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Who Can Be Held Accountable for Toxic Exposure?

  • Potentially hazardous and toxic materials can be found everywhere ... in the workplace, in homes and in the products we use. Exposure to chemicals and toxins can cause serious bodily harm, especially when the exposure is long-term. The effects of exposure to dangerous toxic chemicals and other substances can lead to severe and sometimes fatal illnesses and chronic and often painful conditions, including lung diseases, cancer, organ damage, reproductive problems, birth defects, and even a loss of motor skills. When someone contracts an illness or condition because of toxic exposure, they often face mounting medical bills and may lose their ability to work for a period of time or possibly for the rest of their lives. Those people who die from their illnesses may leave their families without financial providers and without their love, comfort and care.


    Understanding who can be held accountable for toxic exposure can help suffering individuals and the families of those who have passed on know where to turn for potential financial relief through a legal claim, or toxic tort liability. A tort is a wrongful act that results in harm to someone. Here are just a few examples of toxins that have been proven to cause harm.


    In the Workplace


    A well-known toxin, asbestos, has been on the radar for many years for causing mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer. Many people still suffer from its effects. While it is not present in newer structures, it may still exist in older buildings. Other workplace toxins include silica dust, lead dust and other fine dust particles that can lead to lung diseases and cancer. The petrochemical benzene, used to create plastics and polymers, has been linked to leukemia and lymphoma. Other common workplace chemicals have also been linked to illnesses.


    At Home


    Older homes may still have lead paint, which can lead to brain damage, especially in children. Contaminated water from lead pipes in a home that haven’t been replaced and nearby fracking operations are additional examples of how toxins can invade the home. Mold in the home is also a toxin and can cause breathing problems. While it develops from damp conditions rather than from a chemical or other toxic substance, its presence may mean that the property hasn’t been properly built or maintained, which allowed for dampness and then mold to develop. Long-term exposure to pesticides and herbicides used by home gardeners can lead to liver damage and other illnesses.


    Toxic Tort Liability


    Who should be held accountable for toxic exposure? While it might seem obvious that the developers and manufacturers of toxic products should be liable for the illnesses caused by their products, there are also others who may share liability. Other entities and individuals who may be liable when someone is injured because of a toxic material include distributors of hazardous substances; transporters of these substances; employers who allowed workers to be exposed to dangerous toxins; landlords who allowed dangerous conditions, such as mold, to exist in housing units; property owners who store hazardous materials; home contractors; and others.


    Toxic tort liability cases are extremely complex because they involve not only legal and medical issues, but science-related issues as well. It is wise for people who believe they have been exposed to a toxic substance to consult with a reputable attorney experienced in toxic tort law as soon as they are aware of the potential danger. Even though illnesses and injuries from toxic exposure often take years to show up, there are statutes of limitations on filing claims. An experienced attorney can review the facts and advise potential victims of toxic substances as to whether they may have a claim and the process for filing one.