Understanding Mold and Mold Lawsuits

When building interiors get damp and stay damp, mold problems often emerge that can cause a variety of health problems which can range from being mildly annoying to something very serious. If you believe you have been exposed to harmful mold and are considering a mold lawsuit, there are some basic things you should know before contacting a mold litigation attorney.

What is mold and how common is it?

Mold is a type of fungus that consists of small organisms that can be found almost everywhere. While mold needs water, oxygen, and warmth to grow, it does not need light. Materials such as drywall, insulation, carpet, paper, cardboard, and wood not only support mold growth but actually provide nutrients for it to live. Attics and basements are often perfect environments for mold to begin growing and spreading to other parts of a building. Large mold problems can typically be seen or smelled but can also be hidden behind walls and ceilings.

There is no practical way to eliminate all mold in an indoor environment, however, known instances of mold can usually be remediated. Depending on the size and seriousness of a mold problem, it may be necessary to hire a professional mold remediation contractor to properly treat and resolve the issue. Mold remediation can be expensive for building owners but handling the problem sooner rather than later can help prevent harm caused to people and property.

The health implications of indoor mold

To reproduce, mold releases microscopic spores that can travel through the air. Mold spores are always present in the air we breathe but exposure to certain mold contaminants can cause health problems for some people. People who are at the most risk for adverse mold effects are infants and children, older adults, people with allergies or asthma, and people with weakened immune systems.1 If you are allergic to mold, your immune system will treat specific mold spores as an allergen causing symptoms such as sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, and nasal congestion.2 There are hundreds of types of molds but not all of them are considered harmful. According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, the most common allergy-causing molds are Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, and Penicillium.3

We hear a lot about “black mold” today but the truth is there is no single type of mold is called black mold. Many types of mold are black in color, including Stachybotrys chartarum, which people tend to exclusively associate with black mold. No scientific evidence suggests that exposure to S. chartarum is more dangerous than exposure to any other type of mold.4 The important point here is that it doesn’t matter what type of mold you or your family have been exposed to but what mold-related health conditions have arisen due to the exposure. These can include allergy-like symptoms mentioned above or more serious, long-term effects like memory loss, insomnia, trouble concentrating, confusion, and mold poisoning (mycotoxiocosis).

Determining a legitimate mold health case

Since approximately 2005, a broad international consensus has been reached that mold and dampness in buildings significantly increases disease risk and is a public hazard.5 Even as recent studies continue to document the link between mold and illness, states have different standards or no standards for mold exposure. Currently, there are no federal standards or recommendations for airborne concentrations of mold or mold spores.6 While mold health problems may seem nonstop for some families, medical diagnosis and treatment remain controversial. Claims can easily be challenged by opponents as diagnostic criteria continue to evolve and symptoms may mimic viral or other conditions.

There are several important things you can do if you suspect you or your family member has been exposed to elevated levels of mold:

    • Find a medical doctor or licensed healthcare practitioner who has experience diagnosing and treating mold-related illnesses. It may be necessary to see a  specialist depending on your condition. Always seek prompt medical attention for any emergency.
    • Perform an environmental assessment. Try to determine the source of the mold, whether it is in your home, condo, apartment, or workplace. Take photos if possible. If an attorney accepts your case, they may hire an experienced industrial hygienist or mold investigator who will be able to take air samples and perform cultures on visible mold growth as part of their discovery efforts.
    • If you believe the mold presence poses an immediate danger, leave the premise.
    • Consult with a reputable personal injury lawyer who specializes in mold litigation. They will ask you the right questions to determine the strength of your case and identify which people and companies might be liable for your personal injury claim.
    • Parties responsible for mold infestation could include building owners, condominium associations, prior homeowner, builders or contractors, architects or engineers, construction suppliers, property inspectors, realtors, and employers.
    • If you own the property where the mold is located, determine a safe mold remediation strategy to implement once all of the evidence is collected.

