Table of Contents
- 1 Overview:
- 2 Definition of toxic chemicals:
- 3 Toxic chemicals in the environment:
- 4 Possible ways to be injured by chemicals:
- 5 Prominent symptoms of toxic chemical exposure:
- 6 Common health problems caused by toxic chemicals:
- 7 Toxicity of the chemical:
- 8 Situations where toxic tort claims can arise:
- 9 Employer’s culpability in handling toxic chemicals:
- 10 Toxic tort law and its principles:
- 11 FAQs on toxic chemical injury-related claim suit:
- 12 Conclusion:
In the race of developing nations, various new chemicals are formulated to create a wide variety of products. Even though useful in one way, these things can be highly toxic to the environment and health of the people. Exposure to a toxic chemical, in the long run, could cause infertility problems, respiratory issues, cancer, and other health problems.
The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) is formed to monitor the production, processing, sales, use, and disposal of hazardous chemicals in the United States. Even then, the hazardous chemical substances in daily use products at home or work continue to harm people, sometimes without their knowledge. In such situations, you can pursue a toxic tort claim, which covers the injuries caused by exposure to a toxic chemical.
Definition of toxic chemicals:
The chemicals which are hazardous to nature and our health are toxic chemicals. The toxicity in each chemical differs based on its concentration, composition, and frequency of exposure.
From the strong and pungent smell, eye irritation, skin rashes or irritation, breathing difficulties, you can sense the presence of the toxic chemical in your proximity.
Toxic chemicals in the environment:
- Arsenic is found naturally in rocks
- Mercury and Lead
- Air pollutants
- Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
Possible ways to be injured by chemicals:
The toxic chemicals can harm the human through
- Inhalation of toxins spread in the air
- Ingestion of toxic substances through the contaminated food, water, or other materials
- Prolonged contact with skin, which enables the toxin to be absorbed through the skin into the blood
- Accidental piercing of sharp objects injecting the toxin into the body
Prominent symptoms of toxic chemical exposure:
Some of the common symptoms created by chemical exposures are eye and skin irritation, burns, headache, breathing difficulties, cough, weakness, loss of consciousness, seizures, variations in blood pressure, and heartbeat.
Common health problems caused by toxic chemicals:
- Asbestos exposure can be toxic and can even cause cancer. Long exposure like inhalation or ingestion of mineral fibers of asbestos for a long period can make the trapped fibers cause cancer (mesothelioma) and respiratory diseases.
- Excessive exposure to lead, mercury, cadmium, and monosodium glutamate causes brain damages and nerve damages.
- Bleach, ammonia, toilet cleaners, cleaning liquids, concrete, can cause mild to severe burns.
- Exposure to certain acids such as sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, acetic acid, etc., can cause eye irritation. If the cornea of the eye is affected, it may result in blindness.
- Exposure to the carcinogen, Benzene can result in leukemia and other types of cancers.
Toxicity of the chemical:
The toxicity of the chemical creates injuries, like mere irritations to severe as death based on different factors.
- Method: Based on the route of exposure, like ingestion, inhalation, injection, or contact, the toxicity differs.
- Quantity: The quantity of the chemical ingested or inhaled is a prominent factor. The more the chemical, the more grave the injuries become.
- Frequency: The frequency of exposure to the toxic chemical adds more injury in a short time. Prolonged exposure to the chemical slowly increases the deposits in the body and brings out grave injuries in the later stages of life. This will be like slow poison and death could not be evaded as the symptoms reveal themselves much later.
- Strength: The strength or potency of the chemical, like concentrated or diluted also decides the gravity of injuries.
Situations where toxic tort claims can arise:
Generally, toxic torts come under personal injury. However, depending on the situation and occurrence, it can be claimed under other lawsuits.
- Workplace injuries: Exposure to toxic chemicals is common in chemical industries, mining industries, leather and textile industries, metal industries, etc. Prolonged exposure to dangerous chemicals without proper protective gear can be like slow poison corroding the inner organs without the knowledge of the employees. If you are affected by chemicals at the workplace, you can go for a workers’ compensation claim for your injuries.
- At home: In rare cases, human beings can be injured due to the growth of toxic molds at home. Due to the leakage of water, toxic molds will be formed and create health issues. These are new types of tort litigations, where the property owner, builder, or contractor can be sued for breach of contract or warranty.
- Pharmaceutical drugs: Most of the medicines can become toxic if consumed more than the recommended dosage. Depending on the combination of medicines taken together, they can turn toxic when they react with one another. Consumption of expired drugs also can be dangerous. If a patient is affected by overdosage of medicine prescribed or administered by the medical provider or distribution of expired medicine by the pharmacist is an offense. It can be claimed under medical malpractice law.
