A new article in The Regulatory Review has made the argument that personal injury plaintiffs have done a lot to help secure clean drinking water, where the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has failed.
Over the last two decades, the EPA has been slow to study and regulate specific harmful chemicals: perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). They don’t break down in the environment—instead, they collect in your drinking water, the air, the food you eat and possibly your blood. Research has shown that they can cause severe diseases, including cancer.
While the EPA dragged its heels on addressing the issue, plaintiffs, environmentalists and litigators went through the courts instead. These “toxic tort” lawsuits have made it possible to study harmful chemicals and secure remedies for the general public. The next time you hear someone scoffing at personal injury lawsuits, you can tell them that often, lawsuits are catalysts for positive change. Here’s how it can happen.
What are ‘Toxic Torts?’
Toxic torts are a subset of tort law—when harmful substances cause personal or financial injury. In the article above, attorneys sued corporations and municipalities who were responsible for PFAS’ presence in the drinking water.
Toxic tort lawsuits must establish that there was a harmful substance, the plaintiffs were exposed to the substance and suffered injury as a result. It can be difficult to prove exposure, especially since many harmful chemicals take years to build up in the body.
How Lawsuits Lead to Lasting Change
PFAS toxic tort lawsuits are unique in that the litigation led to the medical and scientific research, rather than the other way around. Normally, plaintiffs and their attorneys present trusted research that proves an element of their case. In the cases above, however, it was different.
West Virginia allows medical monitoring as a remedy, where “courts can order a defendant to pay for medical exams when plaintiffs are uninjured but have proven that they are at higher risk for certain diseases because the defendant’s actions exposed them to a toxic chemical.” Using that remedy, the parties agreed that their class action lawsuit’s settlement would depend on medical research linking PFAS to chronic disease. The defendant corporation funded the medical research.
That’s just one of the ways that personal injury lawsuits can benefit the public at large. If you’ve been exposed to harmful chemicals, call a personal injury lawyer today.
Discuss Your Case with an Ohio Class Action Lawyer Today
When you’ve been exposed to toxic chemicals, thanks to someone else’s negligence, I’ll Make Them Pay!® Whether you have grounds for a class action suit or a toxic tort case, I can help. Call me today at 877.944.4373 for a consultation.