What is a Toxic Mold Lawsuit?
A toxic mold lawsuit is a legal action taken against someone negligent in allowing mold to grow and cause illness. It could be a contractor or builder whose errors led to leaks and mold growth in your home, a realtor or seller who did not disclose mold, or it may be a public building or workplace liable for your illness.
Should I File for Workers’ Compensation or File a Lawsuit?
If you suffered illness from mold exposure at work, you will most likely file a workers’ compensation claim. This is insurance that most employers must have by law. It compensates workers if they get sick or hurt on the job and prevents employees from suing employers.
There are exceptions to this restriction, though. If your employer was grossly negligent in allowing mold to grow and failing to do anything about it, resulting in illness, you may be able to sue. Your lawyer can determine if a lawsuit makes sense in this situation and can also help with a workers’ compensation claim.
Outside of work, a toxic mold lawsuit is usually a toxic tort, a type of personal injury lawsuit related to poisoning by substances. In this case, the substances are mold spores and the compounds they release into the air. The lawsuit generally proceeds like any personal injury lawsuit, although it can be more complicated than most.
Who Can Be Held Liable in a Toxic Mold Lawsuit?
The defendants in a toxic mold lawsuit depend on the situation. If the mold is in your workplace, for instance, you may file a workers’ compensation claim or even file a lawsuit if gross negligence led to the unsafe conditions.
A community building or your child’s school may contain harmful mold, in which case you may have to file a claim before taking further legal action. Suing government organizations is a special case and may or may not be possible.
Most likely you will encounter problem mold where you live. If you rent the property, you can hold the owner and landlord liable. If you own the property, defendants may include one or more of the following:
- An engineer or architect. The design or engineering of a building can lead to the growth of mold. Building professionals must warrant their work. If your home has mold within that period, it could be a breach of warranty.
- The contractor or builder. Mistakes made in the building process could have made your home more vulnerable to mold growth. For instance, if the contractor did not install ventilation correctly, moisture buildup may have caused the mold. The breach of warranty applies here as well.
- Construction suppliers. Suppliers of moldy construction materials could be to blame for your toxic problem.
- Previous owners. In most states, sellers must disclose issues that they know exist in the home, including mold. If they knew about mold but said nothing, they could be liable.
- The realtor. The realtor selling a home with mold also has an obligation to disclose the issue if they know about it.
- Home inspectors. An inspector should find issues in a home, so if they miss a mold infestation that harms you later, you may sue them.
If you become ill because of mold from work, your employer may be negligent. Suing an employer is not typical or allowed in most situations, but your lawyer can help you determine if it is appropriate in your case.
How Will My Lawyer Prove Negligence in a Lawsuit?
There are several steps to proving negligence and liability in a personal injury or toxic tort lawsuit. You must show that the defendant had a duty to act in a reasonable way, that they breached that duty, that the breach caused you harm, and that the harm resulted in damages.
In a toxic mold case, this means your lawyer will have to identify the mold that caused symptoms and show a link between it and the defendant’s actions or failure to act. Here is an example of how this might proceed in a case:
- Your lawyer’s investigators find and identify mold in your leaky basement. A medical expert testifies that the mold likely caused your symptoms.
- Your lawyer then finds that the contracting company hired to seal your basement and fix leaks failed to do the job correctly or use the right materials.
- Failure to do the job up to an acceptable standard represents a breach in duty. Mold grew in the basement as a result.
- The connection between the identified mold, your symptoms, and the contractors who did not do their job proves negligence and that they are liable for damages.
When Should I File a Toxic Mold Lawsuit?
The statute of limitations, or time limit on filing a lawsuit over toxic mold, varies by state. Make sure you know the statute in the state in which you were exposed. Most states limit legal actions to between one and six years after exposure.
With toxic torts, the timeline is not always straightforward. You may not discover, for instance, that mold made you ill until years later. Most states allow for extensions or for the statute to begin at the time of discovery.
What Will I Recover in Damages?
As with other personal injury cases, a toxic mold or toxic tort case helps victims recover damages. The total amount depends on several factors:
- Your medical expenses and expected future costs for healthcare
- Lost wage if you have been too sick to work
- Damage to your home and any necessary repairs or replacements
Non-economic damages are less likely in mold cases because pain and emotional suffering are not typical. Your lawyer can give you a good idea of what you may expect in damages but cannot give an exact amount.
What Are the Steps in a Toxic Mold Lawsuit?
If you decide to proceed with a toxic mold lawsuit, your lawyer will begin with a complaint. This is filed to notify the defendants and make the lawsuit official. The investigation and discovery period follows the complaint. Both sides engage investigators to prove or disprove negligence, hold depositions, and share information.
In most cases, the next step is to negotiate a settlement. The insurance and legal teams representing defendants are usually willing to negotiate because a trial is risky. Juries tend to award more damages to the victim.
You can choose to go through with a trial and take the defendants to court if you don’t like what they offer. In a trial, lawyers on each side present evidence, witnesses, and experts. The jury decides on an award, if any, although a judge may intervene, and either side can appeal the decision.
A toxic mold lawsuit is a big step, but if you have suffered poor health and medical bills from the mold it is a worthwhile step. Talk to a lawyer with experience handling toxic mold cases to find out what to do next.