Toxic air lawsuits are a relatively recent development in personal injury law. This type of lawsuit comes in two varieties: cases involving outdoor air pollution and cases involving indoor air quality. Although clean air is a basic necessity, there are surprisingly few ways to ensure that you will recover damages for an injury suffered from breathing polluted air.
Lawsuits Based on Outdoor Air Pollution
Unlike water pollution, which has a long history under state law, there are few successful lawsuits based on outdoor air pollution. Cases can be brought under traditional legal theories, such as nuisance, trespass, and negligence, but the movable nature of air makes it difficult to identify the responsible party. Even when the party can be identified, it is difficult to prove the party is responsible for an injury that may not arise for decades. It is even more difficult to prove the party is responsible for an increase in the level of illness in a particular area. The difficulty in establishing cause and proving damages has made personal injury cases based on outdoor air pollution rare.
Indoor Air Pollution Lawsuits Are More Successful
Indoor air quality can be an issue in any type of building, including residential apartment buildings and office buildings. Toxic air can result from asbestos, radon, mold, cleaning chemicals, tobacco smoke, and other substances. Lawsuits based on indoor air quality have become more popular because of scientific innovation. Science can now detect toxins in the air and tie those toxins to specific illnesses.
Federal Regulations Do Not Address Indoor Air Quality
The Clean Air Act sets standards for outdoor air emissions, but it does not address indoor air quality standards. Even though a majority of people spend most of their time indoors, there is no single federal agency that regulates indoor air quality. The lack of federal standards makes it more difficult to pursue private claims for injuries.
Certain States Have Established Indoor Air Quality Standards
States such as California and Washington have passed laws that establish standards and liability for indoor air quality. Until the federal government acts, state laws and local health regulations are important standards that can determine the success of this area of personal injury litigation.
A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
The law surrounding personal injuries caused by breathing bad air is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a personal injury lawyer.