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Toxicology Expert Witnesses

The insights attorneys need on poisons and overdoses

Toxicology is a branch of biology, chemistry, and medicine concerned with the study of the adverse effects of chemicals on living organisms. The field of toxicology includes the identification, characterization, and evaluation of toxic substances, as well as the understanding of their mechanisms of action, dose-response relationships, and risk assessment.

Medical toxicologists specialize in diagnosing, treating, and preventing poisoning and other adverse health effects caused by exposure to toxic substances. Toxicologists can come from various medical specialties, including internal medicine, emergency medicine, pediatrics, and preventive medicine. Board Certification in medical toxicology is jointly administered by the American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM), the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP), and the American Board of Preventive Medicine (ABPM).

Subdisciplines of toxicology include:

  • Occupational toxicology: focuses on the health effects of exposure to toxic substances in the workplace.
  • Pediatric toxicology: focuses on the unique toxicological considerations in children, including developmental differences, accidental poisoning, and intentional ingestion.
  • Environmental toxicology: focuses on the effects of toxic substances on the environment and the potential impact on human health.
  • Clinical toxicology: focuses on the diagnosis, management, and prevention of acute and chronic poisonings in patients.
  • Analytical toxicology: develops and validates laboratory methods for detecting and measuring toxic substances in biological and environmental samples.
  • Forensic toxicology: the use of toxicology in legal and criminal investigations, including determining the cause of death and detecting drugs and other substances in postmortem samples.

The role of a toxicologist as an expert witness

Many types of personal injury, work injury, and medical malpractice matters involve some form of poisoning. A toxicologist can provide expert testimony on the toxic properties of the substance, the dose-response relationship, and the route of exposure, and develop a causation analysis that considers the plaintiff's exposure to the toxic substance and the medical evidence of the plaintiff's injuries or illnesses. Toxicologists can also analyze the potential health effects of a toxic substance and the long-term prognosis for the patient.

In cases where poisoning was a cause of an accident rather than the mechanism of the injury itself, such as driving under the influence, a toxicologist can likewise analyze laboratory results, describe the symptoms of intoxication, and explain the role of intoxication in causing the injury.

In wrongful death matters involving death by poisoning, an experienced medical toxicologist can analyze autopsy reports and other records to help establish the cause of death.

Get the toxicology expertise you need

Legal matters involving toxic substances can be exceptionally complex, and the right expert witness can make a significant difference. Rieback Medical-Legal Consultants has been working with America’s leading attorneys on toxic exposure and related matters since 1986. Our network includes Board-Certified toxicologists who are prepared for deposition and trial testimony. Contact us today for a free case summary review.

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