Mold lawsuit settlements

Mold injury cases can be very complex and difficult to prove. They can also bring unwanted publicity to defendants. Because of this, many of them result in settlements rather than jury trials. Settlement amounts around toxic mold claims can vary significantly depending on the seriousness of the injury or illness and other factors. If it is found that the responsible party for the mold injuries acted negligently, or outside of reasonable standards of care, a victim can potentially be awarded substantial damages that may include medical costs and other economic costs such as loss of work and mold remediation efforts.


If you believe you have been injured by mold as the result of negligence, please call the law offices of Joseph T. Joseph, Jr., LLC in Cleveland or Youngstown at 866-522-1402 to schedule a free consultation. We never charge a fee unless we are successful at helping you recover compensation.


1, 4 “Black Mold Exposure: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323419.

2, 3 “Mold Allergy: AAAAI.” The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/allergies/mold-allergy.

5 Pizzorno, ND, Joseph. “Is Mold Toxicity Really a Problem for Our Patients? Part 1 – Respiratory Conditions .” Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal, 15 Apr. 2016, pp. 6–10., www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4898283/.

6 “A Brief Guide to Mold in the Workplace.” Safety and Health Information Bulletins | A Brief Guide to Mold in the Workplace | Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, www.osha.gov/dts/shib/shib101003.html#:~:text=Currently%2C%20there%20are%20no%20federal,of%20mold%20or%20mold%20spores.&text=Most%20typical%20indoor%20air%20exposures,risk%20of%20adverse%20health%20effects.

©2020 Joseph T. Joseph, Jr., LLC

Know Your Bicycle Laws in Ohio

If anything positive has come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that people have taken new interest in the great outdoors as a means to enjoy some fresh air and spend time with others while practicing social distancing. This is especially true of recreational and family biking, where the excitement is evidenced by U.S. cycling industry growth that accelerated by 75% in April of 2020.1 Bike shop owners throughout Ohio have echoed the nationwide trend, with some shops experiencing a 300% increase in bike sales in April and May.2

 

With all of the increased riding going on, it’s important to know the rules of bicycling to get the most enjoyment out of this healthy hobby while staying safe and in line with the law. Keep in mind that a bicycle is defined as a “vehicle” under Ohio Law.3 This means that it must be operated lawfully on all roads except freeways or other roads with limited access.

Below are answers to some commonly asked questions that may be helpful to know before gearing up for your next cycling adventure.

Do you have to wear a helmet in Ohio?

State law does not require helmets to be worn when riding a non-motorized bicycle in Ohio, however, several cities have ordinances that require children younger than 18 years in age to wear one. This is especially true when participating in certain events or when using certain properties.

In Ohio, persons of all ages must wear a helmet when operating or riding as a passenger on a class 3 electric bicycle.

Extensive studies conducted on the effects of bicycle helmets on injuries from 1989 to 2017 and published by the National Library of Medicine showed that their use was found to reduce head injury by 48%, serious head injury by 60%, traumatic brain injury by 53%, face injury by 23%, and the total number of killed or seriously injured cyclists by 34%.4

Do cyclists need to follow the basic rules of the road?

The simple answer is yes. When riding on a road, riders should treat their bicycle as a car. This means riding with traffic (never against it), obeying basic traffic laws, stopping at red lights and stop signs, and following all road signals. It is imperative that cyclists understand the importance of being visible. According to the Ohio Department Safety Data for 2017, about 58% of fatal bicycle crashes in Ohio occur during non-daylight hours.5

Below are some special bike laws that cyclists in Ohio must follow under the Title 45 of the Ohio Revised Code:6 

 

      • When riding on a roadway, cyclists should ride as near to the right side as practicable, unless it is unreasonable or unsafe to do so. Some examples of when it may be unsafe for a cyclist to stay near to the right are when they need to avoid surface hazards, parked cars, or moving vehicles. Vehicles should exercise care when passing bicycles. Ohio Law requires that motorists allow at least three feet of space between the motor vehicle and the bicycle when passing.
        • Cyclists can ride two abreast (side-by-side) in the same lane, except on paths or roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.
        • Because bicycles are slower moving than motor vehicles, Ohio traffic law allows motorists to cross a double yellow line to pass them, but only if the slower vehicle (bicycle) is traveling at less than the posted speed limit.
        • A bicycle should be equipped with reflectors. When riding at night or when visibility is poor, riders must use a white light mounted to the front of the bike and a flashing or steady red light mounted to the rear of the bike.
          • Cyclists should use their left arm and hand to give signals in the following manner:
          • Left turn, hand and arm extended horizontally;
          • Right turn, hand and arm extended upward;*
          • Stop or decrease speed, hand and arm extended downward.

