Friday, September 27, 2013

Toxic Tort Cases: Importance of Toxicology Experts

Toxicology expert witnesses are board-certified professionals who are called to testify in court for a wide range of cases involving medical toxicology, environmental toxicology, poisoning, substance abuse, and nutritional diseases to name a few. They are knowledgeable in many disciplines and have a proven track record in dealing with the aforementioned cases.

One of the most common cases handled by these experts is toxic tort, which is an illness or an injury that occurs when an individual comes in contact with a toxic substance such as asbestos, toxic mold, solvents, pesticides, and even pharmaceutical drugs. A lawyer specializing in toxic court cases conducts research and gathers the necessary data to present in court, and will most likely seek and consult a toxicology expert witness whose knowledge would enable him to provide a clear and reliable testimony.

A reliable toxicology expert witness should practice environmental, occupational, forensic, or medical toxicology. He or she should be able to evaluate and testify for cases that involve carbon monoxide poisoning, adverse drug reactions, substance abuse, and outbreaks. Knowledge in fields such as public health, emergency medicine, industrial hygiene, and health sciences is also necessary. Apart from gaining experience after handling several toxicology cases, a toxicology expert witness should also be able to testify and give his expert opinion without bias.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Roles a Good Medical Expert Witness Plays in Criminal Jurisprudence

The outcome of criminal cases should always be decided on evidence beyond reasonable doubt; realistically speaking, the road to that decision is naturally paved with innumerable hurdles which the prosecution has to surmount should it hope to win. To advance this goal, courts often rely on evidence gathered by the investigation or assessment of professionals called expert witnesses. Some of these witnesses include weapons and ballistics experts, criminal psychologists, and forensic medicine specialists. The trusted medical expert witness can either be specializing in pathology, psychology, dental analysis, toxicology, or many other fields of study that can help the case by providing a detailed profile of the crime, which will be admissible as court evidence. Moreover, expert witnesses also have varying roles to play in the court proceedings, as stated in an article by

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Medical Expert Witness: An Asset in the Court Room

"Tragedy struck on April 13, 2013 when Jabari S. Kemp ran a red light, resulting in a collision with another vehicle carrying 5 people. Due to the impact, both cars crossed the median divider causing the other car to roll and eject 4 people out of the vehicle. ER doctor Johnathan Greenfield, who treated the victims of the crash, found extremely high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical found in marijuana, in Kemp's system. In a case such as this, a doctor may be called in as a medical expert witness to provide evidence and an objective opinion regarding the medical aspects of the issue to make a strong case. Cases such as Kemp's require testimonies that may be too complex for non-doctors to understand. But with the help of medical evidence and thorough reports from experts, justice can be served for those who commit negligent and criminal acts."

Friday, September 20, 2013

Forensic Toxicology: The Fight Against Substance Abuse and Malicious Criminals

"Forensic toxicology helps lawmakers serve justice in a number of ways. From detecting illegal substances in the body to uncovering trace poisons during autopsy, forensic methods can be used to establish facts and gather evidence that can make or break a case. This past June, an operator of an excavator was proven to be high on marijuana and on prescription narcotics when part of the building he was working on collapsed onto a nearby store. The discovery allowed for proper execution of the law, taking one more potential danger off the streets. Apart from using scientific methodologies to make similar discoveries of substance abuse, forensic toxicologists also serve as expert witnesses in court. Putting their education and comprehensive training to use, experts help make a strong against criminals who use narcotics or poisons with the evidence they gather."

Thursday, September 19, 2013

How to Poison-Proof Your House

Poison control centers are frequently flooded with calls from victims who accidentally ingest poisonous substances. The sad part is that most of the time, the calls come from people who take common household items without knowing that they are dangerous. Many toxicology experts note that many of the household chemicals you take daily can have adverse and possibly lethal effects when misused.

If you have children, poison-proof your entire house by installing safety or childproof locks on your cabinets to keep them from being accessed unwittingly. Store all your cleaning chemicals, medicine, and pesticides well away from their reach, but you might still need to lock them up to ensure that nothing goes wrong.

Keep all food items and potential poisons far away from each other. You could be distracted one time and pour something dangerous into the soup you're cooking. Store them in different cabinets too, especially those with similar looking containers, and don't be lazy to put them back where you got them.

The bottles of chemicals and medicine you have are usually very colorful and may very likely entice a child to play with them, so make sure that they are stored in child-resistant containers or under lock and key in your bathroom's first-aid kit.

Friday, September 13, 2013

What a Toxicology Expert Witness Can Do

In William Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, a character declares, “If you poison us, do we not die?” That line still rings true today, as more and more incidents are reported where poison caused the death or serious injury of a person. The 2012 data gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that a total of 17,622 children under six years were reportedly exposed to harmful ingredients in a wide range of products, such as cosmetics, pain medications, cleaners, and pesticides.

Tracing the source of these incidents is necessary so the public can be advised to avoid said sources accordingly. Tracing the toxicity source, however, is a job that a layperson won't be able to do on his own. This is a job that only a toxicology expert can accomplish. Toxicology experts combine their knowledge on three branches to determine the cause of poison exposure: medicine, chemistry, and biology.

These experts conduct several tests to arrive at the most accurate result. Unlike in crime shows where toxicology experts seem to come up with results in an instant (almost as if they used magic) in real life, the process is much longer. If a person is exposed to a toxic substance, the toxicology experts will have to get a tissue sample, urine sample, and blood sample, and getting all these examined takes time to determine the exact cause.

Friday, September 6, 2013

A Quick Guide to Proving Death By Poison

Death by poisoning can be the result of a crime, whether the poisoning was done intentionally or accidentally. In intentional cases, investigators must prove that another person or entity deliberately caused the administration of poison to the victim's body. If the poisoning was accidental, the person or entity behind the victim's unintended exposure to the poison will need to account for their negligence.

Those prosecuting a death by poisoning case need to establish, beyond reasonable doubt, that the death was caused by a poison. Investigators then need to collect evidence to show that another party was responsible for the poisoning. From the evidence they gather, the investigators then need to determine whether the poisoning was done intentionally or accidentally; and in the case of the latter, they have to further evaluate if negligence was involved.

In establishing that the cause of the death was poison, the expertise of forensic toxicologists is often required. They examine the victim's body to find traces of the poison, identify the kind of poison involved, and determine that the amount of poison ingested by the victim was sufficient to cause death. The poison has to be present in the victim's circulation system and/or body organs. Its presence in the victim's gastrointestinal tract alone does not prove that the death was caused by the poison. It has to be shown that the poisonous element has penetrated through the person's intestinal walls and into the circulation system, which carried the poison to other parts of the body.