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Defective Products / 11.30.2018

Are Toxic Torts Difficult to Prove?

If you’ve ever been the victim of toxic exposure, you know how painful and infuriating these cases can be. Often caused by corporate negligence, toxic exposure can come in the form of unsafe medications, defective products, environmental damages, and much more. Once released into the marketplace or the environment, toxic exposure has the potential to affect thousands of lives and wreak havoc on local communities.

However, as easy as it might seem on the surface to challenge these negligent actions, bringing a toxic tort case to fruition can be difficult. There are many obstacles that companies, insurers, and the defendant’s attorneys will throw in your path, added to the fact that the burden of proof can be difficult to meet. With the right Mississippi toxic tort attorney, however, you may be able to find some measure of compensation and justice for yourself, your family, and your community.

In this post, our team at Richard Schwartz & Associates Injury Lawyer, P.A., will review some of the challenges you’ll face when you bring a complex toxic tort case.

Challenge #1: Endless Corporate Resources

When you need to bring a case against a major company, especially in the pharmaceutical, insurance, or agricultural industries, you can expect that they will use the full arsenal of resources at their disposal to deny your claim. Companies that routinely ignore issues in favor of profit are often well-equipped to face down individual consumers who are affected by negligence.

This means that your evidence needs to be rock solid, perhaps more so than in any other type of case. Expert witnesses are one way to combat these issues, by making sure that the science behind your claims has been proven and well-substantiated. Many defendants will now practice “carpet bombing,” meaning that the other side will prepare an expert witness for every expert witness you provide. That’s why it’s so critical to come fully armed with the honest facts of the case, and with the right expert testimonies to support the evidence.

Challenge #2: Clearly Demonstrating the Cause of Action

The burden of proof in any civil case is a “preponderance of the evidence.” This means you must show that any reasonable person would probably think, based on the evidence, that your claim was the correct one. While this burden is much lower than in a criminal trial, which requires “beyond a reasonable doubt” as a standard, this can still be an incredibly high bar in toxic exposure cases.

Why? Because environmental factors are complex, and corporate politics and processes are perhaps even more so. To show fault, you need to have a solid understanding of where the other side failed to perform their duty of care.

If you’re pursuing a defective drug case, for example, you need to know if it was the manufacturer, the marketing consultants, or the CEO who failed to properly warn consumers about the dangerous side effects. To show that a company ruined your home through the process of fracking, you need to break down how fracking can harm nearby residents. Failing to clearly demonstrate the cause-and-effect relationship between an organization and the toxic exposure in question will prevent you from obtaining a successful outcome.

Challenge #3: Helping the Jury Understand the Damages Claimed

When successful, toxic tort cases can often result in large settlements, distributed between multiple parties. Because of this fact, the jury may often be wary to award plaintiffs with the full amount, even if they are found to be relatively unbiased during the process ofvoir dire, or jury selection.

To be successful with the jury (or a judge), you must be clear and reasonable in your explanations, and make a strong case for why the damages claimed necessitate major financial recovery. Make sure that your attorney is well-prepared for a jury trial, as the defendants in cases like these will certainly come prepared for a court battle.

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