Lead poisoning is a public health hazard that primarily impacts the most vulnerable among us: children and infants. The discovery of lead's dangerous effects led to a ban on the sale of lead paint in 1978; however, lead poisoning persists to this day, since houses and other structures that were built prior to the lead ban remain. A child may suffer exposure to this toxic substance by coming into contact with leaded dust or chipped lead paint and then orally ingesting the substance off of contaminated fingers. Too much exposure can lead to devastating physical and mental consequences.
The experienced New York lead poisoning attorneys at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP, have achieved optimal outcomes for many clients with lead poisoning claims. We possess extensive experience and resources for handling these types of cases. Let us help you and your child get what you need for recovery. For a free and confidential case evaluation, please call us today at (212) 986-7353.
In New York, landlords are required by law to maintain their rental properties in a safe and habitable condition. This includes addressing any lead-based paint hazards in the unit. If a landlord fails to do so and a tenant is poisoned by lead, the landlord can be held liable.
In a lead poisoning case, the tenant may sue the landlord for negligence. To win, the tenant must prove that the landlord knew or should have known about the lead hazard and failed to take steps to address it. The tenant must also show that he or she was poisoned as a result of the landlord's negligence.
If the tenant can prove these things, the landlord may be ordered to pay damages. These can include medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The landlord may also be required to make repairs to the rental unit to remove the lead hazard.
Often, the landlord is the one held liable for lead poisoning, but that may not always be the case. For example, if the lead poisoning was caused by exposure to lead in the water supply, then the water company may be held liable, or if the lead poisoning was caused by exposure from the soil, then the person who owns the property where the exposure occurred may be held liable. One of the things that an experienced attorney will be able to assist you with is determining the liability of your poisoning so that legal compensation can be pursued properly.
There are many jobs that put their employees in direct contact with lead. Some examples of these jobs include, artists, auto repairs, construction workers, lead manufacturers, lead miners, plastic manufactures, and more. Though in most cases the employer is protected from liability, there are other parties that may be legally responsible. Some of these third-party injury lawsuits may include:
Site owners. An owner who is regularly involved in site operations may be held responsible if workers do not have access to proper hand-washing stations, showers, and break rooms. They should also take care to keep changing rooms and eating areas clean to prevent workers from accidentally ingesting lead or carrying lead particles home on their clothing.
General contractors. Site managers are responsible for the health and safety of the employees under their charge. They need to make sure that everyone is using proper safety precautions and that they have the right equipment, like respirators. Additionally, site managers must test the air quality and provide regular blood tests. If any employee has a blood lead level of 40 micrograms per deciliter or higher, they need to be removed from the work site.
Subcontractors. Any employee who is exposed to lead or begins to show any symptoms related to lead poisoning should be seen by a medical professional for blood tests as soon as possible. If the worker is not tested or the examiner does not detect lead poisoning, the company may be held liable.
Products manufactures. A manufacturer could be held liable for defects in their products, which could include anything from respirators and protective clothing to testing kits. By law, manufacturers are required to produce items that meet a certain standard of quality, and if they do not, they can be held responsible. This is why it is so important for manufacturers to test their products thoroughly before releasing them to the public.
Under the Residential Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Program (Section 1018 of Title X), a federal law that was enacted in 1992, landlords leasing rental apartments or homes built prior to 1978 must disclose certain information about lead hazards in the residence before closing the deal. A disclosure form approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should be signed by both the landlord and the tenant and retained by landlords as a part of their records.
Tenants must also be supplied with an EPA- or state-approved pamphlet that informs them of how to protect themselves from lead hazards in their residence.
Landlords who violate these regulations may face penalties of up to $16,000 for each incident. They may also be held liable for any tenant injuries that result from their negligence.
The following properties are exempt from Title X disclosure regulations:
- Lofts and studio apartments
- Vacation rentals lasting only up to 100 days
- Housing for which construction began after January 1, 1978
- Single rooms in residential buildings
- Certified lead-free housing
- Housing built with the disabled in mind (exception is null if any child younger than 6 lives there)
- Retirement housing (exception is null if any child younger than 6 lives there)
To find out whether your house or apartment is exempted from regulations, consult with a lawyer who handles lead poisoning cases.
According to the Toxic Substances Control Act, landlords renovating rental property constructed before 1978 are required to disclose lead hazard information to current tenants within 60 days of the renovation starting date. Any work that disturbs painted surfaces is considered a renovation by the EPA, excepting minor repairs and emergency renovations. If there is lead-based paint found on surfaces or areas being demolished or renovated, tenants may need to leave the property for several days while the work is being done to protect them from airborne lead.
Children age 7 and younger who are exposed to significant levels of lead are at an increased risk of suffering developmental disabilities later in life. Infants are even more vulnerable; they only need to be exposed to low levels of lead in order to be affected.
Child victims of lead poisoning commonly exhibit the following symptoms:
- Behavioral and developmental issues (such as hyperactivity)
- Decreased growth rate
- Issues with cognitive functions and the nervous system
- Hearing problems
- Chronic headaches
Adults are not immune to the effects of lead. They may also suffer adverse consequences due to exposure, including:
- Reproductive issues
- High blood pressure
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Nerve disorders
- Muscle and joint pain
- Decreased memory and concentration capabilities
Even if you experience symptoms of lead poisoning, it can be difficult to tell if you’ve actually been exposed to lead. One of the best ways to determine if your environment is affecting you is to monitor how you feel when you are away. If you feel fine all day at work, or your children are fine at school, but you or your child experiences headaches, problems with concentration, or other issues while at home, there may be something harmful present. Any time you experience negative conditions in your home, take action to determine the cause; it may be lead, carbon monoxide, mold, or some other environmental toxin.
Lead poisoning is an especially serious problem when suffered by a woman during her pregnancy. Pregnant women who are exposed to lead can suffer from a variety of health problems, including high blood pressure, anemia, and damage to the nervous system. And lead poisoning of the fetus is even more serious, potentially causing premature birth, low birth weight, and developmental delays. Exposure to lead can also cause anemia, miscarriage, stillbirth, and fertility problems for the mother moving forward.
Lead poisoning is a serious public health problem for pregnant women and young children. There is no safe level of lead exposure, and even low levels of lead can cause health problems. If you are pregnant, you must talk to your doctor about ways to avoid lead exposure if you suspect that there may be a leak.
If you think you may have been exposed to lead, it is important to see a doctor immediately. There are a variety of tests that can be done to check for lead poisoning, and treatment is available if necessary.
The following steps can be taken to prevent both children and adults from being harmed due to lead poisoning:
Keep children and pregnant women away from old houses (pre-1978) that are undergoing renovation.
- Use barriers to restrict your child's access to lead sources.
- Discard any of your children's toys that contain lead.
- Regularly wet-wipe your floors and window components.
- Keep your child from playing in bare soil.
If you believe you or your child has been exposed to excess amounts of lead, go to your doctor immediately. There are treatments available for lead poisoning; however, especially with children, they are most effective when the poisoning is detected in its early stages.
The top New York personal injury lawyers at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP, are dedicated and committed to each and every case we accept. Our clients receive our full attention and efforts, no matter what. If you want assistance from a legal team that'll support you every step of the way, contact us today at (212) 986-7353.
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