Law Suits Against Landlords Regarding Mold In Tenants

Two Women in Delaware

Two women in Delaware were awarded $1.04 million because their landlord failed to fix leaks which led to mold in the residence, as well as claimed health issues as a result.

Desert State Claims Rise Even Faster

In desert states such as Arizona and New Mexico, the number of mold claims against insurance companies continues to rise faster than in any other part of the nation.

This is due to the increase in new construction, as well as the need of the occupants to use air conditioners, which can trap and redistribute mold spore.

With more homes being built, more water being run into commercial buildings, and more people being aware of the hazards of mold, lawsuits will onl

Why are Mold Lawsuit Cases Rising?

Lawsuits against building owners, contractors, and insurance companies have skyrocketed over the last 10 years. Many people blame the increasing American culture of wanting to sue.

However, many factors play into the overall increase of claims being filed.

Many fears of mold, and the claims that go with them, are without warrant, though there are a number of valid claims that are filed every day.

Judges and juries have already awarded millions in several lawsuits regarding health and home damage that resulted from mold exposure.

What is Toxic Mold?

Molds are found virtually everywhere- outdoor and indoors. Common indoor molds include Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, andPenicillium. Although most are harmless, two types of household molds – Stachybotrys and Memnoniella — are toxicigenic and can pose health risks to humans.

Stachybotrys chartarum, or “black mold,” is the fungus associated with “toxic mold syndrome.” It grows in damp places on materials that contain cellulose such as wood, carpet, cardboard, wallpaper, wet leaves, hay, and straw.

What are the Risks of Being Exposed to Toxic Mold?

While there aren’t standard guidelines about how much or what kind of mold is toxic, mold, especially in high concentrations, has been blamed for:

  • Headaches
  • Skin rashes
  • Respiratory problems
  • Lung disease
  • Memory loss and brain damage (in extreme circumstances
  • Infant death

What Should I Do if my House is Contaminated?

It’s important to contact your homeowner’s insurance company, or notify your landlord’s insurance company, as soon as you are aware of a potential mold problem.

The insurance company will want to send out an inspector to determine the type of mold and the source of the problem. Inspections cost at least $1,500, which should be paid by the insurance company. If you aren’t happy with the inspection done by the insurance company, you may want to hire your own inspector for a second opinion.

Many insurance policies have what’s called a “no action” clause, which requires you to file a lawsuit within a year of discovering the mold. And all states have what’s called “statutes of limitation” that require you to file a lawsuit within a short time after discovering the problem. So if you can’t come to an agreement with the insurance company as to what damages should be paid, or if the insurance company claims damage caused by mold is excluded under the insurance policy, it’s time to contact a lawyer who specializes in personal injury or insurance law.

If you own the property, you have the legal duty to “mitigate your damages” by ridding yourself of the mold as soon as possible. The “remediation” process often involves ripping out walls and floor surfaces to eliminate the mold. It will also be necessary to repair the source of the water damage that made the mold growth possible, such as burst pipes, leaky foundations and so forth.

You may need to temporarily relocate while the remediation repair work is going on, so as not to expose yourself to mold in the air. If you’ve been told you must leave your apartment because it’s unsafe for you to stay, you may have been “constructively evicted” and your landlord should pay for the costs of relocating to another apartment.

What Kind of Information Do I Need?

Whether you end up being able to negotiate successfully with the insurance company, or must file a lawsuit and go to court, will depend in part on how organized and thorough you are in documenting the mold problem and your damages. At a minimum, you should save:

  • Photos taken at every step of the process, from first discovering the mold through inspection and repair, including photos of household items contaminated by the mold
  • Bills and receipts for inspections, repairs, medical expenses, household items you had to replace, relocation expenses, and any other expenses caused by the mold problem
  • Medical reports and records

What Kind of Lawyer Do I Need?

You’ll want to look for a personal injury lawyer who has had some experience dealing with toxic mold issues. It’s especially important to find a lawyer who knows how to negotiate with insurance companies, but can also take your case to trial if necessary.

What About Filing a Lawsuit?

If you or a family member have been harmed by toxic mold, you may have a negligence legal claim against:

  • Your landlord or property managers
  • The people who sold you your house, if they knew about the mold and didn’t disclose the problem
  • The contractors who built your apartment or home
  • The suppliers or manufacturers of defective building materials

You may have a legal right to recover the costs of:

  • Inspection
  • Repair
  • Replacing ruined household items
  • Finding other housing during repairs
  • Medical expenses
  • Future medical expenses
  • Emotional distress

Juries have made substantial awards in mold cases.

  • In Delaware, two women claimed that their landlord failed to fix leaks and mold problems in their apartment and that his negligence resulted in asthma attacks. The jury awarded the women $1.04 million’an award that was upheld by the Delaware Supreme Court.
  • A Texas jury awarded a homeowner $32 million after finding that the homeowner’s insurance carrier acted in an unfair, deceptive, and fraudulent manner when evaluating the homeowner’s property damage claim for mold. The award was reduced to $4 million on appeal.
  • In California, a jury awarded a homeowner $18 million after his insurance carrier denied his claims for mold damage. The award was later reduced to $3 million.

In response to the growing number of mold-related lawsuits, some insurance companies have inserted absolute mold exclusions into some of their insurance policies sold to building owners and are denying coverage for toxic mold claims.

Even so, the evidence is unclear. Researchers conducting a medical review of 50 mold cases were able to identify other medical causes to explain the illnesses of persons suffering from “toxic mold syndrome.”

Related Resources on Lawyers.comsm

Lawsuits against Landlords for Mold

Absolutely. And more and more renters are doing just that. Mold is a proven health hazard, especially to young children, the elderly and those who have respiratory problems.

You must also make sure that you have documentation of everything. Also, any problems pertaining to the mold must be in writing to provide backup, otherwise you may not have a legitimate suit. If you signed a mold addendum when you moved in, make sure you read your copy thouroughly for more info. Since mold is caused from some sort of water, your landlord must fix the problem, it is most likely a leak. (Again, this must be in writing) In Texas, I know for sure after you give them 3 letters in writing (certified mail is a good way to go), you can break your contract and then I would pursue legal action.

What Is Mold And What Causes It?

Mold is type of fungus that is present in our natural environment. Mold spores, which ar tiny microscopic “seeds”, can be found virtually everywhere, including in homes, and are a part of the general dust found in homes. These spores can grow on building materials and furnishings if conditions are correct. Excess moisture is the critical factor in any indoor mold problem. Mold growth should not be tolerated in our homes. Eventually, the moisture and mold will damage what it is growing on, which may include both the building and the renter’s personal belongings. The key to preventing mold growth is to prevent moisture problems.

What Are The Health Concerns?

Health effects from exposure to mold can vary greatly depending on the person, the amount of mold in their home. The type of symptoms that may occur include coughing, wheezing, nasal symptoms and throat symptoms. People with asthma or allergies who are sensitive to mold may notice their asthma or allergy symptoms worsen. Individuals with severely weakened immune system who are exposed to moldy environments are at risk of developing serious fungal respiratory infections. MDH recommends that people consult a medical professional if they are concerned about the effects of a moldy environment on their health.

June 23, 2010  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  Posted in: Uncategorized

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