Toxic chemical exposure cases known as toxic torts can revolve around situations that lead to not just injuries to people, but also environmental contamination and property damage. Civil law provides the opportunity for property owners to receive compensation for environmental contamination from those whose negligence has caused the contamination and property damage. It is important to note that restitution is for the purpose of returning the property owner to the same financial state he or she was in before the toxic tort that caused the damage.
Compensation for Environmental Contamination
Federal law allows claims for restitution related to:
- The diminishment of the land’s value or “reasonable” restoration costs
- Loss of land use
- Annoyance and discomfort
A property owner must demonstrate that:
- The defendant has caused physical damage of some kind to the plaintiff’s property
- Repairing that damage will not automatically restore the property’s value to its former amount
- There is a continuing risk of some kind to the land in question
The United States government and the plaintiff have the right to seek payment for current and future clean-up costs as a result of contamination to land due to hazardous substance release, not including petroleum. Many states may also have statutes allowing plaintiffs to seek similar damages; however, property owners may not obtain double recovery related to restoration and clean-up costs.
One other cause of action in toxic tort property damage cases relates to a theory called stigma. Stigma damages revolve around the fact that toxic tort leads to a loss of reputation to a property that makes it much more difficult or even impossible to sell. Some plaintiffs attempt to recover stigma damages for properties that have not been actually damaged themselves but are in close proximity to land that has been directly contaminated. These types of cases are much more challenging to succeed at than the other type of stigma cases. Courts tend to look much more favorably towards compensation for environmental contamination and property damage cases seeking stigma damages when actual physical harm has been done to the piece of land in question.
Experienced Environmental Contamination Attorney
Navigating compensation for environmental contamination and property damage cases can be challenging, but an experienced attorney used to practicing this type of law can be critical for a case’s success. Our firm has the knowledge and experience required to succeed at these types of property damage claims. No innocent property owner should have to pay the price for another person’s negligence, and civil laws exist to provide these property owners the rightful compensation to which they are entitled.
[Source: Environmental Contamination pages from “Theories of Liability and Damages in Toxic Tort Cases” provided by The Dysart Law Firm, p.c.