Property Owners Near Chemical Spills Can Assert Legal Claims For Devaluation of Their Home

As a personal injury lawyer, I understand that environmental disasters such as chemical spills often disproportionately affect low-income residents. If you are a low-income resident whose home was harmed by a chemical spill, you may be entitled to compensation for any damages or personal injuries you sustained. In this blog post, I will explain how you can protect your rights and get the compensation you deserve by learning more about the personal injury law surrounding property trespass related to homes located near chemical spills.

Chemical Spills and Personal Injury Claims: The Law

If a chemical spill has harmed your property, you may be able to file a personal injury claim based on the principle of property trespass. This principle applies when someone enters or causes something to enter your property without your permission. The chemicals that entered your property without your consent may be considered the “something” that caused property trespass in the case of a chemical spill.

You may have a claim for negligence in addition to property trespass if the party responsible for the spill acted negligently. Negligence occurs when someone fails to exercise reasonable care, causing harm to another person or property. For example, if a chemical company was aware of a potential spill but did not take adequate precautions to prevent it, they may be held liable. If you can demonstrate that the party responsible for the spill acted negligently, you may be able to recover compensation for any personal injuries you sustained as a result of the spill.

Finally, some jurisdictions have laws that hold those responsible for chemical spills strictly liable. Strict liability means that the responsible party is liable for any spill-related damages, regardless of negligence. Because you do not have to prove negligence, you may find it easier to recover compensation for your losses.

Defending Your Rights

It is critical to protect your legal rights if you are a low-income resident whose home has been impacted by a chemical spill. Here are some things you can do:

Take pictures of the damage: Take photos and videos of any spill-related damage, such as damage to your home, personal property, or landscaping.

Seek medical attention immediately if you have suffered any personal injuries as a result of the spill. Your health and safety should come first.

Contact a lawyer: An experienced personal injury attorney can assist you in understanding your legal rights and navigating the claims process. They can also negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf to ensure you get the money you deserve.

Getting the Restitution You Deserve

You may be entitled to compensation if you have suffered damages or personal injuries as a result of a chemical spill. Medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering can all be covered by compensation. An attorney can assist you in negotiating with insurance companies to ensure you receive the compensation you are entitled to.

Finally, low-income residents whose homes have been impacted by a chemical spill have legal rights and may be able to seek compensation for damages and personal injuries. It is critical to act to protect your rights, seek medical attention if necessary, and contact an attorney who can help you navigate the claims process and fight for the compensation you deserve.

Chemical Spill Exposure Victims Are Targets For “Swoop And Settle” Tactic By Unscrupulous Insurance Companies

As a personal injury lawyer, one of the most aggravating insurance practices I’ve seen is the “swoop and settle” strategy. This is when an insurance company makes a lowball settlement offer to a victim of a personal injury accident before the victim has had a chance to consult with an attorney or fully understand the extent of their injuries. In this blog post, I’ll explain why the “swoop and settle” strategy is unjust and how you can avoid falling victim to it.

What Exactly Is “Swoop and Settle”?

“Swoop and settle” is an insurance company tactic in which the insurance company contacts an accident victim shortly after the accident, often within days or even hours of the accident, and offers a quick settlement for a relatively small amount of money. The insurance company is aware that the victim is likely still in shock as a result of the accident, may not have realized the full extent of their injuries, and may not have had time to consult with an attorney. The insurance company hopes to avoid paying a higher settlement in the future by making a quick settlement offer.

What Makes “Swoop and Settle” Unjust?

For several reasons, the “swoop and settle” strategy is unjust. For starters, accident victims may not fully comprehend the extent of their injuries and may be unaware of the full cost of their medical treatment or the extent of their lost wages. Accepting a settlement offer too soon may result in the victim receiving far less than they deserve.

Second, the insurance company exploits the victim’s vulnerable state following an accident. They hope to avoid the victim seeking legal advice and learning their rights by contacting them quickly and offering a settlement. The insurance company is essentially betting that the victim will accept the settlement and fail to recognize that they may be entitled to much more.

