Environmental Injury Lawyer
Our Houston Environmental Poisoning Lawyer Can Help Win Compensation for Environmental Injuries
An environmental injury involves any harm someone suffers through exposure to toxic substances or pollution. These injuries often develop slowly over time, such as through daily exposure to lead paint or asbestos in a home or office. But industrial accidents or spills of dangerous materials can also lead to sudden toxic poisonings after, for example, a plant explosion or derailment of a train carrying petrochemicals or other carcinogenic substances.
Many pollutants can contaminate the water, air, or soil and seriously compromise a person’s health. Some environmental accident injuries lead to wrongful death. Often such toxic poisonings are the result of some person or company’s negligence. Large companies can dump toxic chemicals into a local water supply. Others violate environmental laws and injure people as a result of an accidental explosion or purposely dump dangerous chemicals quietly because they don’t want to pay the money to dispose of them in an environmentally safe manner. Apartment complexes sometimes ignore dangerous toxic mold; landscaping companies may ignore warnings about the safe disposition of weed killers or substances that kill dangerous pests and insects. The number of ways in which environmental injuries occur makes a long list.
If you or a loved one was injured or someone has died from environmental injuries, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses through an individual or class-action lawsuit. However, environmental laws are complicated, and large companies and their insurers have a team of high-powered lawyers on their side working to fight your case, so this is not something you should attempt to fight on your own.
By retaining a seasoned Houston environmental injury attorney from Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law who is familiar with these types of cases, you as a victim are taking the first step in receiving the necessary financial help you need to recover from the harm you suffered. Getting proper representation can make certain that those who are at fault are held accountable. Protect yourself by contacting us immediately to arrange a free evaluation of your case and determine the best way to move forward. Call us today at (713) 973-8888 or toll-free 1 (800) 444-5000 to get started, and let us handle the legal details while you concentrate on your recovery.
How an Environmental Poisoning Lawyer Can Help You
Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law in Houston has been an advocate for Texas residents for more than 35 years, achieving compensation and justice for their rightful legal claims. Our attorneys can help you hold companies accountable for their gross negligence and fight for maximum financial compensation.
When you have us on your side, we will:
- Meet with you to discuss your injuries, how they happened, and who might have been responsible, and to evaluate whether you have a valid case and what it may be worth
- Answer your questions, explain your legal options, and help you determine the best course of action to take to hold the negligent parties legally responsible for your damages
- Conduct investigations, gathering evidence and interviewing witness and other individuals who may have been harmed and researching past records of similar corporate wrongdoings
- Hire experts in the field to testify as to the source and extent of your damages and how they negatively impact your life and the type and costs of treatment you will need into the future.
- Negotiate with insurance companies and opposition lawyers for a fair settlement
- Build your case and take it to court if necessary to aggressively fight for the compensation you are entitled to.
Call us today to get started while witnesses can be found and evidence is fresh.
Damages You May Recover in an Environmental Poisoning Lawsuit
Our Environmental Poisoning Lawyers Will Fight for Both Economic and Non-economic Damages
Texas has large industries such as oil and gas refining, which are sources of environmental pollution and poisoning. According to a new report by Environment Texas Research & Policy Center, companies spewed more than 170 million pounds of unauthorized toxic air pollutants during 2019. Our state has problems with oil spills and zones that are environmentally damaged as well, such as such as waste pits and creosote contamination zones. People who live and work around these zones and are poisoned by pollutants may develop cancer and other serious diseases; and they may have a case for a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. Often toxic environmental poisonings are the result of some person or company’s negligence, and negligent parties should be held accountable.
If you have been damaged by pollutants or live in an environmentally damaged zone, such as a waste pit or creosote contamination zone, and have developed cancer or any other disease, you may have a case for a personal injury lawyer or wrongful death lawsuit. In a successful lawsuit, our environmental injury attorneys can help recover compensation for both your economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are to reimburse you for monetary expenses, such as:
- Cost of medical, hospital, and nursing care resulting from injuries
- Loss of wages and earning capacity from being too sick to work
- Property damaged by environmental poisons.
Non-economic damages are compensation for the damages that do not have a set dollar value, but can have a significant negative impact on your life, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional distress caused by the injuries
- Loss of consortium and enjoyment of life.
Many Texas companies knowingly violate environmental laws and place the health of the environment and people at risk. In some cases, punitive damages, meant to punish and make an example of a defendant due to especially reckless or egregious actions, may be awarded as well.
Environmental Injury Attorneys Determine Who is Liable for Environmental Poisoning
To win your case, our environmental poisoning attorneys would look to find the responsible parties (the defendants in the case) and prove that they were negligent and at fault for creating the environmental damage that led to your illness or injuries. This means legally showing the following:
- Duty – The defendant had a duty of care to act responsibly and not cause harm.
- Breach – The defendant breached this duty by actions or failure to act.
- Cause – This breach caused damage to the environment which resulted in your injuries.
- Damages – You suffered damages as a result.
