. These injuries are caused by various sources, from defective medications to contamination or pollution. Although the circumstances surrounding each toxic tort case may be vastly different, the legal aspects of toxic tort claims are similar: The injury must have been caused by hazardous substance and the individual or individuals who were injured must have made contact with that substance.
There a number of common legal elements that the person bringing a toxic tort claim must prove to the court litigation. First, the plaintiff must show exposure to a toxic substance. The plaintiff may be the individual who suffered the injury or a third party (such as a family member or loved one of the victim) making the claim on behalf of the injured party. Next, the plaintiff must show that the defendant is responsible for the injuries suffered by the victim and that the victim did, in fact, suffer injury or harm. The defendant’s responsibility (legal liability) for the injury does not have to be from a direct action — often, it is the inaction or failure to act that caused the plaintiff’s injury.
Establishing the Defendant
Determining the defendant in a toxic tort claim may be difficult. There may be more than one individual and/or company responsible for an injury. In addition, sometimes the full extent of the victim’s injuries may not be fully realized until years after the original injury took place. Therefore, the legally liable party may vary depending on the type of toxic substance involved, the injury sustained and when the injury occurred. Some examples of potentially liable parties are as follows:
- The manufacturer, designer, retailer, distributor or transporter of a dangerous product
- A business or company that did not dispose of toxic waste properly, or land owners who allowed toxic waste to remain on their property
- The supplier of contaminated building materials or contractor who constructed the contaminated structure
- An employer whose employees were exposed to dangerous levels of toxic substances
If the defendant is an employer, you should be aware that there are laws excluding employers from being held liable for employee’s injuries due to toxic exposure. A toxic tort claim against an employer may be possible depending on the facts of your situation and the laws in your jurisdiction. It is important to speak to a toxic torts attorney to help you determine if you have a claim against your employer.
If you think may have a toxic tort claim for injuries caused by exposure to a toxic substance, it is important to speak with an attorney knowledgeable in toxic tort litigation to discuss the facts of your case. A lawyer in your jurisdiction may answer your questions regarding toxic tort litigation and help you determine the proper claims for your specific situation.
Preparing to Meet with Your Personal Injury Attorney
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