Understanding How Toxic Tort Law Works

Toxic tort law refers to legislation that is meant to ensure you receive compensation if you were harmed by being exposed to dangerous substances, which covers anything from drugs and pesticides to chemicals. New products are introduced to the market every year, and while most of them are tremendous and make our lives easier, some of them can cause humans to become very sick due to the substances they contain.

Some chemicals we think are safe could turn out not to be, while some dangerous chemicals can leak into the air or water. And with new and dangerous chemicals come lawsuits, referred to as toxic tort litigation.

Common Toxic Tort Claims

When a person files a toxic tort claim, they usually claim that they’ve been exposed to a toxic substance and this exposure has caused some form of injury or sickness. Generally, toxic tort claims are class action lawsuits, which are lawsuits filed by a group of people. For example, a group of people living in the same neighborhood may sue the local factory for dumping toxic waste into the water in the area causing them and their children harm. Note that a toxic tort lawsuit doesn’t have to be a class action lawsuit and can be filed by an individual as well.

The following situations commonly lead to toxic tort lawsuits:

  • Exposure in the workplace – this usually occurs in the case of industrial workers who are exposed to toxic substances, either to small amounts over a long period of time, or large amounts over a short period of time. Some examples include lawsuits based on workers being exposed to benzene and asbestos.
  • Medication – when medicine causes accidental side-effects. Examples include lawsuits due to antidepressant side-effects such as Prozac and Zoloft.
  • Being exposed in the home – when the plaintiff has been exposed to dangerous substances in their home, such as certain types of mold that can be toxic.
  • Products – when a person has used a certain product that has led to an unintended sickness, such as a pesticide.

Proving Toxic Tort Claims

The plaintiff has to prove he or she has a basis for the lawsuit but the individual elements that have to be proven vary from one case to another. However, generally, the person filing the suit needs to provide proof that the substance was dangerous and that he or she was exposed to it. Furthermore, it also has to be shown that the substance caused the plaintiff harm in some way.

Defendants will usually mount a strong defense in toxic tort claims, and they often try to find fault with the case the plaintiff filed, even if it’s just a procedural issue such as filing the suit too late. There are also quite a few issues involved with toxic tort cases, such as the difficult in proving causation. It is often quite complicated to find where the chemical came from. Furthermore, it can take years for an illness to set in, which means the plaintiff has to prove they weren’t exposed to other chemicals in the meantime that could have caused the problem.

Time can be an Issue

It can also be quite difficult to find evidence, especially if the lawsuit is being filed many years after the plaintiff was initially exposed. This is the situation for many asbestos cases in fact.

A Law Firm of Integrity

Though such cases can be difficult, at Makarem & Associates, our dedicated attorneys will be able to help you. Get in touch with us either by phone at 310.312.0299 or by email at and your direction towards a brighter future can begin.