Texas property owners have the legal right to compensation for contamination to their property.
Written by: Enjuris Editors
South Texas is an area absolutely teeming with natural resources, and this makes the area a prime place for large gas and oil companies to set up shop.
Although the jobs and economic benefits of these companies are obvious, a price is also paid. Gas and oil companies are often more than willing to cut corners and take shortcuts in order to increase their profits. When this happens, drilling sites aren’t cleaned up properly, waste is hastily disposed of, and private property can suffer for it.
Property contamination can not only ruin property value, but it can cause owners to experience health issues. Contaminated water, hazardous chemical vapors, or even contaminated soil can come from a negligent gas or oil plant.
If your land has been dangerously contaminated, you’re likely frustrated with those responsible, wondering how you should proceed, and concerned about the future state of your property and health.
Here are some answers to your questions to help you move toward compensation for your property contamination damages.
How property can become contaminated
There are more ways that your property can become contaminated than you may think. The following are some of the most common causes of property contamination in Texas:
Oil or chemical spills
Improperly disposing of chemicals or solid waste
Negligent drilling practices
Leaking pipes or storage tanks
Any of these situations could cause water, air, or soil pollution to contaminate your property and can cause health issues for you and your family and/or a loss in the quality of your land. If you suspect your property is contaminated, be sure to contact an expert to fully survey the damage.
Toxic tort covers a variety of case types including exposure to toxic chemicals at work, drugs with unintended side effects, or even consumer products that caused injuries due to their toxicity. Toxic tort lawsuit also covers property damage from environmental contamination.
Can I sue?
Knowing whether or not you can sue for property contamination is not necessarily cut and dry. Texas law states that, in order to file a toxic tort case, it must be proven that your property’s contamination stemmed directly from a source of pollution such as a gas, oil, or manufacturing company.
Additionally, if you yourself suffered injuries or disease from your property’s contamination, you must be able to show that your injuries were directly caused by the contamination of your property and not from a pre-existing condition. Proving these conditions will allow you to sue for compensation for your damages.
Enjuris Tip:Texas’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims is typically 2 years unless you are suing a government entity. In this case, the statute of limitations drops to 6 months. Keep this in mind when filing your claim.
What damages can I collect from suing?
If you can prove that your damages stemmed directly from your contaminated property, you can sue for compensation. You may receive several types of damages including:
Any medical treatment for injury or disease (current or future)
A decrease in your property’s value
The cost of cleaning up the property
In some cases, your compensation may extend beyond compensatory damages. You may also be eligible for punitive damages, although this is not common for property contamination cases. Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant and discourage them from committing similar negligent actions in the future.
Property contamination claims can provide compensation for medical bills, your property’s fallen value, and cleanup.
Who’s going to clean up my property?
Most of the time, contaminated property is cleaned up using a remediation plan.
All parties involved in the property contamination case will also be involved in the cleanup process as well as environmental experts and industry scientists. Before any cleanup can take place, however, it must be shown that the property is actually contaminated and to what degree. Fault in the contamination must also be established.
The overall goal of a remediation plan is to return your property back to its original state before the contamination (as close as is possible) and actively prevent any further contamination or negligent action from taking place.
How does an attorney fit into this situation?
Hiring an attorney can help your property contamination case considerably. There is contamination and fault to prove, after all, and complications can arise quickly.
Enjuris Tip: Personal injury lawyers do more for your case than you may think. Here are some tips for finding a great personal injury lawyer in Texas.
Your legal representation will prove this fault and also work to make sure that those responsible will provide the funds to pay for the extensive research and surveying that can come with a property contamination remediation plan. In addition, your attorney will fight for your rights to compensation for the damages you’ve suffered because of the negligence of large oil or gas companies.
While you aren’t required to hire an attorney in Texas, if you do decide to move forward with one, make sure that he or she is familiar with the ins and outs of property contamination and toxic tort law and understands the complications that could arise.
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