Exposure to environmental hazards can have devastating implications and cause massive damage. Environmental toxic tort claims may arise out of exposure to toxic substances, toxic mold, fumes, and materials in the home or workplace. Whether it involves contaminated water, soil, or air, or coming in contact with lead paint, pesticides, silica dust or asbestos, short- or long-term exposure to toxins can lead to dangerous health effects and consequences.
Liability for Environmental Injury Claims
A “tort” is the legal term for wrongdoing that causes someone injury. When a company, individual or entity commits an environmental tort, the victim can file a claim to recover damages. Determining and proving liability for these types of cases can be challenging, though. Depending on the circumstances, the case might fall under workers’ compensation, third-party liability claims, product liability claims and premises liability claims.
For example, if exposure to the environmental 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. Additionally, third-party liability – such as exposure to conditions created by a contractor – may allow victims to pursue a lawsuit against the negligent third-party.
Product liability claims may apply in certain cases. This may be the case if a product containing 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. Breach of implied warranty – meaning it is reasonable to expect a product to be safe for intended use – may apply, too.
Premises liability-based environmental toxic tort claims are common, as well. Negligence, the basis for such a claim, 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.
You will want to speak to a personal injury attorney to determine against which party you can file your claim.
Steps for Filing an Environmental Toxic Tort Claim
If you’ve been injured because of exposure to toxic substances at your home, work or in public, follow these six steps for filing an environmental hazard injury claim.
- Get a medical evaluation. First and foremost, you need to seek the opinion of a medical professional. If you believe you have been exposed to dangerous chemicals or substances, always get a full physical evaluation from a doctor. A physician will be able to determine if you’ve been affected by the exposure, provide you with a prognosis and explain treatment options. Be sure to keep all receipts and bills to share with your attorney.
- Consult an attorney. Environmental claims can be highly complicated. You will not want to handle this type of case by yourself. Specifically, enlist the help of a lawyer who is familiar with cases involving environmental health. Your lawyer should be familiar with local and national environmental tort laws and have the means to accommodate you through the entire claims process.
- Report the hazard. Living near a potential hazard or working with environmental health hazards affecting human health does not mean you are without rights. There are laws and regulations that companies must follow. If they fail to abide by the laws, they can and should be held accountable for their actions. If you know the source of the hazard, file a report with the appropriate authorities. If you develop an injury due to exposure at work, inform your employer. If the hazard isn’t job-related, you have several options. You can contact the local health agency, fire department, Department of Energy Conservation or the Division of Environmental Remediation. You may even choose to contact the Environmental Protection Agency. If you are not sure where to report the hazard, your lawyer can assist.
- Estimate your damages. When filing environmental claims, you could be due a wide range of damages. From your medical bills, treatment costs and lost income to pain, suffering and mental anguish, there are numerous losses for which you could be compensated. You could even be due punitive damages for your injuries if gross negligence or intentional harm is involved. Your lawyer will use evidence from your case to estimate the value of your claim. An attorney can help accurately estimate the value of your claim based on the costs you have incurred, the costs you expect to incur, your degree of pain and suffering, and what other similar cases have garnered in the past.
- Seek expert testimonies. The majority of environmental toxic tort claims require testimonies from field experts to prove negligence. You and your attorney may need to seek the opinion of an environmental expert or scientist to prove that the environmental substances to which you were exposed were indeed harmful, and your injuries and damages were likely caused by exposure to those substances. You also probably will need testimony from a medical physician stating the same. When you work with our firm, we will help you line up the appropriate expert witnesses.
- Proceed with your claim. After you have addressed your medical needs and partnered with an attorney, your lawyer then will walk you through the claims process. This involves filing paperwork, collecting documentation and evidence, negotiating with insurers, meeting deadlines, and addressing any defenses to your environmental claim. If need be, your lawyer can ready your case for litigation and represent you in court.
Consulting an Environmental Claims Lawyer in New York
For help filing an environmental toxic tort claim, contact Gacovino Lake & Associates in New York. Filing a claim not only will enable you to seek compensation from liable parties, but it also could help prevent others from being harmed by the hazard. Let us review your case and help you seek the recovery you deserve. Contact us today at 800-550-0000 or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation.