Who Is Responsible For Toxic Mold Injuries
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A toxic mold contamination is often costly in itself. There are costs associated with testing, occupant relocation, cleanup, and the replacement of any damaged materials. If an illness has been contracted from the presence of toxic mold, the cost goes even higher. It also raises the price tag on other damages that might be awarded in a toxic mold case.
A mold infestation can cause more than property damage, especially if any of the people who were exposed to the mold are a part of the group that is considered high risk: elderly, small children, infants, and people with a compromised immune systems. However, the intensity of the illness associated with a mold contamination also helps to decide the amount of damages awarded in a personal-injury lawsuit. Liability in such cases hinges on one question: who is responsible for the mold?
Liability lies with anyone who happens to be connected to the building, or more specifically, the section which is contaminated. An architect who designs a faulty ventilation system can be held liable, especially if the spores are found to be transmitted through that system. The builder who used wet or damp materials or who allowed the materials to remain wet or damp can become a defendant alongside the supplier who provided those materials. Even the insurance company is open to liability if they are warned of a mold problem, yet fail to act or delay action.
Often, deciding direct liability is difficult, if not impossible. The contractor may have built the house, but used the blueprints designed by an architect. The supplier made and shipped the sheet rock, but the contractor may have let it sit outside or in a dank, humid storage room. The same materials may have also gotten wet and developed the beginnings of a colony while in transit—sitting in the back of a trailer in humid weather, for example. In these cases, other factors are used to determine just who is responsible for the mold infestation on the property. These factors may include fraud, breach of contract, and the failure to disclose issues. Although the mold case isn't the actual cause of action, it is a central issue to these cases.
Some common theories of toxic mold cases are negligence, breach of warranty, and failure to disclose. Negligence is the most common of the theories.
Negligence is described as the failure of a managing party to work in the best interest of care that another responsible party would use in the same circumstances.
Breach of warranty is described as a statute put into order by each state that requires the builders and architects to place warranties on their work for a specific period of time. If a consumer experiences a mold infestation due to faulty labor, they may have their warranty claim.
Many states require previous owners to disclose superficial facts that affect the value or appeal of the property that they are selling. If the previous owner was aware of a potential mold problem and did not inform the potential buyer, there is a failure to disclose. This is grounds to lay a "failure to disclose" claim.
Cases in which mold is the cause of action may include worker's compensation and professional malpractice cases brought against a contractor or another party whose negligent work contributed to the mold infestation. In some states, strict liability lies with property owners who fail to rid their properties of mold, no matter what the surrounding circumstances are.
Being responsible for mold infestation and being liable for the resulting damages are often two separate things. Consult a personal injury attorney who specializes in mold cases to know where liability stands. You may want to contact the American Bar Association at their website.