Finally, the tactic of “swoop and settle” is unjust because it undermines the legal system. The legal system is set up to ensure that victims of personal injury accidents are fairly compensated for their injuries. The insurance company’s strategy of offering a quick, low settlement is an attempt to avoid paying what they owe by skirting around the system.

How to Avoid “Swoop and Settling”

The best way to avoid the “swoop and settle” strategy is to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible following an accident. An attorney can advise you on your legal rights and ensure that you are compensated fairly for your injuries.

Furthermore, do not accept any settlement offers without first consulting with an attorney. The first settlement offer from the insurance company is frequently much lower than what you may be entitled to and accepting it may result in you receiving far less than you deserve.  Never make any agreement to settle a claim before knowing the full extent of all injuries and claims.  Once you release a claim, it is too late.  Some states even allow oral releases of claims so be extra careful when speaking with any person looking to settle your claim.

When dealing specifically with claims after a chemical spill, remember that if spilled chemicals trespass onto your property and damage it, you may have a claim for damages to the value of the property.  Also, please understand that many times medical injuries from chemical exposure can occur years later.  Any release should be tailored only to  damages you have sustained so far specifically reserving claims for exposure injuries that may become apparent in the future.

To summarize, the “swoop and settle” insurance practice is an unethical practice used by insurance companies to save money. You can protect yourself from falling victim to this practice and receive fair compensation for your injuries by understanding your rights and consulting with an attorney.

Safety Steps for Those in Areas Affected by Chemical Spill

Follow evacuation orders: If authorities have issued evacuation orders, it is critical that you leave the area as soon as possible. Do not pause or delay in returning until it is safe to do so. It should be noted that if a resident feels unsafe and believes that their health or safety is in jeopardy, they should take precautions even if authorities have not issued evacuation orders. It is critical to trust your instincts and act to ensure your personal safety.

Stay inside your home or another building if you are unable to evacuate. Close all windows and doors and turn off all ventilation systems, including air conditioners and heaters. Seal any cracks or gaps around doors and windows with duct tape or towels. Wear a face mask, long sleeves, and pants if you must go outside to protect your skin from any hazardous chemicals.

Do not touch or ingest any liquids or materials that appear to be contaminated with hazardous chemicals. If you come into contact with any hazardous materials, immediately wash the affected area with soap and water.

Keep an eye out for updates: Stay informed about the situation by keeping an eye out for updates and instructions on local news broadcasts, radio stations, or other official channels.

Make a “go bag”: If you are ordered to evacuate, pack a “go bag” with essentials like medications, clothing, personal hygiene items, and important documents and keep it ready to go at all times. Important things to remember include:

  • Identification: Each member of your household should have a form of identification, such as a driver’s license, passport, or birth certificate.
  • Insurance Information: Having your insurance information, including policy numbers and contact information for your insurance company, is critical. Home insurance, car insurance, health insurance, and life insurance are all examples.
  • Medical Information: Keep a list of any medications you or your family members are taking, as well as information about any medical conditions, allergies, and emergency contacts.
  • Financial Documents: Important financial documents, such as credit card information, bank account information, and tax records, should be available.
  • Pet Information: If you have pets, keep copies of their vaccination records and any medications they may require.
  • Legal Documents: Make copies of important legal documents such as wills, powers of attorney, and property deeds.
  • Emergency Contacts: It is critical to keep a list of emergency contacts, which should include family members, friends, and neighbors.
  • Personal Items: Including a few personal items, such as a change of clothes, toiletries, and a few comfort items, such as a favorite book or game, can be beneficial.

Seek medical attention right away if you are experiencing symptoms such as coughing, difficulty breathing, dizziness, or nausea.

Avoid drinking, cooking, or bathing in contaminated water: Do not drink, cook, or bathe in contaminated water. Use only bottled water or water that has been boiled or disinfected.

