A toxic tort is the type of claim you file when you are harmed by a dangerous substance. ‘Toxic’ refers to some kind of toxin or chemical, and ‘tort’ refers to any “act or omission that gives rise to injury or harm to another.”
Why Do Toxic Torts Happen?
Sometimes, toxic torts emerge because manufacturers knowingly put dangerous drugs or defective products on the market, but other times, a substance we thought was safe turns out to be toxic (see also: asbestos). The American Bar Association (ABA) links toxic torts to environmental law because these claims often affect many people and have far-reaching impacts on the world around us.
Roundup weed killer, for example, may cause cancer in humans, destroy crops that are not glyphosate-resistant, and contribute to pollution.
Who Is Liable In a Toxic Tort?
In some cases, manufacturers do not realize their products cause harm, and many toxic torts emerge after recalls by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Whether the FDA recalls a drug for contamination or the CPSC recalls a toy for having too much lead, the manufacturer is still responsible for putting its product on the market and liable for any resulting harm.
Manufacturers are liable for toxic torts, even if they did not know about a problem until someone got hurt. If a manufacturer knows about a problem and continues to sell their product anyway, they may face more serious repercussions.
To prove liability in a toxic tort case, the person suing (the plaintiff) must only show:
- The substance involved was dangerous
- They were exposed to the substance
- The substance caused harm to the plaintiff
Causation is often the challenging aspect of toxic tort cases. Dangerous products stay on the market for far too long due to the difficulty of litigating and winning toxic tort claims. Nevertheless, once a manufacturer faces a major recall or loses one big case, countless more seem to roll in.
For the reasons discussed above, many toxic torts become class-action lawsuits, which means multiple plaintiffs, or a ‘class’ of injured people, sue a manufacturer together. Class-action lawsuits and multi-district litigation help plaintiffs pool their resources and take on big companies.
Well-known harms may still inspire individual claims or class action lawsuits, depending on where the exposure comes from and how many people it affects. For instance, we now know that asbestos is dangerous and understand the risks of mold exposure. If a manufacturer includes asbestos in its products, anyone harmed by those products can sue as long as they prove the presence of asbestos. Meanwhile, a single tenant can sue their landlord directly if they are harmed by an unresolved mold problem.
Toxic torts can be as varied as toxins and hazardous substances themselves. If you think you have a toxic tort claim and want to talk about filing a lawsuit or joining a class action, Lauri J. Goldstein & Associates, PLLC is here to help.
We are available 24/7 to answer your questions and offer free consultations – call us at (866) 675-4427 or contact us online to get started today