The city has recently introduced a plan to ensure that private landlords do not expose children to lead poisoning. According to a report in the New York Daily News, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal to eradicate lead exposure in New York focuses primarily on private landlords as 97 percent of children exposed to lead paint live in private housing. The plan will include new regulations that require landlords who rent out apartments, and one- and two-family homes to conduct lead paint inspections as well as a promise to crack down on landlords who expose their tenants to excessive levels of lead.
De Blasio said his vision is to get to a day when not a single child in New York City will suffer from lead paint exposure. The mayor’s new pledge comes after the city dropped the ball with issues concerning the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and failed to conduct lead paint inspections as mandated by local and federal authorities. A detailed investigation revealed that the agency may have falsified federal documents about lead paint inspections when, in fact, the inspections weren’t conducted properly.
Lack of Enforcement in the Past
This raises the question of how the city is going to ensure that private landlords conduct inspections for lead paint when it (the city) couldn’t even establish that its own agency was doing them, if that is correct. De Blasio has stated that the city will “do the opposite of what happened with NYCHA.” He stated that eradicating the effects of lead poisoning from New York City would be a top priority for his administration.
The Department of Housing Preservation and Development has never issued a single violation to a landlord for failing to conduct inspections, according to the New York League of Conservation Voters. While the agency has handed out fines to landlords for other violations such as not maintaining proper paperwork, they haven’t gone after a landlord even once for failing to do the mandated lead paint inspections, it is alleged.
While the city does have laws regarding lead inspection, it’s just that they haven’t been enforced it seems. Under Local Law 1, which was passed in 2004, failing to do lead paint inspections is a misdemeanor, which can lead to jail time. This law was drafted with the intention of holding landlords accountable for failing to abate (remove) lead paint hazards. However, the city has not enforced this law fully, which led to a complaint-based system where the city’s Health Department got involved only after a child had been poisoned by lead paint.
New Measures Are Welcomed
Safety advocates welcomed the city’s new plans including random audits of problem buildings and better partnership between city agencies. But, they also want to see more specifics about how the city would actually go about enforcing lead laws. Among other reforms being proposed is lowering the threshold of lead in paint or dust that will trigger remediation and abatement to the lowest-in-the-nation levels. The city will also step up the use of stop-work orders when lead is found in a building and will make sure children are given blood tests right away if lead is present in their home. Also, children who have been exposed to lead will get a “dedicated nurse” to coordinate their treatment.
Understanding Your Rights
Whether you live in privately owned buildings or the Projects, as a tenant, you have the right to a safe and healthy environment. If you live in public or private housing, and your child has been diagnosed with high blood lead levels, then you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the NYCHA (the Projects) or private landlords for damages.
You may be able to seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, cost of diagnostic tests, permanent injuries, lost income and benefits, disabilities, past and future pain and suffering, etc. A knowledgeable New York City lead poisoning lawyer will be able to help you file the lawsuit and compile the evidence that is required to hold the agency accountable for its negligence (carelessness).
If your child has been affected by lead poisoning, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you.
Our firm recovered $1,162,500 for a child who suffered lead poisoning from paint in her apartment. The child’s injuries were subtle and difficult to recognize. We recovered $162,500 above the $1 million dollar total insurance policy in this case. Despite the judge’s efforts to settle the case for $950,000, we fought hard and recovered $162,500 more than the insurance full policy of one million dollars.
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