Toxic tort litigation stems from injury or harm resulting from exposure to a dangerous substance. These could be dangerous pharmaceuticals, chemicals, food or even naturally-occurring substances, like lead or asbestos, used in the manufacture of products or building materials.
At Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers, our toxic tort attorneys are experienced and knowledgeable in the handling of these complex cases. Such litigation involves understanding the complexity of the scientific, medical and regulatory evidence, as well as retaining experts in these fields who can be relied upon to interpret and testify on a client’s behalf.
Some of our areas of concentration include:
- Asbestos Exposure
- Toxic Mold
- Lead Paint
- Food Poisoning
- Consumer products
While the specific burden of proof in these claims may vary depending on the circumstances, generally, plaintiff needs to show the substance was dangerous, plaintiff was exposed to the substance and substance harmed plaintiff.
In many cases, exposure is occupational, with primarily industrial workers exposed to toxins during the course of their job. In many cases, employers and manufacturers are aware of the dangers employees face, and yet fail to provide proper protection or give them adequate warning. Asbestos exposure is a good example, with workers in trades like ship-building, construction, auto manufacturing and roofing being at particular risk.
Pharmaceuticals too have been the subject of toxic tort litigation, as there are many that cause unintended side effects. While many medications are taken with the knowledge of a certain degree of risk, there are sometimes dangerous side effects about which manufacturers fail to warn consumers.
Exposure to toxic materials may also occur in the home, when people ingest or breathe in toxic mold or lead. This can lead to upper respiratory tract infections and sometimes serious health complications. Homeowners, tenants and employees who work and live in these spaces may be entitled to compensation for medical bills and other expenses incurred in these situations.
Other times, materials may be routinely found in consumer products we buy. For example, lead materials in children’s toys and paint products has been a major problem, with symptoms ranging from fatigue and stomach discomfort to neurological damage resulting in permanent disability.
Food poisoning is usually the result of foods not being properly cultivated, stored, prepared or labeled. Most commonly, illness stems from food being infected with viruses, parasites or bacteria. Farms, manufacturers, grocery stores, restaurants and other food providers may be subject to toxic tort litigation if consumption of their products results in serious illness or death.
Silica, like asbestos and lead, is naturally occurring and is found in soil, sand, granite and many other minerals. It’s also a known carcinogen. The most common form is crystalline silica, and is often found to be problematic for those who work in trades involving concrete, stone brick and mortar. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration proposed new rules in August 2013 indicating exposure to this substance remains a threat to some 2 million workers, particularly the 100,000 or so engaged in foundry work, stone-cutting, rock drilling, abrasive blasting, tunneling and quarry work.Overcoming Defenses in Toxic Tort
Defendants in toxic tort cases are most typically large companies or property owners and it’s often expected their defense will be vigorous.
Overcoming defenses often requires aggressive representation and meticulous legal planning. For example, many defendants will attempt to have a case dismissed for technical reasons, alleging the claim was not timely filed pursuant to applicable statute of limitations. Other times, they will allege proper notice was never given or that defendants aren’t properly named.
Another common defense tactic is to attack the issue of causation. For example, defendants will allege a plaintiff’s lung cancer was caused by smoking, rather than exposure to silica, or that it was exposure to another manufacturer’s products that resulted in a diagnosis of mesothelioma.
Companies will also argue that they complied with government standards regarding warning labels or the handling of certain chemicals or materials.
The fact that a plaintiff becomes very ill or even dies as a result of exposure to a toxic material is not enough to succeed in litigation. Plaintiffs must make sure claims are properly and timely filed (or that the statute of limitations was tolled) and that there is significant evidence of causation for each defendant in order to move forward.
Being familiar with both Massachusetts law and federal law with regard to toxic tort claims helps us to successfully challenge these assertions.
Contact Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers today for a free and confidential consultation.
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