Environmental Hazards – Responsibility and Public Liability
When you think of environmental hazards in Australia, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? While you might picture spider bites, bushfires or beach safety, there is actually another category of environmental hazard to be aware of – and it’s often found in our homes and workplaces.
Hazards such as mould, asbestos or contaminated water might seem minor at first, but they can lead to a range of lifelong diseases and medical conditions. Hazards such as these can also be dangerous for individuals with existing conditions, which may become aggravated upon exposure.
While it’s easy to dismiss mould as something that “just happens”, we all have a responsibility to maintain our living or working environments.
In this article, we look at the parties who are responsible for environmental hazards and whether or not you are entitled to personal injury compensation.
A Closer Look at Personal Injury and Environmental Hazards
A little bit of mould on the wall might seem innocuous at first, but environmental hazards like this can lead to lifelong medical conditions in the long term. Here are some examples of injuries caused by mould and other common environmental hazards:
- Mould related injuries: including irritation to the skin or eyes, severe allergic reactions, mould infections in the lungs (which may require surgery), and asthma attacks in people who have asthma.
- Asbestos-related injuries: conditions caused by exposure to asbestos-containing substances, including asbestosis, chest and respiratory conditions, and cancers of the lungs or chest.
- Injuries related to other irritants: such as occupational asthma, which develops in workers due to exposure to gases or vapours in the workplace.
Who Is Responsible for My Injury?
When you suffer from a new or aggravated medical condition due to environmental hazards, it can be hard to know who is responsible. In reality, different parties may be responsible for an environmental hazard in different circumstances.
To explain this, let’s take a look at a common situation – mould in a rental property.
Mould in a Rental Property – Tenant & Landlord Responsibilities
As a tenant, you have the right to live in a property that is clean and generally in good condition. It’s the landlord’s responsibility to ensure the rental property is in adequate condition before the tenant moves in, including the removal of any mould.
If a tenant discovers mould during the course of their tenancy, they should work together with the landlord to have it removed as quickly as possible.
Whether the landlord or tenant pays for the removal of the mould depends on how it was caused. Generally, if the mould was caused by pre-existing issues with the property, the landlord will be responsible for the payment. However, if the mould was caused by an unclean environment that the tenant created, they may be responsible for the costs.
Either way, it is important to deal with the mould problem swiftly and professionally.
Claiming Compensation for Mould-Related Health Problems
The example above becomes more complicated if the tenant develops a new or aggravated medical condition as the result of mould. If your landlord failed to clean up the mould and you have been harmed as a result, you may be entitled to make a public liability claim.
Similarly, if you have been harmed due to an environmental hazard in the workplace, you may be entitled to work injury damages compensation.
Learn more about Environmental Hazards and Personal Injury
If you or somebody you care about has suffered injury or illness due to exposure to an environmental hazard, you may be entitled to compensation. For more information, and to arrange a free, no-obligation assessment of your claim, please contact Stacks Goudkamp on 1800 25 1800, or alternatively, make an online enquiry.