Possible Toxic Tort Claims For Victims In The Ohio Train Derailment
Officials continue to investigate causes, contributing factors, and other details involving the derailment of the Norfolk Southern train in East Palatine, OH on February 3, 2023. However, some of the settled facts were reported in an article published by the San Francisco Chronicle as details have become available. The incident occurred just before 9 p.m., when 38 of the freight train’s total 150 cars slipped off the track. Of these, 20 were carrying hazardous substances, including vinyl chloride, butoxyethanol, and combustible materials.
Several of the derailed freight train cars burned for days, and emergency crews conducted a controlled burn for others. The burning released hazardous materials into the air, prompting an evacuation of residents in the area. Still, many residents are concerned about the exposure, especially with respect to groundwater and air pollution. Though there have not yet been any reports of illness, the train derailment illustrates how victims may have rights. An Oakland toxic torts attorney can describe how these cases work, and an overview is useful.
What Victims Must Prove for Toxic Torts: The definition of a “toxic tort” is when a contaminant is released or victims are exposed to hazardous chemicals, causing severe medical conditions. Some high-profile toxic tort cases may be familiar, including asbestos, tobacco litigation, and the contaminated groundwater that was the subject of the film Erin Brockovich. To recover compensation, a plaintiff must show:
- He or she was exposed to a substance that causes medical ailments in those that inhale, ingest, or consume it;
- Acts by the defendant company are the reason that the plaintiff was exposed to the toxins;
- Exposure to the contaminant was the direct cause of the victim’s suffering; and,
- The victim has suffered financial, physical, and emotional losses due to the medical condition caused by the exposure.
Damages for Injured Victims and Families: Many toxic torts cases proceed as class actions, since many people are typically affected by exposure to the contaminant. With the Ohio train derailment, some class actions have already been filed to recover damages for medical monitoring. The accident was so recent that these individuals may not yet show signs of medical issues. However, they will incur losses every time they visit a doctor and go through testing for conditions like cancer and respiratory disorders.
In toxic torts cases where victims have already developed medical conditions through exposure to contaminants, damages serve to compensate for other losses. Examples include:
- Medical costs for treatment, including surgery, hospitalization, and cancer care;
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress; and,
- Other losses that impact personal relationships and quality of life.
An Oakland Toxic Torts Lawyer Can Explain Additional Points About the Laws
The Ohio train derailment investigation continues, and it may be some time before residents of the region develop medical conditions related to the exposure. If you would like to know more about toxic torts, please contact Venardi Zurada, LLP. We can schedule a no-cost case assessment at our offices in Oakland or Walnut Creek, CA.