Your lawyer has told you that you suffered something called a “toxic tort”. Find out what that means, and what you can expect in your toxic tort personal injury lawsuit.
What Is a Toxic Tort?
A toxic tort personal injury lawsuit happens when a person becomes sick or injured because they were exposed to a chemical or other toxic substance as the result of someone else’s negligence carelessness. Common types of toxic tort lawsuits include exposure to:
- Lead or lead-based paint
- Dry cleaning solvents
- Electro-magnetic fields produced by poorly maintained utility wires or defective appliances
- Landfill waste
- Pharmaceuticals and prescription drugs
The injuries in these kinds of cases can be everything from brain damage to cancer, and even birth defects. What ties toxic tort personal injury lawsuits together is what your lawyer needs to prove: that you were exposed to a dangerous substance, that substance caused you harm, and that the person or company you sue didn’t do something it should have done to protect you from that exposure.
Who Causes the Toxic Injury?
Sometimes the first step of a toxic tort personal injury can be the hardest: figuring out who to sue. Is the right defendant your employer, or the landlord who owns the building? Can you sue the city or the utility company for exposing you to unsafe conditions? Your personal injury attorney may need to investigate who did what even before the complaint is filed.
What Makes Toxic Tort Personal Injury Lawsuits Challenging
Toxic torts often include challenges that mean you want a skilled and experienced attorney on your case. The injuries suffered by toxic tort plaintiffs often don’t show up for years, sometimes decades. When they do, it can be difficult to demonstrate that the toxic substance caused the injury. A toxic tort case often involves the testimony of medical experts who tie the toxin to your condition and explain how the exposure caused you injury.
Experts may also be necessary to show what steps could have been reasonably taken to prevent the injury. Could the company use better filters to sift out the poisonous chemical? Was there a less toxic alternative? Could your employer have put better safety policies in place to limit your exposure? Toxic tort lawsuits often require extensive testimony about industry standards and lack of care.
How an Injured Party Can Afford a Toxic Tort Lawsuit
All that investigation and expert testimony can get expensive. The costs connected to a toxic tort personal injury lawsuit can easily climb into the thousands of dollars. The good news is that toxic substance exposure doesn’t usually affect just one person. In preparing to file your lawsuit, your personal injury attorney will often look for others who were similarly affected. By joining many claims together into one large mass tort or class action lawsuit, your lawyer can help spread the cost of your toxic tort litigation out and make sure you can keep more of your settlement or jury verdict.
Similarly, attorney fees for toxic tort cases are usually paid on a contingency fee basis. That means your personal injury lawyer will get paid out of the money you are awarded at the end of the case. The more plaintiffs there are, the more your attorney will be able to spread out his or her costs.
Depending on the circumstances of your injury, you may also be able to take advantage of state or federal laws that force the defendants in the case to pay for your attorney fees and costs of the litigation, including expert witness fees. Some environmental laws allow for this kind of “fee-shifting” as a way to protect injured parties’ right to sue and make sure the cost of filing doesn’t outweigh the benefit.
Toxic tort personal injury lawsuits can be big and complicated. You need an experienced personal injury attorney to help you prove your case, and make the most of your recovery. If you have gotten sick because you were exposed to a toxic substance, make sure you hire a lawyer who knows her way around toxic torts.