Toxic Torts

Silva & Silva has been involved in cases where individuals and classes of individuals have suffered crippling injuries or death from exposure to toxic substances, like asbestos, mold and carbon monoxide.

Examples of toxic exposure to dangerous substances include cases involving pollution, contamination, medical, pharmaceutical, and scientific chemicals, sick building syndrome, hazardous waste, electromagnetic energy and violations of environmental regulations.

Over the last few years, a new type of litigation has evolved as a direct result of the latest medical research and publications, which have shown our everyday environment is in many instances contaminated. Sick building syndrome occurs when building occupants experience acute health effects that are apparently related to the time they spend in the building. Symptoms associated with sick building syndrome include nausea, dizziness, respiratory problems, coughing, wheezing, an eye, nose, or throat irritations to name a few. Basically, the sources for sick building syndrome break down into two major categories: 1) Heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC), and 2) contaminants. The list of contaminants is long and growing. The number one concern on the part of homeowners today is a naturally occurring gas called radon, which is currently the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Off-gases from the formaldehyde base in new carpet padding or fumes from synthetic fibers can also be irritants. Business machine off-gases and tobacco smoke add to the problem. Biological contaminants such as mildew, mold, dust mites, bacteria and pollen rank high as potential culprits. Other pollutants are hazardous airborne particulates, such as asbestos and dust from oxidizing lead paint.

Oftentimes, toxic substances affect large groups of people. Accordingly, class action lawsuits are a favored procedure for victims to pool their resources in cases against defendants with deep pockets.

To prevail in a toxic tort claim, plaintiffs must prove that:

  1. they were exposed to a dangerous substance
  2. they suffered damages as a result of the exposure; and
  3. the defendant caused his or her injuries.

Plaintiffs may recover money damages for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. In certain cases, where the defendant’s conduct is continuous and deliberate, punitive damages may be awarded. Moreover, an injunction may be obtained from the courts, forcing a defendant to stop the toxic-causing conduct.

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