Mold is a kind of fungus found just about anywhere there’s adequate moisture, lack of airflow, and the ideal temperature. Most mold is harmless, but some molds create certain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) known to cause serious injuries after prolonged exposure, often in a home or workplace. The causes of toxic mold contamination are many, but often can be linked to defective building materials, negligent design or construction, or a failure to warn about a known problem. As such, those who suffer mold-related injuries may consider filing toxic mold claims.
But mold claims can be very complicated to prove, which is why you really want to hire a lawyer for a mold lawsuit. It’s important to know what to look for in a toxic mold attorney before you choose your counsel. The following information will help you do just that.
Hiring a Lawyer for a Mold Lawsuit: Experience Matters
Ideally, you want to hire an attorney who has worked on mold-related claims before; and in fact some attorneys specialize in toxic mold cases. Since these types of lawsuits tend to encompass many different areas of the law, you will want an attorney who is familiar with the following:
Toxic Torts Law
Personal Injury Law
Contract and Construction Defects Law
Water Intrusion Law
Employment Law (if workplace-related)
And while every case is different, certain factors and procedures are generally universal in toxic mold cases. For instance, the plaintiff will have to identify the specific strain of mold that allegedly caused the injury and establish a causal link to the defendant’s acts (or failure to act). An attorney experienced in mold litigation will be able to identify tell-tale patterns and will know what to expect and how to protect your interests.
Hiring the Right Toxic Mold Lawyer for You
Even the brightest, most-experienced toxic mold attorney may not be the right fit for you. You will want someone with whom you feel comfortable, who has a solid track record (ask for references to past clients), and whose fee arrangement fits with your financial situation. It’s also important to have an attorney who will keep you apprised of what’s going on and generally maintain open lines of communication.
Below are ten questions to ask your potential lawyer.
- How long have you practiced law? At a minimum, you’ll want to know about the lawyer’s expertise and whether the lawyer is a veteran or beginner attorney, for instance. Your legal issue may very well be handled by someone who is fresh out of law school, (or not). It all depends.
- What type of cases do you generally handle? What percentage of your practice is devoted to (the practice area in question)?You’ll also want to know about a lawyer’s expertise and how much of the attorney’s practice is devoted to topic area your legal issue falls within. For example, if you need help with an adoption case, you may wish to seek a family law lawyer who has worked on, well, adoption cases. Click here for a full list of practice area definitions.
- Who is your typical client? This is an important, but often-overlooked question. For example, if you are an individual with a particular legal problem, but the attorney your meeting with represents only corporations, this may not be the best lawyer for you. Likewise, you may wish to know the financial background of some of the lawyer’s clients. This is because there may be different issues a lawyer is used to factoring when working with high net-worth individuals vs. college students.
- How many cases have you represented that were similar to mine? Now is not the time to act shy. Feel free to ask about the attorney’s track record, such as the number of cases won or settled, for example.
- Other than a law degree, what kind of special training or knowledge do you have that might apply in my situation? Some cases, like DUI and patent cases, require specialized training and knowledge for effective representation. Be sure to inquire whether your case fits into that category.
- What are your attorney fees and costs, and how are they billed? Will a portion or all of my case be handled by paralegals or legal assistants? If so, ask about reduced costs. This step is obviously an important one. You’ll want to know whether you can afford the lawyer’s services and how you will be required to pay. This is also the time to ask about payment options and how often, and under what circumstances, you will be billed.
- What is your approach or philosophy to winning or representing a case? This can be important in two ways. First, if you are seeking an amicable divorce, for example, but the attorney is known to “go for the kill” in divorce cases, the attorney may not be the right one for you. Similarly, if you’re looking for an aggressive attorney to handle an upcoming corporate merger, for example, you’ll want someone who isn’t afraid to push the envelope, so to speak.
- Are there others ways for solving my legal problem? Go ahead. Ask the professional whether there are any alternatives for solving your legal problem, such as through arbitration or some other out-of-court arrangement. A good attorney will generally inform you if your case can be handled through other less expensive and time consuming means.
- How will you let me know what’s happening with my case? Communication is key when working with a lawyer. Ask the lawyer how often and under what circumstances you will hear from him or her. You’ll want to know how your case is coming along and about other important dates.
- What is the likely outcome in my case? Generally speaking, it is fair game to ask the attorney whether you have a good chance of winning your case. You are not looking for the “right” answer, just an honest one. For instance, if you’re facing an uphill battle in, let’s say, a nasty divorce situation, you’ll want to know up front from the attorney so you can prepare yourself for what lies ahead.
In order to be successful, your attorney will need detailed information about your injuries, the mold contamination in your home (or other structure), and anything that can help your attorney connect the dots. For instance, if you discover the existence of toxic mold in a home you just purchased from a previous owner, can you produce documents to prove that mold wasn’t included in the inspection report or disclosures of known problems?
After you hire a lawyer for a mold lawsuit, they will want as much relevant documentation as you can provide. This will include detailed notes and photographs about the mold, its growth patterns, and where it has been discovered; plus records of any actions that were taken to repair or clean up the affected areas. You also will want to save receipts for anything that had to be replaced, such as furniture, bedding, and carpeting; and records/receipts of any inspections related to the mold.
With respect to your injuries, you will want to maintain detailed medical records and receipts for payment of medical services, prescription medications, and anything else purchased to alleviate your symptoms.
Hire the Right Lawyer for a Mold Lawsuit
Hiring an attorney can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Just make sure you look in the right place, ask the right questions, and choose someone you feel good about. If you or a loved one have suffered injuries as the result of a toxic mold contamination, consider talking with a toxic mold attorney right away and learn about your legal options.