How can I prove fault in a toxic tort case?

Tort law, in general, reimburses members of society who have suffered losses due to the dangerous or intentional behavior of others. It identifies civil wrongs and outlines consequences for those who intentionally interfere with another person's body, property or reputation. Tort law also allows members of society to seek compensation when a party fails to exercise reasonable care.

A toxic tort is a law specific type of personal injury law that protects people who are harmed or killed by exposure to a hazardous or dangerous substance that caused the injury or disease. Victims are able to sue the liable party for their damages including their medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Victims can include:

  • Corporations

  • Individuals

  • Contractors

  • Innocent bystander

  • Residents in an affected area


Toxic substances that are extremely damaging to your health include:

  • Industrial chemicals

  • Environmental toxins

  • Lead-based paint

  • Pesticides

  • Pharmaceutical drugs

What is strict liability?

“Strict liability” means liability even in the absence of fault or criminal intent on the behalf of the defendant. This means that the defendant is liable for harm that their actions or behavior caused and is legally responsible for that conduct even if there was no misconduct by the defendant. Strict liability is important in both tort law and criminal law to discourage abnormally dangerous activities or high-risk environments.

Manufacturers, sellers, and retailers are liable for defects in the manufacturing process when they cause an injury. When a mistake happens with a piece of machinery or on the assembly line and it’s not fixed before it gets to the consumer, then a product could potentially lead to that consumer's injury or death. Again, it’s important to remember that manufacturers or sellers of those products can be held strictly liable for injuries those products cause regardless of any fault or negligence.

Manufacturers, sellers, and retailers that can also be held strictly liable for cases of breach of warranty. This is when a product fails to behave the way the manufacturer or seller said that it would and results in injuries, even in the absence of showing negligence or fault.


If a person suffers from health issues because of the negligence of others, such as a construction business owner who fails to inform their employees that they are working with asbestos or other harmful chemicals, then they can sue the other party for damages. Such as workers who have inhaled or come in contact with asbestos. Negligence also occurs when there is owed a duty of care to the victim who is injured anyway through equipment failure or a failure to abide by safety protocols. In these cases, the negligent party is either the employer, a third-party company, or other employees.

Proving Fault in a Toxic Tort Case

In order to claim any damages, the victim must prove that not only were they exposed to a dangerous substance but that the defendant knew about or had some control over the plaintiff’s exposure to that substance, and that the exposure is what caused the defendant's injuries.

Proving “Exposure”

The discovery phase of a case is when an attorney gathers evidence and documents to prove a toxic tort claim. This includes gathering testimony from experts, depositions and discovering all the other facts about a case. The attorney's goal is to prove causation even if exposure to the toxic substance took place over several years, or was it several years in the past. Some substances have been known to cause significant injury and plaintiffs have received damages in these cases. They include:

  • Asbestos

  • Pesticides such as DDT

  • Pharmaceuticals such as benzenes

  • Chemicals such as mercury and arsenic

For more information, contact a toxic tort lawyer in your area.

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