Can Business Owners Be Sued for Mold Growth?
Because mold can damage buildings and personal property, mold insurance claims and lawsuits are sometimes filed against building owners, contractors, and other types of businesses because of mold damage. This guide provides an overview of what you need to know about mold growth lawsuits.
What Is Mold?
Molds are a type of naturally occurring fungi found in most indoor and outdoor environments. The thousands of different species reproduce by creating spores that travel to different locations through the air. Mold needs oxygen and moisture to grow and is often found in damp environments:
- Wet foundations
- Areas with leaking pipes
- Surfaces with condensation
- Buildings with poor ventilation
- Spaces with poor air circulation
When Can Businesses Be Liable for Damages?
Businesses are sometimes liable for mold-related damages suffered by customers, tenants, employees, or others. Some types of businesses are more likely to experience a mold claim than others. Examples include property managers, landlords, architects, contractors, and structural engineers.
When Can Landlords or Property Managers Be Sued for Mold Damages?
Most states require residential landlords to maintain the rental property in habitable condition. If a landlord or property manager fails to take proper mold remediation steps, such as contacting a mold remediation company in Emporia, VA, to remove mold growth, and a tenant's property is damaged because of a mold infestation, the landlord may be liable for damages. The landlord may also be liable for expenses incurred by a tenant who must move out of a rental that is not safe to live in because of mold. Commercial landlords are generally not held to as high a standard but may be subject to mold insurance claims if their negligence causes the building to become unfit for its intended use.
When Can Contractors Be Sued for Mold Damages?
Because water damage can lead to mold growth, contractors may be sued if defects in their work cause water leaks or other problems that contribute to mold infestations. Claims against contractors usually result from allegations that the contractor used the wrong types of materials, installed materials incorrectly, or caused damage during the construction process that led to the mold problem.
When Can Architects and Structural Engineers Be Sued for Mold Damages?
Structural engineers and architects may be liable for damages when the design of a building or its systems results in excessive moisture that contributes to mold growth. Claims may arise if the mold growth causes damage to the claimant's property.
How Can Business Owners Avoid Mold Lawsuits?
Taking steps to prevent mold from growing is the most important strategy for avoiding lawsuits. Building owners should regularly check buildings for sources of moisture, such as condensation, leaks, poor drainage, and faulty window seals. Ventilation and HVAC systems should also be regularly inspected. When problems are found, take immediate action to dry out wet properties and fix the source of the excess moisture.
Mold insurance claims and lawsuits can result when business owners fail to take appropriate steps to prevent mold infestations. Some commercial insurance policies specifically exclude coverage for mold damage, so it may be a good idea to speak with your insurance professional to ensure you are protected.