Some injuries appear soon after exposure, but some may take years to manifest. Whatever the cause, our environmental poisoning lawyers are familiar with the types of diseases and harm caused by environmental pollution. We know how to trace your injuries to their source and find the responsible parties to hold liable.
What are Major Environmental Poisoning Problems in Texas?
There are a wide range of causes of environmental injuries. Some major problems we have seen in Texas include the following:
- Lead Poisoning – Lead exposure from industry occurs mostly in lead-related occupations with various sources like leaded gasoline, industrial processes such as smelting of lead and its combustion, pottery, boat building, lead-based painting, lead-containing pipes, battery recycling, grids, arms industry, pigments, and printing. Lead was once commonly used in home plumbing systems and many household products, including ceramic glazes and many paints, and can still be found in older structures. Exposure to levels of lead above the federally defined Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) has been proven to lower victims’ IQ and cause learning disabilities. When children are the victims, lead poisoning seriously hampers their physical and mental development, and children under age 12 are the most common victims of lead poisoning. The Environmental Public Health division of Harris County Public Health (HCPH) has committed to eliminating lead-based paint hazards in Harris County residences.
- Mesothelioma – Mesothelioma, specifically malignant mesothelioma, is a rare type of cancer caused by asbestos. Asbestos insulation can be found in older homes built before it was banned in the U.S. in the late 1970s. It is also found in many industrial products such as brake linings, cement, and gaskets, most of which are manufactured overseas. As little as three months of exposure to asbestos can increase a person’s risk of mesothelioma, but it can take decades for symptoms of mesothelioma to present themselves. The time from exposure to first symptoms of the disease is rarely less than 15 years and can be as long as 30 years. Those who work with asbestos without protection run the greatest risk of mesothelioma, but their loved ones are also at increased risk through their exposure to asbestos fibers carried home on the worker’s clothing or in their hair.
- Oil Spills – Over a thousand different hydrocarbons are found in crude oil, including the known carcinogens benzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. We who live near the Gulf Coast may risk environmental injury as a result of an oil spill. But cleanup workers run the greatest peril of long-term health effects. Oil-spill injuries can present as respiratory ailments, elevated blood pressure, and chemical burns from the substances that are used to clean up the spill.
- Toxic Mold and mildew – These are fungi that develop in damp places. Mold develops toxins and myotoxins and creates spores that are released into the air where they can be inhaled, causing lung inflammation or other health problems, including excessive allergies. Prolonged exposure to toxic mold can cause a variety of preventable illnesses and can be thwarted by residential or commercial property owners who undertake aggressive eradication measures. But these measures are costly, and not all landlords choose to address toxic mold before it causes many health problems for the buildings’ residents or occupants.
- Benzene – Benzene is a colorless gas with a slightly sweet odor. It is commonly used in many chemical solvents, detergents, and paints, among other products. Benzene is a flame retardant contained in cigarettes and many petroleum products. Benzene can be deadly to those exposed to it for long periods of time or in high levels. The EPA classifies Benzene as a Class A Carcinogen (the worst kind). Although this chemical occurs naturally in the environment, the major threat comes from chemically modified Benzene used in manmade products. Benzene is linked to various types of leukemia and other serious illnesses. In addition to respiratory problems, skin problems, and blood disorders, it is also linked to many cancers, including Hairy Cell Leukemia and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
- Beryllium – Beryllium is a rare metal which is mined and refined for industrial use. Often combined with metals like aluminum, cobalt, copper, iron, and nickel, it increases their hardness and resistance to corrosion. Beryllium is used in the manufacture of beryllium ceramics, beryllium copper alloy, and beryllium oxide powder. Exposure usually occurs when dust or fumes that contain the substance are naturally released during their manufacturing processes. Workers in the following industries may be unwittingly exposed to beryllium toxins:
- Aerospace Workers
- Dentistry and Dental Products
- Metal Work
- Mining and Refining
- Nuclear Energy.
- Silica – Silica dust exposure is a serious threat to nearly 2,000,000 workers the United States. Included in this number are the 100,000+ workers in high-risk jobs such as construction or manufacture of construction materials. Sandblasting releases silica into the air. As a result of this exposure – which can encompass hundreds, even thousands, of square feet surrounding the sand blasting area – workers risk developing silicosis or “sandblasting disease” from inhaling silica particles in the dust. Like similar toxic exposure-related diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestosis, silicosis often takes many years to develop into fatal respiratory illnesses.
- Pesticides – Used in agricultural and gardening settings, offices, and homes, pesticides must be handled and used carefully. If they are not, significant harm to victims can occur. Sometimes the symptoms are immediately apparent. At other times it takes many years. Pesticide poisoning can strike the victim’s nervous system, internal organs, and skin. Many cancers are associated with pesticide poisoning and other pernicious illnesses, such as asthma, autism and other learning disabilities, birth defects, and reproductive dysfunction. Often, when an injured plaintiff files a product liability claim or lawsuit, it’s against a manufacturer because its instructions or cautions did not adequately warn users of the danger. This is the focus of much of the current Monsanto/Roundup Weed Killer litigation.