*An acceptable, and more easily understood alternative to the right turn, is the extension of the right hand and arm horizontally and to the right side of the bicycle.

        • Non-motorized bicycles are permitted to ride on sidewalks. The Ohio Bicycle Federation (OBF) discourage sidewalk riding (presumably for adults), citing accident studies that show even low-speed sidewalk riding has about double the accident rate as riding on the road. OBF points out that every intersection and driveway is a potential collision site, and that motorists crossing the path do not always look for conflicting traffic on the sidewalk.7
        • No bicycle should be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is equipped.
        • Electric bicycles are classified as class 1, class 2, or class 3 depending on the speed the bike is capable of reaching and the motor wattage. As of January 1, 2020, manufacturers and distributors of electric bikes shall permanently affix a label indicating the bike’s class. No person shall modify the bike in a way that changes its top assisted speed without also modifying the label.

Can you get a DUI on a bicycle in Ohio?

Ohio’s drunk driving statute prohibits operating a vehicle anywhere in the state but exceptions are made for non-motorized bicycles. This exception means that if you are riding impaired in your backyard you won’t get charged but if you are riding impaired on your street you can be charged with a DUI. Our advice? Just stick to bottled water or an energy drink when riding.

Additional resources

The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) published a Cycling Smarter Guide that contains excerpts on bicycle laws as well as practical advice and illustrations that give cyclists an understanding of how to safely and legally ride on public roads. Click here to view or download the comprehensive guide.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has an excellent website page dedicated to bicycle safety. It includes safety tips for parents and kids, facts about bicycle safety, and helmet fitting instructions. Click here to visit NHTSA’s Bicycle Safety resource site.

If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, please call the law offices of Joseph T. Joseph, Jr., LLC in Cleveland or Youngstown at 216-522-1600 to schedule a free consultation. We never charge a fee unless we are successful at helping you recover compensation.


1 “Cycling Industry Sales Growth Accelerates in April, Up 75%, Generating an Unprecedented $1 Billion for the Month.” The NPD Group, 16 June 2020, www.npd.com/wps/portal/npd/us/news/press-releases/2020/cycling-industry-sales-growth-accelerates-in-april/.

2 DiPaolo, Andrew. “Valley Bicycle Shops See a Surge in Sales.” WFMJ.com, 19 Mar. 2020, www.wfmj.com/story/42148720/valley-bicycle-shops-see-a-surge-in-sales.

3 Magas, Steve. “The Law of Riding a Bicycle in Ohio.” Ohiobar.org, Ohio State Bar Association, 13 Aug. 2020, www.ohiobar.org/public-resources/commonly-asked-law-questions-results/industry-specialties/the-law-of-riding-a-bicycle-in-ohio/.

4 Høye, Alena. “Bicycle Helmets – To Wear or Not to Wear? A Meta-Analyses of the Effects of Bicycle Helmets on Injuries.” Accident Analysis & Prevention, vol. 117, 17 Apr. 2018, pp. 85–97., doi:10.1016/j.aap.2018.03.026.

5, 7 “Digest of Ohio Bicycle Traffic Laws.” Ohio Bicycle Federation, Ohio Bicycle Federation, www.ohiobike.org/index.php/digest-of-ohio-bike-laws.

6 “Chapter 4511: TRAFFIC LAWS – OPERATION OF MOTOR VEHICLES.” LAWriter – ORC, LAWriter® Ohio Laws and Rules, codes.ohio.gov/orc/4511.

©2020 Joseph T. Joseph, Jr., LLC