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Bronx Personal Injury & Real Estate Blog

Monday, November 30, 2020

What Is a Toxic Tort?

A tort is a civil wrong. It is an injury or loss to a person’s body or health, financial situation, or other interest, and the injury is caused due to the negligent action or inaction of another. The law provides that those who have been the victims of a tortious action can seek compensation for the harm they have sustained as a result of the wrongdoer’s behavior. Usually, compensation comes in the form of financial compensation, but other remedies are available in some tort actions. Now that we have the basics of what a tort actually is, the question may then become, what is a toxic tort?

What is a Toxic Tort?

A toxic tort is, basically, a tort claim that arose from exposure to a toxic or dangerous substance. The substance may be something like a pharmaceutical drug, pesticide, mold, or chemical. It may have been ingested, inhaled, or otherwise made contact with an individual causing them harm. Exposure to the toxic substance may have been prior to an awareness that the chemical was harmful. In the alternative, the exposure may have been to a toxic substance that was known to be toxic but the exposure was unintended, such as groundwater subjected to a toxic leak of some sort.

When a plaintiff brings a toxic tort action, he or she is alleging that exposure to a toxic substance caused injury or illness. To be successful in seeking compensation for harm suffered due to a toxic substance, the plaintiff must prove a number of things. For instance, the plaintiff must prove that the substance was, in fact, dangerous. The plaintiff must also prove that he or she was actually exposed to the substance. Additionally, the plaintiff must prove that the substance was the actual cause of the harm he or she suffered.

The last element, the causation element, can prove to be exceedingly tricky in many toxic tort claims. This is due in large part to the fact that exposure to some toxic chemicals or substances does not lead to a manifestation of any detectable illness or injury until years after exposure. For instance, a person may have developed cancer due to prolonged asbestos exposure years in the past. The delay in presenting symptoms of exposure means that plaintiffs need to show that the harm suffered was due to the exposure to the toxic substance and not something else that could have come up along the many years since the timing of the exposure.

In addition to having evidence that essentially will weed out any possible intervening causes of the illness or harm suffered, the delay between exposure and proof of harm can often prove problematic due to old evidence. Evidence of exposure to toxic substances in the past may be difficult to find. Documents related to such exposure may be long gone. Any witnesses may have passed away or been difficult to find. Even when witnesses can be located, memory can fail or prove fuzzy.

New York Personal Injury Attorney

While there may be hurdles in a toxic tort claim, the Law Office of Ryan Goldstein is committed to clearing them. We are dedicated to providing you with trusted legal advocacy. Contact us today.


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