Environmental litigation can cover a broad range of cases and situations. This includes both civil and criminal cases. There are a number of regulatory programs that may come into play with environmental litigation such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
Environmental litigation covers such a broad spectrum of possible situations; it can be related to environmental enforcement litigation, enforcement actions, or claims brought up by private parties. Lawyers that specialize in environmental litigation need to be prepared for anything, and they need to stay current with all laws and regulations related to possible litigation.
Environmental litigation like all types of litigation is costly. The estimated annual cost of a civil lawsuits to the United States economy is $233 billion. Further, the estimated annual cost of civil lawsuits to each United States citizen is $809.
Depending on the case, environmental litigation may include a claim for punitive damages. This is particularly true in cases involving people who have suffered do to being put at risk of a definite health risk. In a punitive damages lawsuit, the average amount awarded is $50,000.
This is considerably less than many people assume do to the media frenzy that happens when a lawsuit results in an extremely high damage amount. The media does not cover the majority of punitive cases, and the ones that are covered do not inform people about the costs associated with the lawsuit, which are a factor in what the individual actually receives.
Lawyers that specialize in environmental litigation will have a high level of knowledge regarding the often complex technical and scientific issues that are faced by industries such as hazardous waste, paper and pulp, and oil and chemical. Understanding the industries as well as the regulatory laws that apply to them is essential.
Legal actions concerning these industries often include site investigations, notices of violations, stop orders, information demands, emergency relief, injunctive relief, and civil penalties. Environmental litigation can be initiated by a group, community, company, or individual. There are no limitations in that regard.
This area of litigation is different than if you needed a personal injury lawyer, real estate attorney, or a business litigation attorney. You want to find an experienced attorney working with a law firm that thoroughly understands environmental litigation.