- Mercury is an element that is highly toxic to humans and the environment. It may occur naturally, but it is also released into the environment through other industrial activities, including cement, bleach, and chlorine production, gold mining, medical, municipal, and hazardous waste incinerators, crematoriums, and the burning of coal in power plants and at a few chemical plants. Once it enters the environment, it is highly mobile and can transform between these chemical forms, allowing it to cycle through the air and water to living organisms and back again. Mercury is highly volatile if burned, such as in a coal-fired power plant, where nearly 100% will be released into the atmosphere if air pollution controls are not used.
According to both the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), coal-fired power plants are the single largest source of mercury contamination in the United States, accounting for 50% of human-caused mercury emissions. Six out of the top 10 biggest mercury-polluting power plants are located in Texas, and they are all old plants.
- Superfund sites – These are land or water areas that are so contaminated by toxic chemicals that they require long-term attention. This contamination often occurs in areas where there were oil refineries, agriculture chemical production operations and other industrial facilities which left chemicals like chromium, arsenic, benzene and dioxin in the environment. In 2019, in Texas, there were 53 priority sites managed by the EPA, with 21 found in Harris County.
Some Superfund sites that have caused problems in Texas include
- Cancer Clusters and Waste Pits around the San Jacinto River, Texas. Waste from an old paper mill factory was dumped in a 14-acre area, contaminating the soil and water with dioxin – a known and deadly carcinogen. Sludge from this waste pit has been slowly seeping into the environment and communities of eastern Harris County for over 40 years. The residents, many lower-income families of color, had complained for years about an increase in cancer rates – and for years the state agencies conducted meetings and tests, and basically did little else to help solve the situation.
On August 5, 2021, EPA issued a Unilateral Administrative Order (UAO) for the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site to International Paper Company to conduct the cleanup of the southern impoundment. However, there have been constant delays, and it is estimated that cleanup will take more than seven years.
- The Union Pacific Railroad Company creosote contamination site.
Creosote is a is a complex mixture of approximately 150 to 200 chemicals derived from coal, approximately 85 percent of which is polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAHs are hazardous environmental pollutants and are well known carcinogens and mutagens with properties that pose a serious threat to human health. Creosote was used to treat and extend the life of railroad ties at a location in Houston’s Greater Fifth Ward up until 1984. Since then, contamination in the soil sank into the ground and contaminated ground beneath 110 homes in the area. This has unknowingly exposed residents in the low-income, predominantly black community, causing illnesses such as leukemia, lung and bronchus, esophagus, and larynx cancers. In January, 2022, EPA announced completion of a review of a proposed Union Pacific Railroad permit renewal and corrective actions that govern cleanup of contamination at the Houston Wood Preserving Works site.
- Aboveground Chemical Storage Tank Fires
The Texas Legislature in June, 2021, passed legislation to create new safety rules for aboveground storage tanks that are part of a petrochemical plant, petroleum refinery or a bulk storage terminal, after a series of high-profile chemical fires. After a catastrophic fire that occurred at the Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) in March 2019, caused by the failure of equipment and a leak at ITC’s chemical tank farm, area residents had to shelter in place because of the hazardous air emissions. Millions of gallons of hazardous waste spilled on the ground and leaked into the water, and smoke hung over the Houston skyline.
Texas has had numerous rules for below-ground chemical storage tanks, including construction standards and plans to prevent spills, but above-ground storage tanks were previously exempt and did great damage.
How to Sue for Environmental Poisoning
GET THE HELP YOU DESERVE TO PURSUE AN ENVIRONMENTAL INJURY LAWSUIT
When innocent people are harmed and suffer damages from waste contamination in their environment due to negligent behavior of a corporation, they may be entitled to compensation for their losses through a lawsuit. Environmental lawsuits are extremely complicated and may take the form of individual or group actions lawsuits. For example, there is an ongoing lawsuit on the San Jacinto River waste pit Superfund site, where more than 600 people are part of the ongoing legal dispute in Harris County, originally filed in 2012. The case has grown into one of the largest environmental class action lawsuits in Texas history. There is also a lawsuit involving thousands of Houston residents against the Union Pacific Railroad Company for contaminating their properties with highly hazardous creosote wood preservatives.
Often, signs of an environmental injury don’t appear right away, which can make filing a claim complicated, and you may not be sure of whether you can join a class action suit or file one individually for personal injury or wrongful death. No matter what your situation, by retaining a seasoned Houston environmental injury attorney from Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law who is familiar with these types of cases, you as a victim are taking the first step toward receiving the necessary financial help you need to recover from the harm you suffered and ensure that those who are at fault are held accountable. We know environmental law and can evaluate cases and determine whether your injuries or damages warrant a lawsuit.
There are no fees to you unless and until you win your case, so call Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law today at (713) 973-8888 for your free case evaluation.