- Consumer products: The presence of toxic substances in consumer products such as metal cleaners, toilet cleaners, bleach, hand sanitizers, etc., can affect human beings. Accidental consumption of such hazardous chemicals can result in death. In such instances, individuals can sue the manufacturers under the product liability claim.
- Environmental: Careless disposal of chemical wastes in water bodies will contaminate them and spoil that area’s groundwater. When the water is being consumed by the people and other living beings for a prolonged time, it could result in infertility issues, cancer, birth defects, etc. Therefore, the hazardous waste from chemical industries should be disposed of safely.
Even the hazardous smoke from the factories could pollute the air and harm the health of the public. Lung infections and lung cancer can result from toxic air pollutants. In such cases, you can proceed with environmental and toxic chemical exposure lawsuits.
When many people are affected by the same product or same industry, or toxic chemical explosion cases, they could file a class-action lawsuit to claim their damages.
Employer’s culpability in handling toxic chemicals:
Employers should follow OSHA’s Hazardous Communication standards to ensure the safety of the employees. Safety education programs should be conducted to educate the employees to handle the chemicals with care. Chemical containers should be labeled, and material safety data sheets should be maintained.
Chemical containers should be labeled and kept in places with proper ventilation. Safety gear like protective machine guards, safety gloves, masks, and protective clothing should be provided.
Toxins can be replaced with less hazardous materials to reduce the gravity of the injuries. Employees can be rotated with work shifts to reduce the frequency of exposure. Implement safety measures to avoid skin contact with toxic chemicals.
Toxic tort law and its principles:
A toxic tort is a part of personal injury claim suits. In case of injury or loss of life by a hazardous chemical, like industrial chemicals, pharmaceutical drugs, pesticides, or consumer products, an individual can sue the person whose negligence caused his injury under toxic tort law. When many people are affected by the same chemical, Mass tort claims occur.
Each one owes a duty to others. When this duty is breached and becomes the prominent cause of injury to others that becomes an offense. A toxic tort is like any other personal injury claim. However, it needs scientific evidence to prove the breach of duty.
This blog tries to answer your queries on hazardous chemical-related injuries and lawsuits.
- What should I do if I am injured by toxic chemical exposure at work?
Report the injury to the supervisor or the employer. If anyone witnessed your injury or exposure, collect the details and document their words. Get medical treatment immediately. Inform your medical provider about the details of the chemical you are exposed to. In case of filing a lawsuit, consult a toxic chemical injury attorney.
- Whom can I sue for my toxic chemical injuries?
If you are affected by the continuous use of consumer products, you can sue the manufacturer and sellers of the product under a product liability claim. In case of getting injuries from occupational exposure, you can claim worker’s compensation. However, only if the employer fails to provide the protective gear to safeguard you from the hazardous chemical, you can sue your employer.
- Can I sue for my current illness as a result of a previous harmful chemical exposure?
Yes, you can. Toxic tort law only considers the time of first discovery of the disease as the starting point of the 3-year time limit to sue for your past chemical exposure.
- What is the time limit to file the toxic exposure lawsuit?
The time limit to pursue a lawsuit differs from state to state. According to New York CPLR § 214-c(2), a three-year time limit starting from the first time the plaintiff discovers the exposure with his diligence is awarded to pursue the lawsuit.
- Is it easy to prove a toxic tort case?
Collecting evidence many years after the occurrence is a potential obstacle in proving toxic chemical exposure. If you can prove that you are exposed to a toxic chemical for a long time with evidence, you can win your litigation. If any scientific study proves that exposure to a particular chemical is potential enough to inflict a particular injury, that will be strong proof for the litigations related to injuries created by that substance. In such situations, the plaintiffs can gain higher restitution.
- Do I need an attorney to prove my toxic chemical exposure? Why?
Yes, you need an attorney to understand the complexities of your case. In case of prolonged exposure caused injuries, proving the causation becomes difficult due to the stale chances of collating evidence. An experienced attorney knows the nuances of toxic tort law and helps you win your claim easily.
- What damages can I claim for chemical exposure?
Generally, you can claim your past and present medical expenses, loss of wage and loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, out-of-pocket expenses, and emotional distress. However, in workers’ comp, you can’t claim emotional distress. In case you have lost your dear one to toxic chemical injuries, you can claim wrongful death compensation.
Toxic chemicals can injure us with or without our knowledge. Direct injuries can be treated immediately and claimed with enough proof. However, prolonged exposure with delayed symptoms can make your claims intricate due to the unavailability of evidence.
You need to prove that the chemical has dangerous side effects, you are exposed to the chemical for a long time and your disease is in the aftermath of continuous exposure. Gathering evidence for exposure after a long time poses a hindrance in the claim procedures.
An attorney who is proficient in toxic chemical exposure cases can analyze your case easily devise the procedure to win your claim. Medical chronology services abet your attorney in filtering the relevant medical records which fortify the claim.