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When dirt is dangerous: Toxic mold injuries in New York

Many New Yorkers go apartment-hunting in the spring. It’s also a time when people move into the city from out of state for work reasons, so they arrive ahead of their families to find suitable housing. In either case, they should watch for symptoms of unreported mold contamination.

In 2016, a group called the Red Hook Initiative published a survey revealing that the area’s public housing complex continued to be affected by toxic mold four years after being ravaged by Hurricane Sandy. After 40% of respondents confirmed to having mold in their units and 94% complained of mold and leaks in the past, the survey creators referred to the situation as a “public health crisis.”

Mold is more than just an unsightly mass on the walls: it can make your home uninhabitable and cause your family to develop serious illnesses when they breathe in the airborne mold spores. Due to their microscopic size, these spores can penetrate your lungs and even have a harmful effect on your stomach and intestines.

Everyone reacts differently to mold exposure, but the most common immediate effects are headaches, nausea, skin irritation, and allergies. If the problem is not treated and a person is exposed to mold on a daily basis, then their symptoms can get worse and serious medical conditions can develop. Health complications caused by overexposure to toxic mold levels include:

  • Dermatitis
  • Mycosis
  • Lung fibrosis
  • Asthma
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Emphysema
  • Lung cancer
  • Intestinal cancer

New York City landlords are required to maintain their buildings in accordance with the Indoor Air Quality Standard established by the Department of Health. If your home does not comply with city and state regulations regarding mold, then you may have grounds to sue the landlord for damages, especially if any of the following conditions apply to your situation.

  • You kept your home clean and well-ventilated, but mold still developed.
  • You reported a leak to your landlord but they failed to fix it, allowing the mold situation to become serious.
  • Your landlord did not take reasonable and adequate measures to prevent mold from forming.
  • The mold caused you or someone else in your household to become sick or experience an aggravation of an existing health condition.

Many landlords attempt to dodge liability for mold-related illness by making you sign a lease containing a clause that absolves them of all responsibility for injuries attributable to mold contamination. Many New York courts, however, do not enforce such clauses because they are at odds with applicable health regulations.

If you or a member of your family has become dangerously ill as a result of exposure to dangerous levels of mold, then contact a New York personal injury attorney. There is no excuse for your landlord to let your home become uninhabitable, and you may be able to sue them for current and future medical treatment, lost income, and other losses arising from their negligence.  If you have been affected by mold, call 718-329-9500. Jayson Lutzky is an experienced personal injury and accident lawyer who offers free in-person initial consultations. Visit www.MyNewYorkCityLawyer.com/Accidents to learn more.

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