Jul 31, 2019 by Foresight

How can a Toxicologist Expert Witness Aid a Case?

Toxicology is the study of the effect that chemicals, toxins and substances have on our bodies. This study draws from a wide range of disciplines such as chemistry, biology, pharmacology and medicine. When toxicology practitioners are instructed as expert witnesses, they use their vast knowledge of the adverse effect that toxins and chemicals have on our bodies to determine the effect of drugs, alcohol or even poisonous substances on an individual.

The Work of a Toxicologist

A great deal of toxicologists work in the industrial field; in circumstances where employees come into contact with harmful and hazardous substances, they may be consulted on how to safeguard the wellbeing of the employees in question. Their work therefore revolves around studying chemicals and toxins which have a dangerous effect on the human body. Due to their expertise on the matter, they will then be able to recommend preventative measures to protect individuals in potentially dangerous situations.

A toxicologist may also work in the public sector, where they will aid the police in investigations regarding drug and alcohol levels in an individual, as well as in cases of poisoning. They will assess crime-scene evidence such as powders, pill bottles and all other manner of evidence bases. Their aim when working in criminal cases is to gain an understanding of the substances which has an effect on the individual. This may determine the cause of death, level on alcohol or drug influence an individual was under or whether certain medication or toxin caused an individual to become unwell.

Why Might a Solicitor Instruct a Toxicologist Expert Witness?

Due to their vast knowledge of how substances and toxins affect our bodies, a toxicologist expert witness would be instructed in a case which involves alcohol, drugs or medication. If the aforementioned were believed to have had an adverse effect on the individual in question, a toxicologist expert witness may be instructed to add clarity to situation. Here are a few circumstances in which a toxicologist may be useful:

  • Medication Complications: In a case where an individual has become unwell, or more unwell, due to being prescribed the wrong medication or medication which isn’t suitable, then a toxicologist could review whether the medication was prescribed negligently or irresponsibly.
  • Alcohol and Drugs Abuse or Overdose: In an instance where it appears that an individual may have overdosed or exceeded their limits, a toxicologist will be able to assess the extent to which the alcohol or drug affected their bodies. They will also be able to bring to light any third party illness or substance which may have caused damage to the individual’s body and whether an overdose was fatal. This information will be written up into a pathology report.
  • Alcohol or Drug Fuelled Behaviour: If an individual has committed a crime under the influence of a drug or alcohol, then clarification may be needed as to the extent to which their actions were fuelled by the substance in question. A toxicologist expert witness will be able to understand the extent to which the individual was mentally impaired by the substance they had been using. This can make the mens rea of the crime committed far more transparent.
  • Driving Under the Influence: A toxicology expert witness may be instructed to review the evidence in a case where an individual is believed to have been driving under the influence. They will review the evidence and potentially conduct their own tests in order to ascertain the level of intoxication the individual was under.

Finding the Right Toxicology Expert Witness

Toxicology expert witnesses can provide clarity in a wide-ranging array of cases, from prescription complications to poisonings. Each toxicologist will have more or less experience within certain subcategories of toxicology. Therefore, it is greatly beneficial to your case to instruct a toxicologist expert witness with relevant experience to your case. By finding your toxicologist expert witness through Foresight, you can be assured that they are court-ready and available when you need them. Get in touch to find out more.


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