Toxic Tort Litigation: Establishing Case Merit

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Toxic tort cases are often complex and require a deep understanding of scientific and medical factors — making the need for external expertise essential to their success. For the best outcomes, the plaintiff’s attorney must establish exposure to a harmful substance, show that it caused their injuries, and demonstrate that the defendant was negligent in exposing them to the substance, along with substantiating any associated damages.


When litigating a toxic tort case, the attorney must first determine that the plaintiff was exposed to a harmful substance, which can be achieved by gathering credible evidence such as medical records, environmental testing data, and witness testimony. In many cases, attorneys choose to hire an expert to testify about the exposure in more technical terms.

The Camp Lejeune litigation is a well-known example in which plaintiffs alleged exposure to contaminated water at the Marine Corps base in North Carolina, leading them to develop a variety of health problems, predominately cancer. Within these cases, the plaintiff’s attorneys would need to establish liability through expert testimony that the water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated with harmful chemicals, such as benzene and trichloroethylene.


Once liability has been determined, the attorney must show that the alleged exposure caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Demonstrating causation can be a difficult task, as it often requires expert testimony to establish the link between exposure and injury. The expert must be able to explain the scientific and medical basis for the link and how it applies to the specific case.

For instance, there has been ongoing asbestos litigation in the United States, which include construction worker asbestos lawsuits, military asbestos lawsuits, and more. During these cases, the plaintiffs allege exposure to asbestos, which can cause various health problems, including lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. The attorney typically needs an expert to then link the asbestos exposure to the plaintiff’s injuries by speaking to the medical implications of inhalation or ingestion of asbestos fibers, as well as provide further details on the medical diagnosis, health risks, scientific analysis, etc.


The plaintiff must also demonstrate that the defendant was negligent in exposing them to the harmful substance and the associated damages. Proving negligence means that the defendant knew or should have known about the dangers of the substance and failed to take reasonable steps to protect the plaintiff from exposure.

For example, PFAS, a group of man-made chemicals used in a variety of products, have been linked to many health problems. In these cases, injured parties can establish negligence by:

  • Demonstrating that the defendant breached the duty of care by not warning of the potential health risks associated with PFAS.
  • Showing that they deviated from industry regulations for safe use of PFAS.
  • Compiling records and correspondence that demonstrate the defendant’s knowledge.
  • And so on.



Guidepoint Legal Solutions can support you at any stage of toxic tort litigation, from performing a Case Merit Analysis to finding the right medical experts to provide testimony. Streamline your access to toxic tort expertise with our in-house team of physicians and our network of over 1.5 million experts, which includes experts on pharmacology, toxicology, oncology, environmental medicine, and more.

As toxic tort cases continue to emerge, turn to our suite of individual and comprehensive expert services in your pursuit of justice and the protection of public health.

If you require legal assistance for a toxic tort case, or to further understand the evolving case type, contact us today to connect with our in-house team and highly-qualified experts.
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