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What Are Catastrophic Toxic Tort Cases In California?

A tort is a common law claim. It is a civil, not criminal, wrong (other than a breach of contract) that has caused an individual to suffer a loss or harm and results in legal liability for the person who committed the tortious act. The toxic aspect of a toxic tort case pertains to a substance or material that causes injury, whether from an initial exposure, a one-time exposure, or exposure over an extended time.

California has led the way in toxic tort litigation. Some of the most significant toxic tort cases have been litigated in California, including some of the largest jury verdicts awarded in those cases and even famous cases like the one depicted in the Erin Brockovich movie. California has been at the forefront of both the litigation aspects and the regulatory aspects of toxic tort.

What Are The Essential Elements Of A Tort?

There are three basic types of tort claim: intentional tort, negligence, and strict liability. The essential elements vary based on the tort claim. The most common, negligence, requires, for example, a standard of care, a breach in the standard of care, and that the breach in duty was a substantial factor in causing the damages. An excellent way to think about how to determine if an act was negligent is to ask, “Was there a safer choice?” If the answer is “yes,” then the act was negligent (subject to a few exceptions, because, let’s face it, there are always exceptions).

What Are Common Causes Of Toxic Tort Injuries?

The most common cause of toxic tort injuries is exposure to a toxic substance. Depending on the substance, the exposure can occur over a long time or during a single event. For example, a single asbestos exposure can lead to mesothelioma. Other toxic exposure injuries don’t manifest themselves until after years of exposure. For example, asbestos and other cancer-causing toxic substances usually require constant or sustained exposure.

Three factors that are important to examine when you are looking at a toxic tort injury are 1) the frequency of the exposure (how often you were exposed), 2) the duration of the exposure (how long each exposure lasted), and 3) the proximity of the exposure (how close you were to the toxic substance when you were exposed).

What Legal Theories Support A Toxic Tort Claim?

There are two main legal theories: negligence and strict liability.

What Needs To Be Proven In A Negligence Claim?

Negligence claims require you to show that there was a duty or standard of care, breach of that duty, or that the actions fell below that standard of care, and that the breach or falling below the standard of care caused the damages.

What Needs To Be Proven In A Strict Liability Claim?

A strict liability claim compresses the first two elements of a negligence claim. The principle is that if you buy a product and get injured by using that product, the manufacturer or anybody in the stream of commerce or distribution is liable if they caused your damages. In other words, if you manufacture a product and put it into the stream of commerce, you are presumed to have a duty by definition, so if your product causes an injury, you have breached that duty. A plaintiff would still have to prove causation and damages.

What Is The Difference Between Strict Liability And Negligence?

The difference is in the first two elements. In negligence, you have to show that the individual or corporation you are complaining of had a duty to you that they then breached, or they had a standard of care they were supposed to maintain that they fell below. A way to think about negligence is needless endangerment.

How Do You Prove Intentional Misrepresentation Or Fraud Damages?

Intentional misrepresentation is a false representation made by an individual or entity knowing or understanding it was false at the time. Fraud is very similar; it’s a misrepresentation of a material fact when the party knew that the representation was inaccurate or false and made with the intent the other party relies on the representation. The critical point is that both intentional misrepresentation and fraud fall under the category of intentional torts. In other words, you have to show that the individual intended to make the misrepresentation or intended for a person to rely on the misrepresentation to their detriment.

For more information on Catastrophic Toxic Tort Cases in California, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (855) 675-2901 today.

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