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Introduction to Environmental Law

The basis for any environmental lawsuit is exposure to environmental hazards. A hazard can be defined as a toxin present in the environment that has a detrimental effect on human health, when the body is exposed to such hazard.

Kinds of Environmental Hazards

Hazards present in the environment can take multiple shapes and forms. For instance, toxic waste, comprising of medical, nuclear, chemical or mineral waste, if present in large quantities at a particular area could pose serious health hazard for humans and other life forms. Similarly, polluted and contaminated water can wreck havoc on human population. Air pollution is another major health irritant, especially the persons with asthma or other breathing problems.

There may be any kind of environmental hazards you are exposed to and sometimes, it becomes extremely difficult to identify the hazard that is afflicting your health. For instance, residents of Niagara Falls in Love Canal were at a loss when they discovered that they are living on a toxic waste dump that had remained hidden from their sight.

The important thing is to identify the hazard and the person or entity responsible for such hazard because the polluter has to pay heavy damages for exposing humans to greater health risk.

Environmental Lawsuit – Basics

Before approaching the courts with an environmental lawsuit, you may just want the polluter to correct the wrong. This can be achieved by approaching the appropriate Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) along with the details of pollution. The EPA is duty bound to investigate such cases and take appropriate administrative action against the polluter.

Another option is to file a “citizen suit” in the court of law with a plea that polluter cleans up the contamination. If EPA has found contamination, you can file such suit on behalf of the government. However, if EPA hasn’t found any contamination, you will have to file the suit on your own along with the responsibility to investigate and prove that contamination exists.

You can also file a standard civil suit in case you want to recover damages for the harm caused to your person or property due to exposure to an environmental hazard.

You can further join a class action suit if you were exposed to contamination. In such cases, burden of proving harm is considerably lessened as the class has already dealt with the issue.

In all other lawsuits, burden to prove harm is an onerous one. You will require a knowledgeable and expert environmental attorney to represent your case and prove that harm did visit you or your property as a result of exposure to pollution or contamination. Hiring a reliable environmental attorney is also necessitated by the fact that most of the times, the polluter is either a big corporation or someone with great social standing; and obviously, their case will be represented by a battery of lawyers scratching every page of the rule book to defend their client. Your environmental attorney will ensure that your interests are not compromised in the court by the presence of so many legal experts.

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