A toxic tort lawsuit is a kind of personal injury lawsuit where the plaintiff alleges that exposure to a dangerous substance such as a chemical has caused their injuries or disease.
Often times, toxic tort lawsuits are brought on by large groups of people and are a called class action lawsuits. While class action lawsuits are common, they are not required. An individual can bring a toxic tort lawsuit.
In the U.S., people enjoy easy access to tons of different types of products, from medicine, to toys, to technology. And while many of these products are safe, some contain chemicals that people later find out are dangerous and cause harm. When people are harmed by these products, they bring toxic tort lawsuits against the product's company.
Some common examples of toxic tort lawsuits include:
- Contaminated ground water
- Asbestos exposure
- Pharmaceutical drug side effects
- Toxic mold
- Household cleaners
Who to sue?
Plaintiffs sometimes face an uphill battle when it comes to figuring out who to sue for toxic torts. Do you sue the manufacturer or the product, manufacturers of the equipment, the distributor, company owners, or land owners? It can be difficult to figure out who is the right person to sue. To add to the confusion, sometimes there are multiple manufacturers or multiple company owners. That's why in class action lawsuits, plaintiffs sue as many people as possible.
What must a plaintiff do to win a toxic tort lawsuit?
- A plaintiff must prove that the there was a substance and it is considered a dangerous substance.
- For example: asbestos.
- A plaintiff must prove that they were exposed to that substance.
- Finally, a plaintiff must prove that exposure to that substance caused them injury or disease.
- This type of evidence is usually taken from medical experts or medical journals.
What must a defendant do to win a toxic tort lawsuit?
- A defendant must prove that they are not liable.
- Or, they must show that the plaintiff has not proved their case.
- A defendant's legal team can show that the plaintiff did not sufficiently prove that a certain substance was the one that caused their injury or disease. Sometimes, injuries and diseases take years to reveal themselves, and with the passing of all that time, a lot of evidence can be lost. This greatly benefits the defendant.
- Or, they must show that the statute of limitations expired.
Plaintiffs who successfully win their toxic tort cases are rewarded damages.
They can win compensatory damages, which is money to compensate the plaintiff for their injuries or disease. They can win punitive damages, although rare. Punitive damages are monies awarded to plaintiffs to punish defendants. A court can also order a company to stop a certain conduct such as making a product that they've determined is harmful to consumers.