There are four basic kinds: pharmaceutical cases, in which people have been injured by a badly made drug; occupational cases, in which workers are exposed to toxic chemicals while doing their jobs; home cases, in which people are injured by mold or toxic construction materials in their homes; and environmental cases, in which people are exposed to dangerous chemicals in their air or drinking water.
Some people wonder how a pharmaceutical toxic tort is different from a malpractice case: in either one, a patient is injured by treatment given by his or her doctor.
The difference is that in a toxic tort, a poorly manufactured drug is responsible for the patient's injuries.
If the doctor had no reasonable way of knowing the dangers of the drug, he or she is not liable for prescribing it.
Pharmaceutical claims are often filed by large groups of people, since drugs are widely distributed.
One of the most common types of occupational tort is filed by workers who have been exposed to asbestos, which has been linked to lung cancer and other health hazards.
Some jobs, like construction and certain kinds of factory work, involve a much higher exposure to dangerous chemicals than most people will ever experience.
A worker who develops health problems or other forms of injury due to the chemicals he or she works with may be able to file a toxic tort against a third party responsible for the injuries he or she has suffered.
If a person files for worker's compensation, she or he usually forfeits the ability to sue the employer.
Home toxic torts are relatively rare.
They can be filed by people who are injured by dangerous materials used to make their homes, or by people who buy or rent a residence that turns out to be infested with a hazardous kind of mold.
Some people consider damage to property caused by chemicals to be grounds for this kind of tort.
Environmental torts are a relatively new phenomenon.
They are generally filed against corporations that pollute the community's water or air resources.
Common chemicals named in these lawsuits are pesticides, asbestos, dioxin/agent orange, and silica.
The most common injuries suffered by plaintiffs are berylliosis (lung damage), leukemia (a kind of cancer), sarcoidosis (an immune system disorder, interstitial lung disease and silicosis.
For more information about this type of personal injury claim, contact Chicago toxic tort lawyers Friedman & Bonebrake.