You can file a personal injury claim for any injury that results from exposure to a substance or other hazard in your environment. For the purposes of civil law, your environment can include your person, your housing situation, your workplace, your property, or the larger, natural environment. In other words, the hazards that can result in personal injury can be found in a number of locations under this form of civil litigation.
The most common hazards that result in environmental damage personal injury claims include: toxic waste, water contamination, air pollution, toxic mold, lead paint and component parts, and unsafe medications. While these are the most common cases filed under environmental damage personal injury statutes, any exposure to a toxin in the environment can be the basis for civil litigation if you suffered ill effects from that exposure.
Proving Your Environmental Damage Personal Injury Claim
If you suffered injuries as a result of environmental damage, you can file a claim against the party responsible in order to recover compensation based on damages in your case. Damages can include medical and other expenses associated with treating your injuries and any other immediate or long term care you required, like if you needed assistance with performing everyday activities due to physical limitations resulting from your illness.
Damages can also include loss of income or reduced income that is caused by your inability to work during your illness or recovery period. There are additionally non-financial damages that can be assessed in a personal injury claim. These can include pain and suffering, loss of life enjoyment, and other harder to quantify concepts – that while they are more difficult to assess , are no less important to a victim’s quality of life after a personal injury.
In order to prove damages and recover monetary compensation for a personal injury claim, you must show four primary things:
- You suffered exposure to an environmental hazard,
- You were unaware or otherwise unable to avoid the exposure,
- You had no part in creating the environmental hazard or played no authoritative role in the environmental damage, and
- A third party was directly or indirectly responsible for your injury resulting from environmental damage.
In some cases, proving you were exposed to an environmental hazard is fairly simple, as is the case when you can show that your water well has been contaminated by run-off of toxic chemicals from a neighboring agricultural operation, for example. However, in most cases, proving exposure and the third party at fault for the exposure is much more challenging.
In cases where the fault for environmental damage has already been established, such as companies cited by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for environmental regulation violations, proving the existence of the hazard in your environment may be easy, but you must still show you suffered injury due to the presence of the hazard. This concept is known as “causation” and essentially means proving your injuries were the direct result of exposure to an environmental hazard. In other words, the third party responsible for environmental damage is liable for your injuries.
Your Environmental Damage Personal Injury Case
Joining a class action suit, if one exists, is one option in environmental damage litigation. The other option for recovering financial damages for your injuries is to file an individual personal injury case. If you file an individual claim, you will need an environmental damage personal injury attorney. He or she can help you collect documentation and other proof, including medical records, public health and safety reports, EPA documents, and other forms of substantiating details for arguing your case. Additionally, a personal injury lawyer can help you determine how far to proceed with your claim and whether it is in your best interest to take a monetary settlement for your injuries or take your case to trial.