Last updated on November 14th, 2021
A tort is a civil wrong that is caused as a result of another person’s carelessness or negligence. The civil wrong could refer to a physical injury, mental anguish, financial loss or any other type of damage.
A toxic tort is a legal claim that can be filed for injury resulting from exposure to a hazardous substance. You should talk to an experienced solicitor and exercise your right to make a toxic tort compensation claim if you believe you have been exposed to a hazardous substance at work or in a public place, through no fault of your own.
What Types Of Hazardous Substances Are Covered In Toxic Tort Claims?
The term ‘hazardous substances’ applies to a wide range of substances and preparations that occur in a variety of forms including solids, liquids, gases, vapours and fumes. Regardless of the nature of the substance, it is regarded as hazardous if it can potentially cause harm when ingested, inhaled, absorbed by or comes in contact with the skin or any other body membrane.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has imposed workplace exposure limits for 400 toxic substances in the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health 2002 (COSHH) Act.
Some hazardous substances that people are more commonly exposed to are:
- Pesticides such as DDT and dioxin
- Dry cleaning and other solvents used for cleaning
- Lead-based paints used on various surfaces
- Toxic landfill waste
- Asbestos fibres from old construction materials
- Electromagnetic fields from major appliances
- Acids and other corrosive liquids
The type of injury and the symptoms depend on the potential source of the exposure.
Legal Aspects Of Exposure To Hazardous Substances In The Workplace
All workers have a right to work in a healthy, risk-free workplace. If hazardous substances or toxins are present in or around the workplace, the law requires that employers MUST provide their workers with detailed information about the relevant substance. This information must be easily accessible to workers as well as emergency personnel so that proper procedures may be followed in case of accidental exposure.
In addition, employers must also provide workers with proper training in handling the substances. All workers must also be provided with appropriate personal protective gear such as ventilators, masks, gloves or boots, to minimise exposure to the toxins.
Where possible, the material, equipment or process in use must be substituted by a similar but less toxic alternative.
These are just a few of the most basic safety precautions that employers are expected to meet to protect their workers from exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace. Should the employer fail in their responsibility and you are injured as a result, you have a right to be compensated for your injuries.
What To Do Immediately After Exposure To A Hazardous Substance
The first thing you must do is to follow the first-aid procedure mentioned in the information sheet provided by your employer. Getting medical attention as soon as possible is just as critical so that proper counter measures can be put in place to minimise the injury. You need to go to the emergency ward so that qualified emergency doctors can attend to your injuries.
After getting your injuries attended to, the next thing you should do is make an appointment for a consultation with a personal injury solicitor to determine your legal rights.
Can You Make A Toxic Tort Claim?
If you are considering filing a toxic tort compensation claim for exposure to a hazardous substance in the workplace, the first thing you should do is to consult with a personal injury solicitor. While you are within your rights to file a claim for compensation for any personal injury because of negligence, winning a toxic tort claim can be far from easy.
To file a successful toxic tort claim, you need to prove that the substance was toxic, that your exposure to the substance was caused due to another person’s negligence or carelessness, and that the illness or injuries were caused from the exposure to the toxic substance.These can be challenging to prove, especially as you can expect that the offender’s legal team to also be working hard to counter your claim and show that their client was not responsible for your accidental exposure.
Personal injury solicitors who have had ample experience fighting similar claims are in the best position to help you get the compensation that is due to you.
Toxic Tort Claims Solicitors
The first consultation with any personal injury solicitor is usually free of charge. This is because the solicitor would want to hear details about the accidental exposure and the events that led up to it to determine whether or not there is a case to be answered. They will look into the incident to assess the merits of the case and determine your chances of a successful toxic tort claim. If they conclude that you were not at fault and that your injuries were caused by another person’s mistake, they would in all likelihood agree to represent you without asking you for any upfront payment, and on a No Win No Fee basis.
According to the terms of a No Win No Fee agreement, you are absolved of all financial commitments from the time you sign the contract till such time that the court makes its decision and declares a verdict. In our case, if the court decides against you, you are not liable to pay any fees at all. You are only liable to pay a fee if the toxic tort claim is successful and the court awards you compensation for your injuries. The amount that you have to pay on winning is calculated as a percentage of the amount that is awarded to you.
Exposure to hazardous substances can result in symptoms that range from mild headaches and skin irritation to more severe conditions such as brain damage, leukaemia, and lung disease. In many cases, it can be fatal. Very often, the full extent of the exposure is evident only after some time has lapsed. Your solicitor will consult with a medical expert in order to calculate the full amount that you should claim for, taking into consideration the short-term and the long-term effects of the exposure.
Most importantly, your solicitor will make certain that your case is filed within the 3-year statute of limitations to ensure that your rights are upheld.