Understanding the Different Legal Theories Underlining Toxic Tort Cases
In almost all personal injury cases, deciding which legal theory to pursue is an essential part of filing a claim to recover damages. Toxic tort cases are unique because there are several legal theories a person can use to pursue a claim. Typically in toxic tort cases, the plaintiff (the injured party) alleges that the exposure to a dangerous chemical or toxin caused them some sort of injury. Some of the most common types of toxic tort cases are related to the following:
- Exposure to asbestos
- Exposure to mold
- Exposure to lead paint
- Exposure to chemicals in the workplace
- Exposure to chemicals or toxins from defective medications
As a long-standing Florida Panhandle personal injury law firm, we are experienced in handling cases that deal with chemical exposure, and we know how to navigate this somewhat complicated field of law.
Negligence and Toxic Torts
Negligence is a legal theory that is often pursued in personal injury cases. To prove that a defendant (the party being sued) was negligent, the plaintiff must prove the following:
- The Defendant had a duty to act with reasonable care
- The Defendant breached that duty
- The plaintiff suffered an injury
- The Defendant's breach of that duty caused the injury to the plaintiff
Typically, the hardest element to prove is causation.
Intentional Misrepresentation/Fraud and Toxic Torts
Intentional Misrepresentation or Fraud can be pursued in a toxic tort case when the evidence suggests that the defendant knew that the chemical was dangerous but knowingly concealed the danger. In some cases, the defendant might have even used misleading statements to market the product.
Strict Liability and Toxic Torts
Strict Liability is a category of behavior that is considered so dangerous that anyone who engages in that behavior will automatically be held liable for any injuries that result. Although the theory of strict liability is typically used in cases involving defective products, in toxic tort cases the theory is often used in cases involving pharmaceutical drugs. When pursuing a strict liability theory, a plaintiff must show:
- The pharmaceutical drug was defective
- The plaintiff was injured
- That the defect caused the injury
Wrongful Death and Toxic Torts
The Florida Wrongful Death Act allows a family member of the deceased to pursue a claim on the deceased's behalf when "the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person...and the event would have entitled the person injured to maintain an action and recover damages if death has not ensued." To recover under the Wrongful Death Act, the family member must still prove all of the elements of the underlining theory.
Importance of Securing Legal Counsel in Toxic Tort Cases
Please note that toxic tort cases can be very complicated due to their scientifically-sophisticated nature. Another obstacle plaintiffs are often faced with is the fact that injuries to some chemical exposures do not manifest until years after the exposure. Therefore, it is imperative that you work with attorneys that are knowledgeable and experienced in handling toxic tort cases to successfully represent your interests.