There are three general areas of liability that stem from environmental contamination:
- Removal costs
- Punitive damages
Any of these liabilities may be imposed on the business or entity that causes the environmental contamination.
What Are Removal Costs?
Removal costs are the cost incurred by federal, state, and tribal governments, as well as businesses or individuals, in removing the environmental contaminants. These costs vary significantly depending on the extent of damage, the type of contamination, and the severity of the damage. For example, a shipwreck resulting in a crude oil spill will likely be incredibly costly, whereas something like a truck transporting gasoline will be significantly easier to clean up, and therefore cost less to remove.
What Are Damages?
Damages in environmental contamination cases refer to the effect the contamination had on the land value. These can include:
- Cost of response teams
- Destruction of natural resources
- Economic losses to landowners
- Loss of use of natural resources
- Net loss of taxes on land
- Lost profits
- Increased cost of public services
- Costs of effects on health and associated studies
What Are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are added costs that a court or jury imposes to punish a business or individual for causing environmental contamination. They can be significantly higher than the initial damages award.
Do I Need an Attorney?
Liability for environmental contamination can be extremely severe and could bankrupt even a large corporation. This makes staking a claim against a corporation that has wronged your property vital. Consulting with a local property attorney would be a good first step to ensuring you are compensated for your harm. All the same, if you belong to a company and may have been responsible for environmental damages, you should consider speaking with a lawyer immediately.