Environmental health issues are an unfortunate reality. Some environmental hazards affecting human health exist inside houses, schools or around construction sites. If the hazard causes injury, those affected may pursue compensation for damages through an environmental claim, with which a personal injury lawyer on Long Island may assist.
Examples of Environmental Hazards that May Affect Human Health
There are many different types of environmental health issues and hazards that can exist in the environment. One is toxic mold, which can be found inside homes, schools and other buildings.
Research hasn’t pinpointed a link between mold and health issues, but most agree that certain groups may be at greater risk of health problems stemming from mold exposure. These include children, the elderly, and any individuals with respiratory problems or compromised immune systems.
Another example of an environmental hazard is silica dust. This substance can be found in areas where construction has taken place. Sandblasting is a potential culprit of exposure.
The risk with silica dust is that it may create lung and respiratory problems when inhaled over long periods. Common ailments associated with silica dust are difficulty breathing and lung inflammation.
Asbestos is another example of an environmental health issue. It has been used in a variety of products as a fire retardant. When disturbed, such as through construction or renovation projects, those exposed to it may inhale it.
It has been known to cause irritation to the lungs, and in serious cases, may cause a cancer called mesothelioma. Unfortunately, it can take years (even decades) before asbestos-related diseases are detected.
Reporting Environmental Hazards
Living near a potential hazard or working with environmental health hazards affecting human health doesn’t mean you are without rights. There are laws and regulations that must be followed, which could result in filing a complaint. If you know the source of the hazard, file a report. If you develop an injury due to exposure at work, inform you employer; this is a necessary step in the Workers’ Compensation process.
In New York, you have some options. You could contact a local health agency, fire department, Department of Energy Conservation or Division of Environmental Remediation. You may even choose to contact the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Of course, there is also the possibility of pursuing legal action.
Liability for Environmental Hazards
Responsibility for hazards such as these will depend on the circumstances of the individual’s exposure to the hazard.
For example, if exposure to a hazard occurred at work, such as exposure to silica dust in the construction industry, a Workers’ Compensation claim may be the primary legal recourse to collect compensation for medical bills and lost wages due to missing work. But third-party liability – such as exposure conditions created by a contractor – may allow injured parties to pursue a lawsuit against the negligent third-party.
Product liability claims may apply in some cases, too. This may be the case if a product containing a dangerous material such as asbestos is found to be the cause of symptoms or illness. Strict liability may apply in some cases, which requires proving that a product was dangerous when it left the manufacturer and that it caused illness or injury to an individual using it in the correct manner and who could not have reasonably avoided injury. Breach of implied warranty – meaning it is reasonable to expect a product to be safe for intended use – may apply, too.
Negligence also could be a factor if a property owner knew of or should have known of the potential for an environmental health issue due to a hazard existing on the property but failed to remedy it.
Filing a Claim with a Personal Injury Lawyer in Long Island
Some environmental health issues or conditions may take years to manifest. Generally, product liability claims must be filed within three years of the cause of action. The three-year period begins when the injury is discovered or reasonably should have been discovered. The statute of limitations is three years for cases involving personal injury due to negligence.
A personal injury lawyer in Long Island at Gacovino, Lake & Associates can answer questions about your legal rights if an environmental hazard has affected your health and can help you file a claim stemming from a hazard causing environmental health issues. Contact our office at (800) 246-4878.