What is a Toxic Tort Lawsuit?
Toxic tort refers to personal injury cases in which a hazardous substance causes the illness, symptoms, medical bills, and other damages. Victims of negligent exposure often choose to file a lawsuit to hold those responsible accountable and to recover damages.
Do I Need to File a Toxic Tort Lawsuit?
If you have been exposed to a harmful substance and have symptoms and medical bills as a result, you may want to take legal action. A lawsuit is not typically the first step, though. A toxic tort lawyer can first try to negotiate a settlement with the liable party’s insurance company.
For instance, if you have respiratory symptoms from a mold infestation in your leaky basement, a contractor who was supposed to seal it correctly could be liable for your expenses. Your lawyer will notify the contractor and work with their insurance company to get you a settlement over breach of warranty.
When negotiations for a settlement fail to result in adequate compensation, you may need to file a lawsuit. To file or not is your choice as the victim of exposure, but it might be the only option you have to cover medical and other expenses.
Who is Negligent in a Toxic Tort Lawsuit?
It’s important to work with a toxic tort lawyer if you are considering a lawsuit. They have the expertise necessary to investigate the incident and prove negligence. They will also know which laws apply and who can be held liable for your damages. There are many possible defendants in toxic tort cases, depending on the situation:
- A company that caused a chemical spill
- A contractor that used toxic materials or did not follow safety guideline while doing work in your home
- The manufacturer of a toxic product
- Drug companies that failed to warn about risks and side effects
- The manufacturer of faulty equipment that led to exposure
Can I File a Toxic Tort Lawsuit Against My Employer?
If your exposure occurred at work, your first step is to file a workers’ compensation claim. This insurance is designed to provide compensation for workers harmed on the job. It covers medical bills and lost wages. Because most employers are required to have this insurance, employees generally cannot sue them. There are a couple of exceptions:
- Your employer does not have workers’ compensation. There are some exceptions to the law, but in most states, nearly all employers must hold this insurance. If you suffer illness from toxic exposure at work and find out, there is no insurance to compensate you, suing your employer for damages is possible.
- Your employer was grossly negligent in the incident. Even if your employer has workers’ compensation insurance, you can sue in cases of gross negligence. Employers must provide a reasonably safe workplace and follow safety guidelines. If they do not, and you were hurt as a result, you may be able to sue for damages.
A toxic tort lawyer can help you with workers’ compensation claims. They can also determine if and when it is appropriate to sue your employer.
Is There a Time Limit on Filing a Lawsuit?
The statute of limitations on filing depends on the state in which the incident occurred. The statute of limitations begins at the time of the injury or illness and runs between one and six years, depending on the state.
With toxic torts, there are often exceptions to the statute of limitations. If you suffered an illness years after exposure, for instance, you may still be able to sue. Talk to a lawyer as soon as you know you are ill to make sure you do not miss an opportunity for legal action
What Can I Recover in Damages?
Damages depend on the situation. Your lawyer will be able to estimate your expected damages based on several factors:
- How ill you are and the cost of your medical bills
- Expected future medical bills
- Any disfigurement or disability resulting from the exposure
- Lost wages and expected future lost wages or inability to earn the same income as before the incident
- Emotional and physical pain and suffering, known as non-economic damages
State laws also impact damages. Some states cap the amount you can recover in non-economic damages. Certain states also reduce damages if the victim was at fault to any degree in the incident.
How Do I File a Toxic Tort Lawsuit?
One of the best things about having a toxic tort lawyer advocating for you is that you don’t have to do much. They take all of the necessary steps to get you the compensation you need:
- File a complaint. The first official step in a lawsuit is to file a complaint to notify the defendants and outline the allegations.
- Investigate. With the lawsuit official, your lawyer and the defendants’ lawyers investigate the incident. Your team will gather information and evidence to prove negligence and that you were directly harmed by the toxic substance.
- Share information. During the discovery period, each side can share information. They can also hold depositions.
- Negotiate a settlement. Going to trial is a risk for defendants who may be forced to pay more if a jury awards damages. In most cases, they will be ready to settle after the discovery period.
- Go to trial. If the settlement fails, you can decide to go to trial. A jury will then decide if the defendants owe you damages.
- Appeal. Either side can appeal the jury decision, which takes it to a higher court. This delays payment if you won in the trial.
Work with a toxic tort lawyer to file a lawsuit if you feel you have been harmed by someone’s negligence in exposing you to a hazardous substance. A lawsuit may seem like a big step, but it is often necessary when those responsible fail to compensate you.