Environmental Law: What Kinds of Claims Can Be Brought?

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Under state common law there are a number of claims that can be brought for environmental damage, harm or injury, and these come under a selection of distinct categories. The four categories under which a claim can be brought (in accordance with state common law) are outlined below, and include:

Nuisance
Trespass
Strict Liability
Negligence

Environmental Law: Claims Overview

Nuisance

This type of environmental damage or harm entails the interference with your quality of life and the enjoyment of your own property due to the actions of a third party. This could through means such as rubbish dumping, excessive noise nuisance, odour nuisance and other actions that can adversely affect the way that you use and enjoy your own property. The damages awarded in this type of lawsuit can include damages for loss of value of the property due to the nuisance, damages for personal injury or harm, and damages for loss of use and enjoyment of your property.

Trespass

This type of environmental damage or harm entails the invasion or contamination of your property by the third party. Whether the third party physically invades your property or takes action that could be construed as contamination and invasion (such as rubbish dumping on your property) this would all come under the umbrella of trespass law. Damages for trespass includes the recover of either the market value of the property or the clean up of the pollution. This can differ from state-to-state, and some states will award the cheaper of the two options whereas others will award clean up costs regardless.

Strict Liability

This type of environmental damage or harm entails the use of a hazardous substance by a third party, which has caused harm or damage to you or your property. Strict liability does not take in to consideration why the substance was used and does not take ignorance as an excuse. Whether or not the third party intended to cause damage to another’s property is irrelevant, and the third party will till be held accountable. Damages are usually calculated in accordance with the cost of retuning the property to its former state before the contaminant was released.

Negligence

This type of environmental damage or harm entails damage or injury to you or your property through contamination caused by the actions of a third party. Whether it was action or lack of action from the third party that caused your exposure, injury or damage, you can still bring a claim. However, this is if the third party used the contaminating substance in what is deemed an unreasonable manner. Damages can include compensation for clearing the contamination, damages, decreased property values and personal injury.

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