Lead Paint Poisoning: Can You Sue Your Landlord?

If your house was built before 1978, there is a chance that you have traces of lead based paint in your home and in the soil surrounding your home. If you discover that the rented house you have been living in has exposed your children to lead poisoning and its damaging effects, you could have grounds for a lawsuit against your landlord. 

The Problem With Lead

Lead poisoning can affect people of any age, but it is especially damaging for children under age six. Children experience explosive growth during early childhood, and lead has a profound impact on the development of the central nervous system and the brain. They also are more easily exposed to lead, as children are likely to put things in their mouths or fail to wash their hands. Lead poisoning can cause kidney damage, hearing loss, mental retardation, hyperactivity, and poor muscle control.

If your child has some or all of these symptoms, its time to assess their health with a professional, who can diagnose lead poisoning. 

The Burden of Proof

A personal injury case for the poisoning of your child is serious accusation, and so you must show the courts that your landlord is absolutely at fault for the struggles your child is facing. This is sometimes not as easy as it sounds, as your child could have been exposed to lead in many places. Your case will be stronger if:

  • there is a control sibling. If your child has an older sibling who has normal development (and did not spend childhood in a lead-laced environment), you can better argue that genetics are not the issue, the environment is. 
  • you lived in the same place during your child's formative years. If you moved around a lot to many different apartments, especially if those places where just as old, the defense will simply state that the lead problem could have occurred at any of these residences.
  • the child spent most of his time at home, instead of at the home of relative or at daycare. Again, this proves that the difficulties are because of the environment at home or can't be blamed on other factors.
  • there is a high level of lead deposits to be in found in your child's blood, skin, and organs. You may need to get a doctor's statement that your child's health problem are in fact directly caused by lead exposure. 
  • the lead paint in the home is in bad condition. Generally, if paint is not peeling or flaking off, the exposure to lead is minimal. Take pictures of the house's condition to prove that the paint needs repair. Landlords should be aware of these problems. If you prove that the property is in a certain condition, negligence is easier to prove.
  • you hired someone to test the area. You should have a professional come and perform a risk assessment on the property. They will test the paint, look at damage, and even test the soil to see if lead has leeched into the dirt surrounding the home.
  • there are no other factors that could have impeded your child's development. If, for example, someone in the home smokes or if the child suffered from a high fever when young, the defense could argue that not all of your child's troubles come from lead.

All of this evidence should be gathered with the help of your personal injury attorney. If the case still is not strong enough, you can try to search out previous tenants who have lived at the residence before you. If they have children or show signs of toxic exposure themselves, they may be willing to testify on your behalf. This will also put more responsibility onto the landlord, especially if previous tenants complained about the possibility of lead poisoning, but the landlord took no action. 

For more information about your options, contact companies like Daniels Long & Pinsel.