Toxic Tort Lawyer Careers

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Americans are exposed to numerous toxic chemicals every day.  In fact, there are more than eighty thousand synthetic chemicals registered for use today with the US Environmental Protection Agency. Toxic tort cases arise from people’s exposure to these toxic chemicals, pharmaceuticals, consumer products and certain environmental factors and the serious diseases that follow.

The majority of toxic tort cases are brought forth due to asbestos exposure in occupational settings. Although Americans are exposed to thousands of chemicals daily, the exposure is to trace amounts. Whereas industrial employees are frequently exposed to much higher levels of chemicals which puts them at greater risk of developing diseases.

Pharmaceutical cases are often class action lawsuits brought against drug manufacturers, distributors and the prescribing physicians. Exposure to mold, toxic construction materials and pesticides in the home can become toxic tort cases as well. In addition, exposure to environmental toxins in the air or water has recently brought forth numerous new cases.

Educational Requirements

Toxic tort lawyers must have received a bachelor’s degree, attended law school and obtained a Juris Doctor. In order to practice law in the state of their choice, they types of lawyers must pass the bar exam. During the average three years spent at law school, it is advisable to pursue internships and other opportunities giving them exposure to the field of toxic law.

Specific courses should also be taken in law school such as environmental and toxic law, covering toxic contamination of water, air, and the earth as well as toxic substances marketed for human use. In addition, investigations of theories of liability, causation and injury issues, defenses, and other issues relevant to toxic exposure.

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Job Description & Skills Required

A toxic tort lawyer specializes in cases involving exposure to these hazardous chemicals. They either represent the injured plaintiff(s) or the defendant, usually the manufacturer of the product, drug or chemical. A toxic tort lawyer can be classified under personal injury lawyers. The toxic tort lawyer’s job is to thoroughly research their client’s claims. This involves gathering and analyzing medical records. They review related cases, advise their clients at every phase and negotiate settlements with corporate defendants or the plaintiff(s). Many corporations prefer to settle out of court whenever possible.

Toxic tort cases can be quite complex. They require thorough research skills, some medical knowledge and a background in toxicology, the study of the adverse effects of chemicals on living organisms. A mastery of specific federal laws like the Occupational Health and Safety Act along with an understanding of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s regulations are of great benefit to a lawyer in this field.

Many toxic tort lawyers will specialize in one type of toxic tort claim. For example, they may primarily assist asbestos cases and be exceptionally knowledgeable about the toxin and resulting diseases. The key for toxic tort lawyers is to link the harmful toxic exposure to the victim’s specific illness. Often, this requires establishing an expert witness through a complete investigation of all the data to support their case.

Toxic Tort Lawyer Salary & Career Outlook

Between 2021 to 2031, the law profession as a whole is projected to grow ten percent. The median annual wage for legal occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, was $77,200 as of May 2022.

The career outlook for toxic tort lawyers appears favorable. Due to the increasing amounts of chemical exposures, there is a rise in toxic tort cases. Asbestos litigations dominated the scene in the 1980s and 1990s but have experienced a recent decline. However, due to recent oil spills and gas drilling, there is a rise in water contamination suits being brought to the forefront.

2022 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and employment figures for Legal Support Workers, All other reflect national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed April 2023.

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