Exposure to chemicals or toxins can take many different forms:
- If your employer has a hazardous working
environment and you are exposed to chemicals or toxins at work, your employer
can be liable for injuries that result from your exposure to those chemicals.
- If a drug company releases a drug that turns out
to be dangerous and you took the drug and suffered adverse consequences, you
can sue them for giving you this toxic drug to take.
- If your landlord rents you an apartment with
lead paint, asbestos, toxic mold, or other dangers, your landlord may have to
pay for the injuries that you incur as a result.
- If a company or other entity doesn’t dispose of
their hazardous waste properly and it contaminates your land or drinking water,
you can sue the company for injuries that result.
- If a company sells you a pesticide or herbicide designed to kill bugs or plants, and that product turns out to cause damage to you, you can sue the company who made or sold the pesticide.
Types of Claims
If you were exposed to a toxin and injured as a result, you can do one of two things: you can join a class action, or you can sue the entity that caused the exposure yourself. If you join a class action, you are part of a group of people that were all injured by the same thing. You don’t get to decide for yourself whether you will accept a settlement. If the class decides to settle a case, you have to accept that. Your recovery is then based on the terms of the class action lawsuit.
If you bring a claim on your own, then you are responsible for proving your case. When you bring a toxic tort lawsuit, you have to do a few different things.
- First, you have to prove that you were actually exposed to some type of hazardous material.
- Second, you have to prove that the hazardous material actually hurt you: that it caused cancer or birth defects or some other illness.
- Finally, you have to prove that the company should have to pay for that injury. This means you have to prove a theory of liability, or give the judge a legal reason why the company should have to pay for what happened.
Liability In Toxic Tort Claims
1. Negligence: If someone should have known that the toxic substance would hurt people, and they let it hurt people anyway, they were negligent. This is the same theory of liability you would use to sue someone who hit you with their car when they weren’t paying attention. The company has a duty to you to be reasonably responsible. If they weren’t careful when they released the drug or disposed of their waste, they breached that duty and should have to pay for the damage their carelessness caused.
2. Breach of Warranty: Some products are sold with an explicit warranty: the company promises you something. Even if a product doesn't have a warranty, there is an implied warranty that a product you buy will be reasonably safe and serve its intended purpose. If the company breaks that explicit or implied promise, they can be liable.
3. Strict Liability: Some things are so inherently dangerous that if something goes wrong, the court just assumes the company is liable and holds them responsible. If a company manufactures a defective product in many cases that company is held responsible for the dangerous defect even if they weren’t negligent.
Getting Legal Help
An experienced toxic tort attorney can help you determine whether you have a strong toxic tort case. Your attorney can help choose a theory of liability, and help you build evidence to prove that the exposure caused you harm.