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You Have Rights as the Victim of an Oil Spill in New York

Posted by Sunshine, Isaacson & Hecht LLP on March 1st, 2023

Oil spills are a detriment to our communities and anyone who lives in them. The damage to personal health, homes, and the environment will be significant – prompting expensive and urgent cleanup efforts.

When your home or your business is the location of an oil spill, your livelihood is at stake. What you do in the immediate aftermath is crucial, but you need to understand your rights under New York’s Oil Spill Act before you can make any decisions.

New York’s Navigation Law

The rights of oil spill victims in New York State are provided and protected through the Oil Spill Act which is Article 12 of the New York Navigation Law. We have previously covered Navigation Law in-depth, but what is imperative to understand is that the act, implemented in 1977, holds the “discharger of oil” strictly liable for an oil spill.

The “discharger” will be any individual or organization that was dispensing oil at the location where a spill occurred. This can be a tanker delivering oil to a business or home with an oil heating system. This can be a technician coming to service your system and failing to properly tighten up the equipment before leaving the property. It can also be a company providing faulty oil tanks or other equipment that results in a spill.

Covering Costs of Cleanup

What matters to you is that, even if you have to pay upfront to get the cleanup and remediation process started, you have a right to be compensated for your losses. As noted above, the discharger of oil or the supplier of defective equipment that causes a spill will be held financially responsible for a spill.

If you are unable to pay for the cost upfront, the New York Environmental Protection and Spill Compensation Fund will handle the initial costs and pursue reimbursement from the responsible party or parties.

Loss of Property Value

The costs associated with an oil spill don’t stop at just the cleanup efforts. You may lose significant value in your home or business when the property is exposed to an oil spill. This loss of value in your property can also be covered through a Diminution of Value compensation from the responsible party.

The same can be said for situations where you are forced out of your home and must seek alternative housing. Essentially, any reasonable financial losses you incur that can be directly attributed to the oil spill on your property must be documented and returned to you by the discharger of oil or supplier of faulty equipment. This includes the recovery of legal fees.

Get Sunshine, Isaacson & Hecht Involved Immediately

At Sunshine, Isaacson & Hecht, our team proudly supports New Yorkers and protects their rights when exposed to an oil spill at their home or business. The sooner you get us involved the better as the toxic fumes you are being exposed to create a significant health risk to you, your family, and anyone else who spends time around the spill.

We have qualified professionals with experience in environmental law who will handle your case and get you the compensation you are owed under New York’s Navigation Law. Contact our firm if you are ever exposed to an oil spill in New York.

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