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Causation in Toxic Torts Claims

Toxic torts claims typically arise when a person is exposed to a toxic substance at work or through consumer products, pharmaceutical drugs, or the environment. Employers, manufacturers, and suppliers may all be held liable for any injuries resulting from such toxic exposure.

Those who suffer bodily injury or death due to environmental toxins may even be able to hold the appropriate government entity liable for its negligent acts or omissions, according to the exceptions to immunity under the Delaware Tort Claims Act. Although toxic tort cases vary greatly, all plaintiffs must prove the same basic elements in order to prevail, the most challenging of which is causation.

Elements of a Toxic Tort Case

In toxic tort claims against an individual, corporation, or government entity, a plaintiff must prove three basic elements:

  • Dangerous substance: The substance in question must be dangerous, which is typically established through expert testimony.
  • Exposure: The plaintiff must have been exposed to the substance in question, either at home, at work, or through ingestion.
  • Harm: The substance in question must have caused harm to the plaintiff in the form of either physical injury or illness.

Challenges of Proving Causation

Often, the most challenging element of a toxic tort case is to prove causation. Even if it is established that the substance is toxic and that the plaintiff was exposed to it, plaintiffs will not be able to recover unless they can prove that the substance caused their injury or illness.

Plaintiffs must be able to show that their injury or illness would not have resulted otherwise. This can be challenging due to the variety of potential causes for illnesses. For example, someone may develop lung cancer from exposure to asbestos in the workplace, but they may also develop it from smoking cigarettes.

Further compounding the issue is the long latency period associated with certain diseases like mesothelioma, which can take up to 50 years to manifest. Given the typical two-year statute of limitations on personal injury cases, many toxic tort plaintiffs would be barred from recovery. However, courts recognize this complication and follow the discovery rule, which is that time does not start running on the statute of limitations until the plaintiff actually discovers the harm.

Creating a Successful Toxic Tort Claim

To create a successful toxic tort claim, plaintiffs must be able to overcome the hurdles associated with causation. Some ways they can do so include:

  • Having solid medical testimony from medical experts showing the link between the toxic substance and the plaintiff’s injury or illness.
  • Showing the prevalence of similar illnesses in those who were exposed to the same toxic substance.
  • Obtaining evidence of the toxic exposure, such as pictures, records, product recalls or other public warnings.

Georgetown Toxic Tort Lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. Advocate for Those Injured by Dangerous Products or Substances

If you were injured by a dangerous product or toxic substance, contact one of our Georgetown toxic tort lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. today. Our dedicated attorneys will fight to get you the compensation you deserve from those responsible for your toxic exposure. Contact us online or call us at 302-656-5445 for a free consultation. From our offices in Wilmington and Millsboro, Delaware, we serve clients throughout the state including those in Dover, New Castle County, and Sussex County.