Due to its humid climate, Florida may be more likely to be affected by mold than other places. If you suspect you’ve been exposed to and sickened by toxic mold through no fault of your own, you may be entitled to compensation. If the fault lies with an employer or a landlord avoiding the issue, you may have grounds for a lawsuit. How much could you stand to receive? That all depends on the circumstances of your case. At Calandro Law, we’ve seen our fair share of toxic mold claims and can advise you on what to do next if you’ve been chronically exposed to toxic mold. Contact us for a free consultation!
Recent years have seen a massive increase in mold litigation resulting in several multimillion dollar jury verdicts. Although large verdicts for plaintiffs are well publicized, defense verdicts in mold suits are seldom, if ever, mentioned in the media. There were almost no mold claims prior to 2000 and claim amounts were relatively low. Usually $5,000 or less. High-profile jury verdicts resulting in seven or even eight figure sums have led to an explosion in mold litigations in the years since. According to medical opinion on mold-related disease, mold claim payouts in 2001 and 2002 totaled $1.3 billion, and in 2002, over $3 billion was paid. While there is no exact average
In this article we discuss what qualifies as toxic mold, proving liability, and damages that could be recovered due to toxic mold exposure.
What is Toxic Mold?
Mold develops in environments where there is an excess of moisture. The mold growth can be caused by water leaks in the roof of a home or building, a flood, a pipe leak, or any other source through which water can enter. Cleaning mold can be costly and time-consuming, but it is absolutely necessary to protect the health of the people in the affected building. Mold is toxic to the body, causing sickness, nausea, asthma or rashes. A mold problem can occur in many places including the workplace, schools, or homes. Mold usually appears in the following places:
- In air conditioning units;
- Flooded basements;
- Underneath a refrigerator;
- Under a kitchen or bathroom sink;
- Around leaky windows;
- Under a damp rug;
- In a plumbing issue prone area; and/or
- Roofs and ceilings where a leak is present
It is actually misleading to call all mold toxic. Mold is not poisonous, but some types can produce toxins. Two kinds, stachybotrys chartarum and toxigenic aspergillus, are harmful to humans. A mold attorney and mold remediation company often refer to these types of mold as toxic mold. These molds can lead to a range of adverse reactions that are often life-threatening.
“Black mold” is generally Stachybotrys chartarum, which is typically described as a dark green or black color. As it feeds on materials such as drywall and carpet, the mold produces spores, which are discharged into the air. Adverse reactions can include the following symptoms:
- A chronic cough and sneezing;
- Irritation of the eyes;
- Irritation of the nasal and throat mucous membranes
- You may also experience chronic fatigue; or
- Frequent headaches.
Is Toxic Mold Making You Sick?
Below are some of the signs and symptoms of mold exposure. Each person will be affected by mold differently but general symptoms include:
- Irritated sinuses;
- Having breathing difficulties;
- Asthma attacks and bronchitis;
- Legionnaire’s Disease, which is an infection spread by bacteria found in unsanitary and damp places; and/or.
- Vasomotor rhinitis, an allergic nasal condition.
If a person experiences any of the symptoms of mold exposure, they should seek immediate medical attention. Also, all documents or diagnoses related to mold exposure should be saved in case the need for a lawsuit arises.
Liability for a Mold Injury Claim
The liability for an injury sustained from mold exposure can be varied depending on the circumstances since mold can grow just about anywhere with moist, dark conditions. There needs to be proof that the plaintiff’s injury was caused by exposure to mold that might have been prevented if not for the negligence of the other party. This means that an irritation due to a short period of contact with mold will not be considered a valid claim.
People are exposed to mold quite frequently, but in small amounts and of benign species. If someone is exposed to a large infestation of mold on a regular basis in a place they frequent or live, they are at an increased risk of developing a mold-related injury. A person must be able to show clear evidence of negligence such as a property owner’s or maintenance provider’s negligence that resulted in a significant injury.
Damages You Could Recover From A Florida Toxic Mold Lawsuits
It is possible to recover damages against toxic mold. The severity of the mold reaction and the costs associated with medical treatment and repairs will impact the amount of damages. Damages recoverable in most cases are compensatory damages. Compensation is available for losses such as repair costs, medical bills, and compensation for pain and suffering.
The other party has to pay prevailing party’s attorney’s fees in some states. Punitive damages are another type of compensation that may be awarded. If a landlord, insurer, or homebuilder intentionally misled the injured party about the presence of mold, punitive damages may be awarded. Punitive damages are meant to deter similar behavior in the future.
It could be difficult to recover damages for toxic mold issues. Doctors may dispute that a connection exists between health conditions and toxic mold exposure, so it may be hard to prove injury. In most cases, toxic mold issues are not covered by insurance companies. An attorney may be able to assist with ensuring the issue is worked around. A mold attorney can advise how to proceed in cases where causation is tough to prove but the tenant or homeowner may also be blamed for poor housekeeping. In these cases, proving injury and causation can be challenging, but it is needed. Some ways to bolster damage awards are damage to the property, harassment, and constructive eviction.
Mold Lawsuit Settlements in Florida
Settlements provide homeowners and renters with more certainty than a jury verdict, especially considering the difficulty of proving fault. Settlements also help avoid legal expenses and lab testing. The defendants, likewise, usually prefer to avoid the negative media coverage that results from a verdict. Settlement amounts for toxic mold claims vary depending on the kind of injuries sustained, the extent of the property damage, and many other factors. Here are some settlement examples:
- In 2013, a former Florida prosecutor who was sickened by mold exposure at the Broward County Courthouse was awarded a $166,500 settlement against the county (19 current and former county employees are suing the county for mold-related illnesses).
- In May 2002, mold testing at an apartment complex in South Atlanta revealed a mold problem in at least 37 of the 119 rental units. the landlords and manager of the property were faced with suit after suit from families who were forced to evacuate their homes due to the mold.
- In 2017, Baxter International agreed to a $2.1million civil settlement (including a criminal penalty of roughly $16 million) for ignoring an employee’s warning that mold had been found in air filters in a room where sterile iv solutions are fabricated. Mold-related injuries were not reported.
- An order was issued for the payment of $2.2 million in a wrongful death/mold exposure case. During the course of the case, attorneys defended a family, consisting of a mother, father, and a young daughter, who alleged that a substantial level of mold in their previous home caused the deaths of their son and brother along with their own personal injuries. Aspergillus colonization caused the child’s death and Plaintiffs allege it was due to exposure to mold in the family’s apartment.
- In 2005, the parents of Kellen Gorman received a $13 million settlement from Crenshaw Lumber Co., who had failed to properly store lumber in the plaintiff’s home. It is believed that the wooden studs spread toxic mold throughout the Gorman’s home and caused their child to suffer brain damage, resulting in their need for 24-hour care indefinitely
Hiring a Toxic Mold Lawyer in Florida
An attorney specializing in toxic mold claims can assist you with your claim. This a specialized area of expertise within personal injury law. Claims for toxic mold tend to be complex and require substantial expertise in the state of Florida. In addition to breach of contract claims, personal injury claims may also be involved. A toxic mold lawyer can evaluate your case and determine what claims you have, in addition to representing you in court. We can help if you or a family member has been injured by repeated contact with toxic mold. Please call us at Calandro Law about scheduling an initial consultation.
Schedule a free consultation today by calling us at (813) 563-8962 or filling out the form on the right side of the page.