What Damages Can I Recover After Property Contamination?
The measurement of damages in a property contamination lawsuit will vary from case to case. It will depend on the types of claims alleged and the specific environmental damage that has occurred. For instance, the lawsuit may assert claims under state and federal laws that define the damages available, or it may seek relief through contract law, such as breach of contract, or through tort law, such as a claim of trespassing.
The factors involved in the determination of damage may include:
- The extent of air, water, and soil pollution caused by the oilfield or fracking operations.
- The historical use of the property.
- The loss in the property's fair market value.
- The reasonable cost of cleaning up the property and restoring its condition, if restoration is possible.
An investigation will take place in which it will be determined if land remediation is necessary. If an examination of the property takes place and it fails to meet the current property standards for that area, then a remediation agreement will be entered into in which the company is responsible for restoring the property to the way it was before their company commenced operations on it. After the cleanup, the land will most likely be maintained as well, to make sure the condition does not worsen after cleanup and that the situation does not happen again.
In the worst-case scenarios, property values can be lowered, the inhabitants of the property may become ill because of exposure to toxic chemicals left on (in which case they would need compensation for their medical treatment), and the land may become sterile due to chemicals and other drilling operations. The property owners may have made their living from their properties, so if the property damage is this severe, the property will have to be restored if possible and the inhabitants compensated for the wages they lost as a result of contaminated land.