How Can Environmental Damage Result in a Lawsuit?
December 8, 2022
Environmental regulations and laws are in place to protect the people, animals, and the planet. Environmental litigation is essential to hold people and organizations who pollute the environment accountable and also to dissuade others from contaminating water, air, and wildlife.
There are a few key laws that govern environmental policies in the United States:
- The Clean Air Act: The Clean Air Act empowers the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate air quality standards for air pollutants like lead, carbon dioxide, and ozone that are harmful to our health.
- The Clean Water Act: Among other regulations, the Clean Water Act (CWA) makes it unlawful to disperse a pollutant from a point source into large water sources without a permit.
- The Endangered Species Act: Passed in 1973, this law protects animals and the habitats they live in from becoming threatened or endangered.
- The Occupational Safety and Health Act: The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requires employers to provide a safe workplace for all employees and inform them of potential exposure to chemicals or toxins.
- The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act: This law, passed in 1980, regulates the management of emergency cleanup of accidents, spills, and hazardous waste sites.
What Is Toxic Exposure?
Environmental lawsuits often involve allegations of toxic exposure and harm. Exposure to toxic, harmful substances through inhalation or skin contact can be hazardous to human life and the soil, air, and water.
The most common types of toxic exposure include:
- Asbestos: Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral used in many building material and other products. If asbestos particles are inhaled or ingested, they can cause cancer and other health problems.
- Carbon monoxide: Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas made when fuel burns. CO fumes are toxic and breathing them in can be life-threatening. Unvented heaters are the most common source of CO poisoning.
- Lead: Lead is another substance that is naturally-occurring in the earth. Until the 1970s, lead was widely used in paints and is still permitted in small amounts today. Cumulative exposure to lead over time can lead to serious health problems, especially in young children.
- Oil: Oil is a mixture of various hazardous chemical compounds that cause cancer and other illnesses when inhaled; it can harm people and wildlife. Oil spills are devastating for the ecosystem. They pollute the water and release toxic fumes that permeate the air.
Who Can File an Environmental Lawsuit?
Anyone who experiences bodily harm due to environmental damage has a right to bring a civil environmental claim against the at-fault party. They can sue the entity for violating an environmental law and possibly recover damages for any losses incurred as a result of that violation.
What Is a Class Action Environmental Lawsuit?
A class action lawsuit is a claim brought by a group of people who are in the same situation. In the context of environmental law, for example, the residents of a subdivision might file a class action lawsuit against a developer who built their homes on toxic soil without remediating the site or disclosing the risk of toxic exposure.
Wilmington Environmental Lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. Represent Clients Facing Complex Environmental Law Matters
If you need help with an environmental lawsuit, one of our Wilmington environmental lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. can assist. Call us at 302-656-5445 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Wilmington and Millsboro, Delaware, we serve clients in Dover, New Castle County, and Sussex County.