The term toxic tort can refer to any type of personal injury lawsuit that involves a hazardous substance. The dangerous substances that form a toxic tort case can be man-made or natural, and exposure can occur anywhere.
Many companies improperly dispose of highly hazardous materials that sicken individuals or cause cancer. Individuals who are harmed by chemical exposure are entitled to compensation for their injuries. Compensation in a toxic tort case typically includes medical expenses, lost wages and usually punitive damages against the person or entity that caused the chemical exposure.
Classes of Toxic Tort Cases
Common types of toxic tort cases include:
- Pharmaceutical exposure: Defective drugs are one of the leading sources of toxic exposure in the United States. Many drugs are inadequately tested and drugmakers often fail to sufficiently warn consumers of the dangerous potential side effects of new pharmaceuticals.
- Hazardous wastes: Many manufacturers and facilities such as dry cleaners fail to properly dispose of the hazardous substances they create. When these substances contaminate the environment or otherwise poison individuals, these businesses and their successors may be liable.
- Pesticides: The irresponsible use of pesticides is another common source of illness and toxic exposure. Sustained exposure to pesticides over time may give rise to serious respiratory illnesses and cancer.
- Consumer products: Any type of consumer product from food to children's toys can contain toxic substances. Lead-based paint and tobacco are two common types of toxic consumer products.
- Industrial and building materials: Many building materials can sicken workers and building inhabitants. Asbestos insulation and manganese from welding rods are common sources of indoor toxin exposure.
Specific Toxic Substances
Toxic substances that have formed the basis of widespread litigation include:
The attorneys at Humphrey, Farrington & McClain have won some of the most high-profile environmental exposure cases in the country. In one class action, our firm represented about 650 Joplin, Missouri, residents who were poisoned by groundwater that was contaminated by a manufacturer who dumped TCE on their property.
TCE is a man-made volatile organic chemical used as a solvent, often for removing grease from metal parts.
TCE enters the body through skin contact or when a person breathes air or drinks water containing TCE. TCE can cause cancer and central nervous system changes, including unconsciousness, bodily injury and death.
Beryllium is a relatively rare chemical element often used to strengthen metals. Workers in mining, metal alloy processing and aerospace manufacturing industries are at the greatest risk for being exposed to beryllium. Many workers in manufacturing plants that use beryllium develop lung diseases and cancer from inhaling beryllium dust.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was used in thousands of products for its heat-resistant properties. When asbestos is disturbed, it can release small fibers into the air that can be inhaled or ingested and cause a dangerous type of cancer called mesothelioma. Manufacturers of asbestos products can be held liable for medical costs and other damages suffered by people who develop mesothelioma after exposure to their products.
Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable, strong-smelling chemical used in building materials and in the manufacture of many household products. It is frequently used in pressed-wood products such as particleboard, plywood and fiberboard; glues and adhesives; permanent-press fabrics; paper product coatings; and certain insulation materials. It is also commonly used as an industrial fungicide, germicide and disinfectant and as a preservative in mortuaries and medical laboratories. Exposure to formaldehyde, at any level, can cause a host of health problems, including cancer of the throat and/or nose, coma, convulsions, intense pain in the mouth and stomach, nausea, vomiting, signs of shock, vertigo, stupor, diarrhea, rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, bronchitis, allergic skin reactions and death due to respiratory failure. Direct contact with the eyes can cause permanent eye damage or loss of vision.
Prolonged exposure to benzene on a job site has been linked to workers developing types of lifelong and fatal leukemia. Benzene in the blood system infects cells that become cancerous in the bone marrow and spread throughout the body. Certain areas of the country have high rates of cancer caused by working with contaminated soil or products made with benzene.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are chemicals that are typically oily clear or yellow liquids that form a white, crystalline hard resin when mixed together. PCB products are often used by the electrical product manufacturers for wrapping and insulating electric cables and wires. PCBs are also used heavily in foundries.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that there were nearly 50 contamination events involving the hazardous release of PCBs in Missouri between 1994 and 1998. PCB exposure has been linked to short-term respiratory problems and long-term liver and digestive problems.
National Toxic Tort Litigation Lawyers
The toxic tort attorneys at Humphrey, Farrington & McClain have the resources and skills to represent individuals across the country. They have represented clients impacted by environmental contamination and other toxic torts in 17 states, including Missouri, Kansas, Texas, Minnesota and Ohio.
If you have suffered serious injuries from a toxic substance and want to learn about your legal rights, contact our toxic tort attorneys online or call 888-353-0491.