Toxic substances are all around us. Even products and materials thought to be safe may contain chemicals and substances that can be hazardous. What happens when a severe injury occurs because of these toxic substances? To help you get a better understanding, let’s look into the basics surrounding toxic tort litigation.
The definition of a toxic tort is pretty simple. A toxic tort is a legal claim that arises from exposure to toxic substances. Individuals who have been exposed to and injured by dangerous substances such as chemicals, pesticides, or pharmaceutical drugs may have toxic tort legal claims.
You may be wondering – if these types of substances are so dangerous, then how is it possible for so many individuals to be exposed to them? With all of the technological advances in today’s society, from the ways our food is grown to the household or personal health products we use to the medicines we take, we are constantly exposed to substances and chemicals. Unfortunately, this exposure can sometimes make us sick. Even when new products have been tested for safety, the possibility of problems, illness, or side effects exists. Sometimes, exposure to a dangerous substance occurs when a dangerous substance accidentally leaks into the ground, groundwater, or air.
The majority of toxic tort injuries occur through one of the following avenues:
In Pennsylvania, the most common types of toxic tort cases include:
There is a time limit for filing personal injury cases, including toxic tort claims, in Pennsylvania of two years. In most cases, after this statute of limitations has passed, plaintiffs can no longer have their cases heard by the court. With most personal injury cases, the statute of limitations begins on the first date that an individual would have a cause of action, or a reason to file a claim. For example, in a car crash case, the statute of limitations clock begins ticking at the time of the collision. However, with toxic tort claims it may be difficult to determine when the cause of action date is.
The cause of action date in a toxic tort claim isn’t necessarily when an illness or injury began. Rather, it is when the individual became aware of the injury or should have become aware of it. This may be the date that an illness or injury is diagnosed, but it may not be in all situations. Because of this ambiguity, it’s crucial that individuals who suspect their injuries are a result of exposure to toxic substances contact an experienced toxic tort attorney as soon as possible.
If you think that you suffered injuries because of exposure to harmful substances, your first step should be to consult with a toxic tort attorney. The fact of the matter is that toxic tort cases can be very complicated.
First, it must be proved that exposure to a dangerous substance caused the injury. Because exposure to dangerous substances typically happens unintentionally, it can be difficult to identify the chemical or product that caused the injury or the source of the chemical or product. Tracing the injury to a specific product, substance, or exposure can be difficult because many side effects and injuries do not manifest until years after the initial exposure. Individuals encounter many substances throughout the years, so it can be challenging to trace an injury back to a specific substance.
Another special issue that requires professional assistance from a toxic tort attorney is determining who should be sued in the personal injury lawsuit. If a patient develops a serious health issue after taking a pharmaceutical drug, how can you determine what company manufactured the medication? If an industrial worker was exposed to asbestos at multiple jobs, how can you determine what companies made the asbestos containing products to which the employee was exposed? If an individual becomes extremely ill from drinking contaminated water, is it possible to figure out where and how the contaminants were leaked?
Toxic tort cases often involve complex legal matters and multiple parties. That’s why attorneys litigating such cases typically sue all individuals and organizations that could have any association with the hazardous substance. This could include manufacturers, distributors, owners of locations where individuals were exposed to dangerous products or where dangerous products or chemicals were stored, companies in charge of storing the chemicals, and more.
If exposure to harmful substances or chemicals has caused severe injuries to you or a loved one, contact the experienced toxic tort attorneys at Ross Feller Casey for a free evaluation.
Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.