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Legal Options for Defects that Cause Mold

If you have suffered property losses from toxic mold in your home or the workplace, you may consider a legal claim against those responsible. After all, mold isn't always a maintenance issue. Shoddy workmanship can bring mold to your property, too. That means you'll have to foot the bill for renovations and repair projects. It can be very expensive to replace damaged property and pay for mold removal.

Several different claims are possible in cases of toxic mold exposure. Among other factors, your specific claim will depend upon:

  • The circumstances of your property exposure
  • The extent of damage to your property
  • Mold remediation costs to clean your real estate and personal property
  • The replacement cost of damaged or destroyed property

This article will give you some basic information about potential property damage claims that may arise due to toxic mold exposure.

Toxic Mold Injuries: Who is Responsible?

You may sue for personal injuries if you suffer harm from toxic mold exposure. Different types of mold, such as Aspergillus or Stachybotrys chartarum (black mold), can have adverse health effects. Toxic mold cases may involve health problems like memory loss and allergic reactions. Plaintiffs exposed to harmful levels of mold may suffer other health conditions. Personal injury claims arise from mycotoxins (toxic chemicals) released from mold spores.

But injuries can also happen against your property. After an infestation, you might have to remove the drywall and replace other building materials. Mold growth can also accompany air conditioning problems and water damage in your home. Suppose a condominium is no longer fit for habitability while experiencing these mold issues. Who should foot the bill?

The presence of mold in construction defect cases naturally means contractors may be responsible. You may sue those responsible for your structural damages and remediation costs. Potential defendants include:

  • Contractors and subcontractors (including general contractors, roofers, framers, siding/stucco contractors)
  • Architects and structural engineers (parties who have failed to incorporate mold prevention in design)
  • Material suppliers and manufacturers (including window manufacturers, siding manufacturers, air conditioning manufacturers and repairers)
  • Previous homeowners (for failing to disclose known problems)

Toxic Mold Injuries: Possible Damages

Inspection and mold testing. You may have a claim for all the professional expenses that arise from your toxic mold problem. The amount of your claim will depend on the severity of the infestation and how much you get charged.

Cleanup, property replacement, and structural fixes. Water and mold can cause serious structural damage in a home or commercial building. You may also lose personal items like furniture and clothing. Make a list of all such property, and look online for how much it would cost to replace them. Also, legal claims for property damage may include the cost of fixing structural elements such as:

  • Walls and windows
  • Moldings
  • Ceiling tiles
  • Floors

You can get pre-work estimates to better understand how much this will all cost. Many times, you'll have to remove and replace structural elements. This may be because they have been weakened or are ineffective in keeping out moisture. It may also be because cleaning would not do enough to return the structure to a habitable state.

Cleanup costs for infected ventilation systems can also be very high. It's difficult to inspect a ventilation system without professional help. The whole system may have to get replaced. This is because mold remaining in the system can be a gateway for it to spread to all rooms within the structure.

Toxic Mold Injuries: Legal Theories of Liability

  • Negligence. Negligence is the most common theory of recovery in mold cases. Negligence is the failure of a responsible party to work with the degree of care that a person of reasonable prudence would use under the same or similar circumstances. For example, a contractor in a mold case may be negligent because they failed to use reasonable care in sealing the moisture out of your home or commercial building. Then, that failure caused mold infestation, resulting in illness, structural damage, or excessive clean-up costs.
  • Breach of warranty. Many states have laws that require builders and architects to warranty their work for a specified period. You may have a warranty claim if your home or commercial building suffers from a mold infestation problem because of faulty workmanship. You should contact an attorney when you discover mold or water intrusion. Many warranty statutes have time limits on when you must bring your claim.
  • Failure to disclose. Most states require previous owners to disclose material facts affecting the value or desirability of the property they sell. If a previous owner knew of a potential mold problem and failed to tell the potential buyer, they may be liable. You may complain against them in a failure-to-disclose claim. As with breach of warranty, you should contact an attorney when you discover mold or water intrusion. This is because many states have time limits on when you can bring a failure-to-disclose claim.

Settlement Versus Litigation

A property owner will generally want to start with an insurance claim. Your own insurance or contractor's insurance company are potential places for recovery. If an insurance company doesn't want to pay out, you may have to escalate the matter to court.

Mold claims are part of a larger field of toxic tort litigation. That means mold-related lawsuits involve scientific questions about wrongful acts connected to dangerous chemicals. As a result, you should be aware of the disclaimer that there are benefits and disadvantages in settlement.

Since most lawsuits involve expert testimony on toxins, they can be expensive. A quick settlement might help you get money quickly to replace your damaged property. But a prolonged lawsuit can be costly and emotionally painful. No one likes a drawn-out court battle. But some plaintiffs choose to take their cases to trial.

Litigating your toxic mold claim can have its own advantages. If you take your time and advance your case, you might enjoy a larger recovery. If you can take the financial and emotional pain of litigation, a jury might dish out the big bucks against the defendants. For example, one mold lawsuit in California resulted in a $13 million verdict.

A Toxic Mold Lawyer Can Help

Recovering your property costs after mold damage can be challenging. Because insurance companies are often unwilling to settle in bad faith, the insurance claims process is difficult. Even worse, mold litigation involves using expensive experts and complicated laws. A toxic mold attorney can help you recover quickly instead of a prolonged toxic mold lawsuit.

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