Photograph and video to document your exposure as it may be useful to your doctors and/or potential attorneys. They can help provide visual evidence of the extent of the contamination as well as establish the circumstances surrounding the exposure.

Keep any written documentation or communication related to the exposure, such as emails, letters, or notices. This can help provide a comprehensive record of the exposure and any resulting effects on your health.

Document & Monitor Your Health

If you have been exposed to a toxic chemical spill, you should seek an evaluation from your primary care provider to determine your current health status and to monitor any potential health effects in the future. Here are some ideas for what you can do:

Inform your primary care physician that you have been exposed to a toxic chemical spill. Inquire whether they can perform an initial evaluation and blood panel/workup to determine your current health status.

Schedule a visit with your primary care physician as soon as possible. Bring any documentation or evidence of the exposure, such as photographs, video, or physical evidence.

Explain to your provider the details of the exposure, including when and where it occurred, as well as any symptoms you have experienced since. Be as specific and detailed as possible.

Request a complete blood panel/workup from your provider to determine your baseline health status. This could include tests for potential toxins or chemicals to which you have been exposed.

After the initial evaluation, work with your primary care provider to develop a plan for ongoing health monitoring. Regular follow-up appointments, additional testing, or other monitoring measures may be included.

Maintain meticulous records of all medical treatment and monitoring related to the exposure. This includes doctor’s appointments, lab tests, and any medications prescribed to you.

Remember that it is critical to act quickly and pro-actively in order to determine your current state of health and document any potential effects of the exposure. This can assist you in protecting your rights and holding those responsible accountable for the harm they have caused.

Informational Websites: Government and NonGovernment

Several government and non-government websites where you can research and learn more about the chemicals that were spilled, and the potential health risks associated with exposure. Here are some websites that you might find useful:

Website NameWebsite URLDescription
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and monitors the release of hazardous chemicals into the environment, provides information on different types of chemicals, their properties, and potential health risks associated with exposure
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) research and makes recommendations to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses, provides information on hazardous chemicals and their health effects
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) health risks associated with hazardous substances in the environment, provides information on different types of chemicals and potential health risks associated with exposure
World Health Organization (WHO) organization that provides information on public health issues, including hazardous chemicals and their health effects
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) agency responsible for protecting public health and safety, provides information on hazardous chemicals and their health effects
Greenpeace organization that advocates for environmental protection and provides information on hazardous chemicals and their health effects
Environmental Defense Fund organization that advocates for environmental protection and provides information on hazardous chemicals and their health effects
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) organization that advocates for environmental protection and provides information on hazardous chemicals and their health effects

Potential Responsible Parties

The train company: The investigation should focus on the train company that owns and operates the derailed train. This includes an examination of their safety record, maintenance procedures, and employee training procedures.

The train crew should be interviewed to determine if there were any errors or safety violations that contributed to the accident.

The condition of the track and surrounding infrastructure, such as bridges and tunnels, should be investigated to determine if any defects or maintenance issues contributed to the derailment.

The cargo: The type of cargo carried by the train should be investigated to determine if it was properly secured and if any hazardous materials contributed to the accident.

Other parties: Other parties involved in the construction, maintenance, or operation of the train or track, such as contractors or suppliers, should be investigated to determine if they played a role in the accident.

Website NameWebsiteDescription
Norfolk Southern of the Norfolk Southern Railway Company, providing information about the company, its operations, and safety practices
Federal Railroad Administration of train accidents and incidents, track inspections and incidents, and other safety-related data
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) federal agency that investigates transportation accidents and makes safety recommendations
American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Assn association of railway engineers providing technical resources and standards for railway design and maintenance
Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration agency that regulates the transportation of hazardous materials by pipeline and other means
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) agency that regulates the safety of commercial motor vehicles and drivers
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) agency that regulates motor vehicle safety and sets safety standards for new vehicles
Public records databases (e.g. LexisNexis, Dun & Bradstreet, Hoovers)Varies depending on the databaseCommercial databases that provide information about companies and individuals, including public records and financial data

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