Forensic, General & Medical
Expert Witnesses

Exposure Pathways - Standards for Expert Witness Opinions

     By HG.org

Expert witness opinions about various subjects are important to understand and proceed with knowledge and caution about dangers, complications and problems that may occur currently or in the future. With exposure pathways, it is essential to understand the standards that experts explain through opinions based on fact and the situation.

What Is an Exposure Pathway?

A hazardous substance that comes into contact with a person either through work or with personal injury due to the actual pathway he or she suffers exposure to may lead to a legal claim against a company, the state or a manufacturer. The basic pathways the person may suffer harm include inhalation of substances, ingestion through consumption or by direct contact with the skin. The more exposure to the toxic matter, the more harm the person may suffer. This may also depend on the degree of toxicity of the material. An expert witness may need to test the evidence to determine how much the person will suffer from the exposure pathway.

Standards with Exposure

The usual exposure to toxic materials is lower in frequency when standards are put in place by the state or federal government. However, there are many locations to include an older home that an individual may suffer injury through hazards that may include lead, asbestos and hazardous waste from manufacturing plants. If there are no standards in place, this could lead to a personal injury claim against a company. The expert witness may need to explain the standards, how a company or manufacturer violated these or give an opinion about the facts of the material and the injuries sustained.

Damage to the Pathways

Inhalation usually occurs through gasses or invisible toxins in the air. The person that suffers injury in this manner may not discover any symptoms for several days or weeks. However, over time, the inhalation may damage the lungs and lead to severe internal damage. Other inhalation problems happen through fibers or dust particles that embed in the lungs and either injure the organs through time or when the person breathes. The matter or particle is generally breathed in when the person works where the material is or when his or her mouth or nose expose an opening.

Consumption of a toxic substance is possible through swallowing water or a solid object. This may happen through paint, lead-based material, asbestos fibers in the lining within walls and if the person falls into the hazardous material. The ingestion of the toxic matter could cause the injury, or the victim may suffer when the solid or liquid passes through the mouth and into the throat. At any point, contact with the skin is possible and may damage the entire body or only the exposed areas. Many of these toxic materials could cause cancer, physical injuries and the need for years of treatment and therapy for the body.

The Expert Witness and the Exposure Pathways

The professional hired for cases involving the exposure pathways is held to certain standards for explaining the matter and supplying the courtroom with his or her opinion about the subject material. He or she must remain unbiased, give details without taking any side and use the data to inform the judge or jury panel about the complications with inhalation, ingestion or skin contact. The professional may also need to explain the different injuries based on the specific hazard attached to the situation. If the victim suffered due to inhaling a chemical odor, this could damage the nose, lungs and throat. While direct skin contact could cause burns, lacerations and mutated growths.

Expert witnesses often test evidence to gain insight and help the court understand the toxic material better. In exposure pathway cases, this may involve testing the hazard on various other materials to better understand how it affected the victim specifically. The expert will need to uphold confidentiality standards and work to explain how the defendant is responsible for the damage based on the manufacture or use of the product.

Expert Testimony and Opinion

While working with standards to hold the integrity of the courtroom, keep the injury or disease confidential and work to explain the matter to the courtroom, the expert’s testimony revolves around opinions based on facts from the evidence and how the toxic material affected the plaintiff. The expert’s testimony may supply the judge or jury with the necessary information to deliberate with all the needed details about the case so a determination will hold the correct person or company responsible for the matter.

Copyright HG.org


While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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