Scientific Evidence and Causation of Toxicity

TASA ID: 1111

Establishing causation is a critical - if not the most important - task when allegations of harm are made.  This is particularly true for adverse consequence arising from illicit drugs, pharmaceuticals, dietary supplements, and other chemicals.  Causation of adverse health effects and even wrongful death requires more than demonstrating an association or connection.  Knowing whether or not there is a causal link between a toxicant and a claimed adverse health effect is important for both plaintiffs and defendants.

 For plaintiffs, it is important to know if there is a causal link between an alleged toxicant like a drug from a prescription error that caused a wrongful death or an illicit drug that resulted in an automobile accident caused by an impaired driver driving under the influence of a drug, illicit or a legal prescription (DUI).  Knowing if there is a causal link early in the consideration of litigation allows plaintiff attorneys to manage resources and decisions about proceeding with their client’s case.

For defendants, knowing that there is a causal link between illicit drugs, pharmaceuticals, dietary supplements, or other chemicals, avoids protracted litigation with a low probability of a successful outcome.  On the other hand, knowing that there is an absence of a causal link supports pleadings for a dismissal with a successful outcome for the defense.

The process of determining whether or not a causal link exists between a toxicant and an adverse event such as medical malpractice, DUI, wrongful death, etc. requires three distinct, but connected steps.  Initially, there is a requirement for a forensic investigation of the facts of the case through examinations of medical records in the context of a time-line.  Once the alleged adverse effects are determined to be real and reasonable within the context of a time-line, the allegations are examined and compared to the published medical and scientific literature to ascertain plausibility of the claims.  The third and final step in process for establishing causation is the formulation of one or more opinions regarding the case.

This article discusses issues of general interest and does not give any specific legal or business advice pertaining to any specific circumstances.  Before acting upon any of its information, you should obtain appropriate advice from a lawyer or other qualified professional.

This article may not be duplicated, altered, distributed, saved, incorporated into another document or website, or otherwise modified without the permission of TASA.
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