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Legal Responsibility for Toxic Exposure

Sometimes, things are easy to figure out. In some personal injury cases, the responsible party is clear. For example, if you slip and fall on a wet floor at the supermarket, the supermarket owner will be liable for your injuries. However, in toxic exposure cases, it can be challenging to determine who is at fault for your injuries.

Product Liability Law and Toxic Exposure

If you suffer harm due to toxic exposure, you'll probably need to file a product liability lawsuit. Product liability claims apply to injuries you suffer from a defective or dangerous product.

Your product liability attorney must demonstrate that the defective product is responsible for your injuries. They can do this by showing a design defect exists for the product or providing evidence that a manufacturing defect exists. It all depends on the facts of your case.

In most product liability cases, the courts apply strict liability. This means you don't have to prove any wrongdoing by the defendants. The other standard the court may apply is negligence.

Negligence and Toxic Tort Cases

The court may apply negligence to your toxic tort claim. This is true whether it's an individual or a class action lawsuit. If a company is responsible for releasing toxic chemicals into the environment, people who live near the defendant's factory or plant may suffer chemical exposure.

To prove that the factory owner is negligent, your toxic tort lawyer must demonstrate the following:

  • The defendant had a duty to keep you safe
  • They breached this duty by emitting dangerous chemicals into the air
  • You suffered an injury
  • Your injuries are a direct result of the defendant's breach of duty

It's harder to prove negligence than you may think. This is why plaintiff's injury lawyers often pursue a strict liability claim.

Whom Will You Sue for Toxic Exposure?

Toxic tort cases are hard to prove. Most victims hire an attorney. For instance, you may need to sue more than one party.

Depending on the facts of your case, you may need to pursue some or all of the below parties for toxic exposure:

  • Manufacturers
  • Retailers
  • Suppliers
  • Management companies
  • Contractors
  • Property owners

Your personal injury lawyer may pursue some or all of the insurance carriers of the above.

Suing the Manufacturer of a Toxic Product

Under strict liability, you can sue the manufacturer who sold the toxic product that hurt you. You don't need to prove that the manufacturer was negligent. All you must prove is that the defendant's product was unreasonably dangerous.

If toxic fumes cause your injury, the court may deem the product that generated the fumes defective. You can file a strict liability action against the companies that designed, manufactured, sold, or furnished the product.

You can also sue the manufacturer based on negligence, breach of warranty, breach of contract, or intentional, wrongful conduct.

The Supplier of a Toxic Product

Even though a supplier or distributor doesn't manufacture a particular product, the court can still hold it liable. As with most personal injury cases, the critical question is whether the supplier had a duty of care to protect consumers from toxins.

Sometimes, this duty of care means providing adequate warnings and safety information. In other instances, it means not selling the consumer product at all.

Contractors and Other Users

Someone other than the manufacturer may be responsible for your injuries. For example, if a contractor uses a toxic substance to build a house, the contractor may negligently expose you to asbestos. If so, the court may hold the contractor liable for any injuries you incur from your exposure to asbestos.

It's also common to sue the owners of power plants and factories for exposure to hazardous chemicals. For example, if a local factory releases dangerous substances into the soil or groundwater, it can be liable for injuries.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) governs the release of toxic substances into the air, water, and ground. Your attorney may use EPA reports to help prove wrongdoing in your lawsuit.

Property Owners

Building owners have a legal responsibility to maintain a safe building. If a building owner fails to do this, the building owner may be liable for any injuries to tenants or visitors that result from the owner's negligence.

Plaintiffs have sued building owners for failing to remove toxic mold from buildings. Building owners have also been liable for failing to remove asbestos and lead-based paint.

Your Employer

In most cases, if you suffer an injury due to toxic exposure at work, rather than filing a lawsuit against your employer, you will file a workers' compensation claim. There are exceptions to this rule. You may still be able to recover damages against a third party. An experienced attorney can address your questions and explain your options.

Toxic Exposure Injuries - Getting Legal Help

If you believe you suffered an injury due to toxic exposure, seek immediate medical attention. It's helpful to speak with an experienced toxic torts attorney to discuss your options and protect your rights.

You must talk to an attorney before the statute of limitations period expires. If you miss your state's filing deadline, the courts will dismiss your case, and you won't be able to pursue damages.

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Contact a qualified product liability attorney to make sure your rights are protected.

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