U.S. tort costs increased by 5.1 percent in 2010, according to the 2011 Update on U.S. Tort Cost Trends, published by Towers Watson. The BP Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and oil spill in April 2010 was the largest contributing factor to that increase — without it, costs would have declined by 2.4 percent. BP established a $20 billion fund in June 2010 to compensate victims of the tragic event, from which $7.5 billion in payouts had been awarded in claims by November 2011.
What is a toxic tort?
Toxic tort claims refer to when a plaintiff alleges a toxic substance invaded their body or property, causing damage or injury. Exposure to faulty consumer products, unhealthy pharmaceuticals or raw or radioactive materials can result in irrevocable harm to a person’s health. The exposure can occur in the general environment, while on your private property, in the wake of an oil spill or in the scope of your occupation.
Filing for and winning a toxic tort claim is a lengthy and complicated process, and understanding some possible defenses against a lawsuit is an important step in bringing a good offense.
Plaintiffs must prove all elements of the claim
To win a toxic tort case, a plaintiff must prove the following elements of the claim:
A dangerous substance existed
The plaintiff was exposed to the dangerous substance
The exposure directly resulted in the plaintiff’s harm
For example, plaintiffs in a BP Deepwater Horizon claim could prove that they suffered direct harm from being exposed to spilled oil that washed up on shore.
Defenses against a toxic tort claim
Defendants often focus on the causation factor in a toxic tort allegation. Attacking causation is a key defense in many lawsuits. For example, a defendant may use scientific research as evidence that a workplace chemical does not cause the specific disease that the plaintiff was diagnosed with.
Another defense tactic is to show that the defendant complied with government regulations of whatever was required for the substance in question. Compliance with government regulations may help remove negligence as a factor. For example, a defendant may demonstrate that they placed the correct warning label on a drug or handled the chemical in question properly.
Toxic tort claims are not the type of lawsuit you should go through with on your own. Detailed scientific research and causation studies are used to poke holes in a plaintiff’s case, and large organizations have highly skilled lawyers and scientists backing them up. Let a knowledgeable and dedicated toxic tort attorney with the necessary capabilities and tools be a vigorous ally in your fight for justice.
Posted in Toxic Torts
Tagged dangerous substance, defective products, oil spill, personal injury lawsuit