Lead based paint can often be hazardous to a person’s health. Lead poisoning can result from inhalation or swallowing of small particles of lead-based paint. This can lead to serious medical conditions such as nerve or organ damage.
U.S. laws restrict the use of lead-based paint in various applications, such as in homes and in children’s toys. Legally speaking, U.S. laws define "lead-based paint" as any paint containing either:
- 1 milligram/sq. cm, or
- 0.5% lead by dried weight of the paint
Why Is Lead-Based Paint Dangerous?
Lead-based paint has always been known to be a health hazard because of the dangerous contamination within the paint. It is a major source of lead poisoning in children and can also severely affect adults’ health. In children, lead poisoning may cause severe brain damage and impaired mental functioning. It can also cause retard mental and poor physical. In adults, lead poisoning can cause poor muscle growth, nerve damage, reproductive problems, and high blood pressure, and even death.
Children are the most likely people to be injured by lead paint. This is because many older homes containing lead paint frequently have flaking or disintegrating paint, which then falls to the floor. As young children are prone to putting foreign objects in their mouths, they will frequently take these flakes of lead paint and put those flakes in their mouths.
What Kind of Injuries Occur From Lead-Paint?
As mentioned above, lead paint is incredibly toxic, as it can lead to lead poisoning. Some of the common injuries that derive from lead-based paint are:
- Nervous system damage
- Brain injuries
- Seizures and convulsions
- Mental retardation
- Defective growth of a child
Do Homes Still Contain Lead-Based Paint?
Despite recent U.S. laws regulating the use of lead-based paint in new residential dwellings, older homes can still contain lead-based paint. This is especially true of older homes, such as Victorian-era homes or other types of dwelling units. Also, there may still be danger when it comes to stripping paint and applying new coats, as the process can "disturb" the lead particles that may be lying dormant in the building.
What Is a Seller’s Obligation Regarding Lead Paint in Homes?
As of 1996, home sellers have an obligation to inform potential buyers about any lead-based paint or paint hazards on the property or building. This was covered in the "Lead Based-Paint Disclosure Regulation". Under the regulation, home sellers must:
- Supply buyers with an EPA-issued info pamphlet that helps to identify lead-based paint dangers. The pamphlet is called "Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home."
- Disclose known information regarding existing lead-based paint hazards. If known, the seller must disclose information such the paint’s location as well as the current condition of the painted areas or surfaces.
- Provide a clause or attachment in the home sales contract for a "Lead Warning Statement" confirming that the seller has complied with all lead-based paint notification requirements.
- Allow the home purchaser an inspection period of 10-days in which they can assess risk with regards to lead-based paint.
- Violations or injuries should be reported. Legal action may be filed in order to recover damages for injuries, breach of a home sales contract, and other issues.
What Damages Can I Recover from Lead Paint Contamination Litigation?
If someone has been injured because of ingesting or inhaling lead based paint that came off a landlord’s building, the recoverable damages include such items as:
- Inspection and repair costs
- Medical expenses
- Emotional distress
- Related expenses
How Can I Build a Strong Lead Based Contamination Litigation?
Here are several things you may need to do to develop a successful lead based contamination case:
- Take photographs of the lead based paint that came off the building, put related issues in written notes, and acquire medical records.
- Invite a mold specialist, a city inspector, or other professional to assess the presence of lead based paint chips and document the problem.
- Try negotiating with responsible parties, such as the landlord or the seller of the property, and document your steps in writing.
- If you cannot resolve your issue without filing a lawsuit, consider finding a qualified attorney to file your case as soon as possible.
- The case will often involve a "battle of experts." Hire an expert who can argue that the paint at issue generally causes injuries and that it in fact did cause such injuries in this case.
What Other Parties May be Liable for Lead-Based Paint Contamination?
In addition to landlords/property sellers, other parties may be liable for the lead paint contamination, including:
- Suppliers and makers of building materials infested with lead based paint
- Contractors whose defective work resulted in lead based contamination or lead chips falling
- Insurance policies for a violation of the "covenant of good faith and fair dealing"
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Lead-Based Paint Lawsuits?
Disputes of violations involving lead-based paint laws may require a lawsuit. It is in your best interests to hire a real estate lawyer if you need help with any legal regulations or real estate matters. Your attorney can provide you with assistance on the matters and can help you file a lawsuit if needed. Also, your lawyer can give you legal advice if you have any specific questions regarding a home sale.