Chlorine is often placed into water supplies to cleanse and disinfect the supply from bacteria. While most individuals are unaffected by chlorine, there have been reported cases of illness and death related to chlorine. Some of the conditions are not from the chlorine itself but its interaction with biological debris from runoff.
Adverse Effects of Chlorine
Chlorine has been connected to dryness of the skin and asthma-like conditions. Even brief exposure to chlorinated water has brought on exercise-induced asthma. In certain studies, the chlorine level in the pool was unrelated to asthma, so you can be under-chlorinating your pool and still get the same health effects.
There have been other reported incidents of consuming chlorination by-products (CBP). The studies are still in the early stages, but high levels of CBP in city water have been correlated to more serious birthing problems for pregnant women.
What Is Toxic Exposure? What Are Toxic Torts?
A toxic substance is something that is considered to be harmful to the human body, particularly in specific quantities. As such, toxic exposure occurs when the human body comes into contact with a toxic substance.
There are many different types of toxic exposure, which can happen in many different environments.
Some examples of toxic exposure include, but may not be limited to:
- Exposure to chemicals in the workplace;
- Exposure to mold, especially dangerous types of black mold;
- Exposure to Asbestos;
- Exposure to lead paint;
- Exposure to toxic fumes from various activities such as welding;
- Dangerous chemicals in defective medications or drugs;
- Environmental contamination resulting from the release of certain gasses or toxins; and
- Soil or groundwater contamination results from the dumping of wastes and chemicals.
Personal injury law addresses situations in which another harms one party. Toxic torts refer to personal injury cases in which the plaintiff alleges harm because of exposure to some toxin or chemical. The factors necessary to prove in a toxic tort case are similar to those in a typical negligence case.
As such, for a chlorine negligence case, you will need to demonstrate:
- That the Defendant Owed You a Legal Duty: This is typically straightforward in toxic torts cases. An example of this would be how in cases that involve chlorine contamination, you can prove that a company had a duty to the residents of the locality to avoid manufacturing any chemicals which would contaminate the soil or groundwater;
- The Legal Duty was Breached: Duty is determined based on the reasonable person standard, which considers how a reasonable party would act in the same situation. To further the example of chlorine environmental contamination cases, you could prove that another company in a similar situation would have exercised more care to avoid dumping chlorine. Further, you could verify that another company would have complied more strictly with relevant environmental regulations;
- That the Breach of Duty Caused You Harm: The breach of a legal duty must have been the direct or proximate cause of the harm. Proving this can be difficult, especially if more than one party is potentially involved.
- That You Suffered a Particular Harm: This involves proving that you suffered particular harm because of the defendant’s actions. To establish this, you will need to use different types of evidence, such as medical bills or evidence of missed workdays.
What Is A Class Action Lawsuit?
A class action is a lawsuit that one or more people generally bring on behalf of a group of others who are in a similar situation. Everyone must share similar legal problems, and there must be enough people involved that it would not make sense to bring separate lawsuits.
Additionally, the court must certify the class to bring an action. The court will consider the following before certification:
- The plaintiffs must adequately represent the interests of the whole class;
- There must be no conflicts of interest between the plaintiffs;
- The plaintiffs must be competent;
- The claims of the representatives must be similar and represent the entire class; and
- The question of fact must come from one act or a pattern of conduct by the defendant.
A person or group will initially bring a putative class-action lawsuit against the defendant. The court will then decide whether to certify the lawsuit as a class action; when certified, the original group will represent the entire class action group, moving forward as a class-action lawsuit.
Should the court refuse to certify the class, they will generally give their reason why. This would most likely be because they do not think the class is complete, meaning that more potential plaintiffs could join the class to strengthen the case.
Any individual who may be affected by the class action lawsuit is allowed to receive notice of it being initiated. The notice must include a description of the claim and information that they can opt out of the class action if they wish to do so. If they do opt-out, they must be mindful that they will not be able to bring forth their claim in the future.
Because many class actions are considerably prominent, notices of class actions can be put in newspapers, TV commercials, or mailing lists. Depending on the circumstances, it is possible for a potential class member who did not join the class to bring forward their suit if they had no idea that there was a class action.
Are There Other Causes Of Action For Toxic Exposure?
Personal injury lawsuits are not the only way someone affected by toxic chlorine exposure can recover compensation. An example of this would be how work-related injuries are not addressed through a typical personal injury lawsuit, even if the employer was directly responsible for the exposure.
Instead, these injuries are addressed through the workers’ compensation system, which all fifty states have enacted. A workers’ compensation claim is generally the sole remedy for injuries on the job.
Nevertheless, suppose the employee was injured by chlorine, which a third party manufactured. In that case, they may be able to bring a claim against the manufacturer of the chlorine in a standard civil lawsuit. When a toxic substance affects many individuals, a plaintiff may not bring an individual claim but rather a class action lawsuit, as was previously discussed.
Statutes of limitations set the time limit in which a particular chlorine claim can be brought against a defendant. It is crucial to keep these statutes in mind, mainly because claims for damages must be brought within a set time. This time frame is generally two or three years after the incident happened for personal injury cases. Nevertheless, this can be longer or shorter in some states.
This can be incredibly complicated for toxic exposure cases because an injury from toxic exposure may not show up right away. The injury may show up several years later as a severe medical condition. Many states have enacted a “discovery rule” to address this issue. In states which have enacted a discovery rule, the statute of limitations does not begin until the injury is known or reasonably should have been known.
Current Status of Chlorine
Medical research is still underway to examine chlorine’s interaction with humans. Nevertheless, it should be noted that chlorinated water kills bacteria, and countless people have been saved from potentially hazardous bacteria. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently enacted a regulation to lower CBP in water supplies.
Should I Hire a Lawyer?
If you have been injured by chlorine by-products, contacting a class action attorney would help preserve your legal rights and ability to recover for your injuries. An attorney can represent you in court if you need to go to trial.