If an illness arises from pharmaceuticals, should you file a toxic tort case or a medical malpractice suit? If you develop symptoms after taking a drug, you may be a victim of some form of negligence. You can consult a lawyer, who will need guidance from a forensic toxicologist or a similar professional, in determining what type of lawsuit to file.
If the pharmaceutical is defective in nature, then a toxic tort could be more appropriate. In cases like this, the defect may have risen from the manufacturing process of the drug. There could be a dangerous imbalance of ingredients, a use of incorrect or expired compounds, a contaminated medium, etc. The manufacturer or distributor would be liable for the injurious side effects that victims suffer. Usually, mass torts are filed in cases of defective drugs, involving the individuals that have taken the drugs.
On the other hand, if a drug has been inappropriately prescribed by a doctor, then a medical malpractice may be in order. When a doctor misjudges a patient’s condition, he/she may issue treatments that are unnecessary or unsuitable. The erroneous treatment would not be provide the right treatment, which can be financially costly at best, and physically damaging or even fatal at worst. Whatever effect the wrong prescription brings, the doctor can be held responsible for it.
When a personal injury lawsuit or a tort case involves the possibility of people being exposed to some harmful and potentially lethal chemicals, lawyers need to call on environmental toxicology experts to help them build their case.
Environmental toxicology experts bank on specialized knowledge acquired through continuing professional education, along with years of invaluable experience. They carefully perform tests and, in much detail, document the methodology employed, as well as the results of it, for the court’s appreciation. An expert toxicologist also appears before a judge or jurors to explain his findings and give an expert opinion regarding the medical and scientific facts and assumptions of a particular case.
One major legal battle that heavily relied on the services of toxicologists is the case of the people of Hinkley versus Pacific Gas and Electric Company, brought to fame by a firm paralegal named Erin Brockovich. That case alleged – and proved through toxicology reports, among others – that PG&E have indeed exposed the Hinkley residents to the pollutant chromium 6. The landmark case landed an enormous $333 million settlement in 1996, and inspired a Hollywood movie starring Julia Roberts. More than that, it highlighted how science and experts were helpful in delivering justice before the court of law.
In any fight for justice that involves hazardous materials, no lawyer or plaintiffs can stand before judge and jury to prove their case without the help of an expert witness. Environmental toxicology experts can be their partners to achieve true justice.
Traces of illegal substances found in a person’s blood are often red flags for a person who may be under suspicion by the police. Many illegal substances may be perceived as adding a bigger high to the person when the evidence points at more grim circumstances. It is up to a forensic toxicologist to discover which illegal substances are in a suspect’s bloodstream and how much has been ingested.
Analgesics like morphine can be found in your blood between six to eight hours after ingestion but take up to three days until it exits with the urine. Amphetamines, heroin, and codeine stay in the bloodstream for up to 12 hours and are out with the urine in no more than three days.
Some drugs take a long time to stay in the blood and even longer to be flushed out in the urine, upping the chances of traces being detected if a suspect underwent a checkup. Crystal meth stays in the blood between 24 hours to 72 hours, depending on the method of administration, while being taken out in the urine in between three to six days. Cannabis takes the longest to leave the system– tetrahydrocannabinol lingers in the blood for two weeks and stays in your urine for the next month.
Determining the drugs found in the bloodstream can work in an investigation. They may even work as evidence for other related drug cases.
“In general, physical injury cases are easy to sort out in terms of what exactly happened to whom, like a victim who suffered fractured limbs from a car accident for instance. Toxic tort cases, on the other hand, are rarely as telling.
Most of the time, for an attorney to successfully give justice to his client, a reliable medical expert witness should be hired. Here are some basic facts about the technical realm of toxic tort claims and litigation that every lawyer should arm themselves with.”
“Calling in the Cavalry
This is when expert witnesses like Dr. Nachman Brautbar of Environmental Diseases are called in. Whether it be for the prosecution or the defense, witnesses who are certified experts on forensic toxicology can review the DUI testing process in every stage, and they will find out if there was indeed any flaw in the procedure which could significantly influence the verdict.
If DUI offenders are getting smarter, then prosecutors’ job of delivering justice just got tougher. Thankfully, they can still rely on the services of a reputable, expert forensic toxicologist to ensure that the medical aspects of a DUI case process is done right and free of potential conviction-reversing flaws.”
Humanity doesn’t always bring about its own plagues – sometimes, even naturally occurring substances can be just as deadly as man-made toxic wastes and pollutants. A lot of people may not be aware of it, but some metals can pose a serious threat to the health of an individual or a group of people, and nickel, despite its plethora of uses, is one of the causes of many common environmental diseases today.
Toxic tort is a type of lawsuit that deals with a person or entity having harmed an individual or a group via exposure to particularly dangerous chemicals – a common example of which would be a company illegally dumping hazardous waste near a residential area, causing the people therein to be sick. As a paralegal of your law firm, you should familiarize yourself with the tasks involved when handling such a case. For instance, you might be called upon to look for a forensic toxicology professional to stand as an expert witness.
A reliable forensic toxicologist, like one from Environmental Diseases, can definitely be a great asset in helping your client.
Toxic tort cases can be tricky, and it takes a lot of medical knowledge and expertise to win one. You, as the trusty paralegal, have an important role in making sure that your firm and your clients get the justice they deserve.