Are you a tenant living in a mold-infested rental unit?
If you are a tenant and you wish to make a personal injury claim against your landlord due to mold in your rental unit, you will need to obtain sufficient evidence as follows:
- A mold TEST;
- A DIAGNOSIS of a malady related to mold exposure; and
- A CONNECTION made by a doctor willing to testify that the diagnosed malady is more-likely-than-not caused by the mold in your home.
THE MOLD TEST
The first piece of evidence you need for a successful personal injury claim based on mold exposure is a mold test. The Test must be done by a mold testing professional. The Test must consist of taking samples from inside your home and a control sample from outside your home. The Test will check for mold counts for numerous kinds of mold including but not limited to penicillium/aspergillus, cladosporium, and stachybotrys. The mold count results from inside your home must be considerably higher than those outside your home for you to make a successful personal injury claim based on mold exposure.
A professional mold testing company must conduct the Test because they could testify that the standards they used in conducting the Test assure an accurate mold test. An at-home mold test bought at the Home Depot, or anywhere else, will not hold up to scrutiny because the layman who collects the mold samples cannot state under oath they collected the samples in a scientifically valid way to avoid things like cross-contamination.
Several firms in the Portland area conduct these mold tests, including:
- Mold Testing Services of Oregon, LLC
- Real Estate Mold Solutions
- Mold Inspection Sciences of Portland
Unfortunately, the above mold testing firms, and any other mold testing firm, will charge you for this service. These charges vary but they are usually over $300.00.
If your Test shows inside mold counts as far higher than outside mold count, you can move on to obtaining the Diagnosis and the Connection.
The second thing you need to make a successful personal injury claim based on mold exposure is to have a doctor diagnose you with a malady that is more-than-likely the result of exposure to mold. This malady may be the worsening of a pre-existing condition – such as greatly worsened allergies – or it may be a wholly new condition/illness such as pulmonary hemosiderosis (bleeding in the lungs).
Often, the Diagnosis will come before the Test. If you feel that a malady you are suffering from may result from being exposed to mold in your home, do ask your doctor if your diagnosed malady could be caused by mold.
By far the most difficult of the three pieces of evidence you need to make a successful personal injury claim based on mold exposure is the Connection.
If your Test shows significantly higher mold counts in your home than outside it, you will need to take the Test results to a doctor and the doctor must review the Test. Then the doctor must conclude that more-likely-than-not the mold-related malady you have been diagnosed with has been caused by exposure to the mold in your home. And then the doctor must put this conclusion in writing and they must be willing to testify to this in court.
In our experience as attorneys who specialize in personal injury cases and landlord/tenant law cases, few doctors willing to put a connection between a tenant’s symptoms and the mold testing in writing. Finding a doctor willing to testify is the most difficult evidence to obtain of the three pieces of evidence you must have.
Having said all that, you may have a diminution of rent claim based on high mold counts in your home. But that is a claim you may only get economic damages from, which may be difficult to prove. To receive non-economic damages, including pain and suffering, you must make a successful personal injury claim.
This same level of evidence would be necessary for you to make a personal injury claim based on dust-mite or other environmental-toxin-exposure in your home.