A toxic tort is a legal claim for harm caused by exposure to a dangerous substance —such as a pharmaceutical drug, pesticide, or chemical. Most toxic tort injuries arise in one of the following ways:
Learn more about the basics in our toxic torts overview.
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:
Learn more about legal theories of liability in toxic tort cases.
Figuring out who is responsible for a toxic tort victim's exposure to a dangerous substance can be difficult. Plaintiffs generally sue anybody that had a link to the toxin—including the manufacturer of the toxin, the manufacturer of machinery that exposes workers to toxins, the owner or lessor of a building or site that contains or emits a toxin, companies that store toxins, and manufacturers of safety equipment intended to protect employees from toxins. To learn more about possible defendants in a toxic tort lawsuit, see our toxic torts overview.
An injured plaintiff must bring a lawsuit within a certain period of time after harm occurred—under laws called statutes of limitations. In toxic tort cases, many plaintiffs don't discover their injuries until many years after the harm occurred, because symptoms often take years to show up. Luckily, most courts follow the "discovery rule," which means the clock doesn't start ticking on the statute of limitations time period until the plaintiff actually discovers the harm (or when the circumstances are such that the plaintiff reasonably should have discovered it). If you just recently became ill from your exposure to a dangerous chemical, meaning you just discovered that the chemical harmed you, it is probably not too late to sue. Contact a lawyer immediately. Learn more about the statute of limitations and other common defenses to toxic tort cases.
Probably. Mesothelioma, an often fatal lung disease, is caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos. Lawsuits have established that the asbestos industry hid the health dangers of asbestos for decades, and workers were needlessly exposed to asbestos (a serious carcinogen) as a result. For this reason, if you suffer from mesothelioma because you worked with asbestos, you have a very good chance of recovering money damages for your illness—either from the company that manufactured or installed the asbestos or through an insurer or victims' compensation fund that has assumed liability on the company's behalf. Learn more about mesothelioma and asbestos claims.
For information on filing a personal injury claim, see How to Win Your Personal Injury Claim, by Attorney Joseph L. Matthews (Nolo).