Toxic Torts Toxic Mold Lawsuits: Preparation & Expectations

  1. If you have serious problems with toxic mold in your home, the “no action” clause in most insurance policies may provide you with only one year to file a lawsuit from the time you discovered the mold. It is critical to properly and efficiently prepare and preserve evidence in order to obtain the best results in your toxic mold case or settlement.

    Document Everything: A List of Essential Items


    It is extremely important for you to document all the problems and damages you have that are caused by toxic mold. Being well organized will increase your chances of favorably settling your toxic mold case with an insurance company and winning your case should it proceed to court.
    • Make sure to keep a journal that provides accurate dates and descriptions of what occurred.
    • Take photographs (and date them) throughout the entire process, from the time you first discovered the mold to inspection and repair.
    • Take photographs (and date them) of any of your household items (in addition to areas) which have been affected by the mold.
    • Keep copies of all bills and receipts for the inspection, repairs, household items which required replacing, expenses relating to relocation, medical expenses and other expenditures you had to pay as a result of the mold.
    • Keep copies of all medical appointments, records and reports.

    Justification for Filing a Lawsuit


    If you or someone from your family has been harmed by toxic mold, it is possible that you may have a legal claim. Most toxic mold cases are typically the result of some type of negligence, such as the following:
    • the manager or owner of the property who failed to deal with the problem in a timely fashion;
    • a seller of a home who was aware of a toxic mold problem but failed to disclose it to the buyer;
    • builders or contractors who built a home and knew or should have known of a toxic mold problem and failed to disclose it;
    • a company responsible for providing defective building supplies.
    Should you have a justification to bring a lawsuit, you could make claims for damages as a result of the following:
    • Inspection costs
    • Repair costs
    • Household items needed to be replaced
    • Alternative temporary housing
    • Current medical expenses
    • Expected future medical expenses
    • Emotional and physical distress

    Toxic Mold Cases Resulting in Substantial Damages


    In the past 10 years, an increasing number of toxic mold lawsuits have been filed and have resulted in some surprisingly large awards. Some early cases which started this trend include the following:
    • In the case of New Haverford Partnership v. Stroot in May 2001, two women in Delaware filed a claim against their landlord for not fixing water leaks and remedying problems with toxic mold in the apartment they rented. They claimed that the landlord’s negligence caused them to suffer asthma attacks and they were awarded $1.04 million by the jury, which was upheld by the Delaware Supreme Court.
    • In the case of Anderson v. Allstate Ins. Co. in 2000, a jury in the U.S. District Court in California awarded $18 million to a homeowner when the plaintiff’s insurance refused to honor his claims for mold damage. This award was dropped to $3 million. It is also interesting to take note that $17.5 million of the original award consisted of punitive damages.
    • In the case of Ballard v. Fire Ins. Exch. in June 2001, a homeowner in Texas was awarded $32 million as a result of the jury finding that the insurance carrier was unfair, fraudulent and deceptive in the evaluation of the mold damage claimed under the homeowner’s policy. The amount was appealed and later reduced to a still hefty $4 million.
    As a result of the increasing number of toxic mold lawsuits, there are a growing number of insurance companies who no longer provide insurance coverage for toxic mold and have placed mold exclusions into their policies.

    What Type of Attorney Handles Toxic Mold Cases?


    As toxic mold cases usually concern personal injuries, most experienced personal injury lawyers handle toxic mold claims. A good personal injury attorney should be able to handle both issues with your insurance company as well as any lawsuit or trial, should one become necessary.
    Accident & Injury Law:
    Toxic Mold

    Michael M. Wechsler

    Michael M. Wechsler
    Michael M. Wechsler is an experienced attorney, founder of TheLaw.com, A. Research Scholar at Columbia Business School and of-counsel to Kaplan, Williams & Graffeo, LLC. He was also an SVP and chief Internet strategist at Zedge.net and legal consultant at Kroll Ontrack, a leading service e-discovery and computer forensics service provider.

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