What Do I Need To Win?
Toxic mold litigation is a growing field in law. However, only certain attorneys are qualified to handle these types of cases. Dealing with a toxic mold case absorbs resources and time. Be prepared as litigation can last for over 2 years and injuries can be difficult to prove. If you have been exposed to toxic mold you need to know your rights, and how to build your case. An attorney who specializes in mold cases will be able to tell you what your local laws are.
Evaluating Your Case
When evaluating a mold case attorneys consider the following factors in preparing for trial or in evaluating whether a case exist:
- What were the causes of the mold infestation?
- Where on the property was the mold located or where did it expand to?
- Was the mold airborne and did it have the ability to become airborne?
- What type of mold was involved?
Mold is generally not considered as harmful if it is not airborne, so determining whether it was airborne or not is important. Additionally, since there are multiple variations of mold, identifying what type of mold infected your home is critical.
Don’t expect an attorney to build your case out of nothing. Keep detailed records regarding the events, such as:
- Any time which leaks took place.
- Whether any persons were dispatched to clean up or repair leaking pipes.
- Names of companies who performed clean up services.
- Any communication you have had with the landlord which may have put them on notice.
- Results of any mold tests that were conducted, including the date and company.
Landlord liability can depend on a number of different factors. One of the most important elements to landlord liability is notice. Did the landlord have notice? Notice can be constructive or actual.
Constructive notice is knowledge through various facts which would make a reasonable person have knowledge. Actual knowledge is when the landlord is told either through a tenant, repairman or through their own investigation that mold exist on the property. Under such instances the landlord will be charged with notice. Landlords are also held liable when they fail to inform future or prospective tenants of the existence of mold.
California law imposes a duty on residential landlords to disclose to both current and prospective landlords the existence of mold. While landlords are not required to conduct certain types of testing, they are required to make disclosures of mold.
Claim for Damages
Understanding your cause of action for damages can depend on a number of different factors. Typically you can bring a cause of action for: (1) property damage; (2) personal injury; and (3) emotional distress.
A claim for property damage can include causes of action for breach of contract, defect in construction, destruction or loss of your personal property, cost for remediation, “stigma damage” from the diminution of property value and reasonable cost for testing.
Claims for personal injury are another avenue for your claim. Those who have been exposed to toxic mold can suffer considerable health issues such as immune system issues, bronchitis, loss of memory, lesions against kidneys and emotional distress. This is not a complete list of injuries. Plaintiffs can suffer from a number of different injuries. To fully understand the depth of your complications a medical professional should be consulted.
Emotional distress is another component for calculating damages. This considers the fear of future medical issues and other psychological impacts from exposure to mold. Plaintiffs can also assert claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress if the landlord knew of mold, but failed to disclose it.
Cost of Litigation
Most attorneys dealing with personal injury matters take cases on a contingency basis. This generally means that unless there is recovery you are not required to pay them anything. However, make sure to read the agreement. Since toxic mold litigation can be challenging it is important to make clear what you are responsible for in the event that a lawsuit is not successful.
If your attorney feels you have a strong case then it is likely that he will accept the case on a contingency basis. Many attorneys charge upfront fees to review the file. It is suggested that you be very careful with regards to paying these types of fees. While they may be warranted it may not be the best solution. Make sure to do your research on the firm and attorneys.
Mr. Farid Yaghoubtil is a senior partner at Downtown L.A. Law Group. A Los Angeles based personal injury law firm dealing with all types of personal injury claims.