What Is a Toxic Tort?
Why Is It Different From Other Personal Injury Cases?
A toxic tort case refers most generally to a personal injury that arises due to harm from exposure to a toxic substance. It can include exposure from a toxic product, exposure from chemicals in the work place, or exposure from toxic discharges into the environment, among others. The crux of the claim is that the injury suffered, or in some cases, potentially suffered, is due to a toxic chemical that a plaintiff has been exposed to by means of ingestion, inhalation, or dermal contact. The toxic chemical can be one that has always been known to be hazardous, or is defined in statutes and/or various state and/or federal regulations as such. Toxic chemicals can also be ones that were once believed to be safe and just recently discovered to be harmful.
Toxic tort cases are different from other personal injury cases because proving causation poses unique obstacles to Plaintiffs. In fact, there is widespread agreement that proving causation is the largest barrier to recovery in toxic tort cases. Some even declare that causation is the central, decisive factor in toxic tort litigation.
An example of the unique difficulty in proving causation in toxic tort cases is that many physical symptoms that people experience after a toxic exposure are too generic to trigger any notions of causation such as headaches, nausea, or other subjective symptoms. Similarly, the adverse health effects that can to be linked to a particular chemical often have a wide variety of other causes unrelated to that chemical. Likewise, such generic symptoms or adverse health effects can easily be mistakenly attributed to other unrelated sources such as the aging process or social conditions like smoking, drinking, or taking prescription medication.
There can also be a wide variety of reactions to a particular chemical leading to symptoms and illnesses to manifest differently in different people. Such variety can make it difficult to detect any pattern to establish the requisite causation for purposes of litigation.
However, even though proving causation in toxic tort cases is often challenging, it is not impossible. At Williams Cedar, our experienced environmental lawyers know what is needed to overcome the barriers associated with a toxic tort case are essential to a successful and just recovery in these types of matters. For more information, call us today at 215-557-0099 or 856-470-9777. You may also submit an online inquiry.
By Shauna Friedman, Esq.