Toxic Torts FAQ

How can I prove fault in a toxic tort case?

Plaintiffs in toxic tort lawsuits can use a number of legal theories to try to establish liability and receive compensation for their injuries. Some common claims in toxic tort cases include:

  • Negligence. The plaintiff in a negligence claim must prove that 1) the defendant (perhaps a construction business owner whose employees worked with asbestos) had an obligation to use ordinary care toward the plaintiff or the general public, 2) the defendant's action or failure to act did not meet this duty (for example, the owner failed to provide workers with safety equipment to prevent inhalation of asbestos), and 3) the victim or the general public was injured as a result.
  • Strict liability. In some toxic tort cases, certain behavior is deemed so dangerous that anyone engaging in it will be held legally responsible (strictly liable) for any damages that result. Toxic tort victims in these cases don’t have to show that the defendant acted carelessly.
  • Intentional misrepresentation or fraud. If a defendant knew that a substance was dangerous, but deliberately concealed the danger or marketed the product in a misleading way, a toxic tort plaintiff may have a claim for intentional misrepresentation or fraud.

To learn more about legal theories commonly used in toxic tort cases, see Nolo's article Toxic Torts: Legal Theories of Liability.

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