What is my legal recourse if a faulty air duct cleaning left my home in layers of dust and dirt because it was not properly performed?

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What is my legal recourse if a faulty air duct cleaning left my home in layers of dust and dirt because it was not properly performed?

2 employees from a large, well known company provided an air duct cleaning service in my home. None of the vents they were cleaning were covered and dust that has been in this house since it was built (1950’s) has gotten into every crevice in my home, including my infant’s bedroom. In some places the layers of dust were black and 5 inches thick. The company has already returned our $250 check but I feel like more needs to be done. My whole family may become ill from this error made by the company. What am I legally entitled to ask for? What actions can be taken against the company?

Asked on September 24, 2011 under Business Law, Illinois

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You can sue the company for negligence.  Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that in this case a reasonable air duct cleaning company would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm). 

 In order to prove negligence, you will have to prove duty (of due care mentioned above), breach of duty (failure to exercise due care by the dust blown throughout your house), actual cause, proximate cause, and damages.  Actual cause means but for the air duct cleaning service, would the dust have been blown throughout your home?  If the answer is no, which appears to be the case, actual cause has been established.  Proximate cause means were there any unforeseeable, intervening events which would relieve the company of liability?  If the answer is no, proximate cause has been established.  Damages means the amount of compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit for negligence).  Your damages would include the cost of repairs to your house.  You will need to mitigate (minimize) damages which means that another company you hire to make the repairs to your home should be charging fees comparable to other companies providing the same service in the area.  If you were to select the most expensive company you could find, your damages would be reduced accordingly.  If members of your family become ill from inhaling the dust, you should obtain their medical bills, medical reports and documentation of wage loss when they complete their medical treatment.  Compensation for medical bills is straight reimbursement.  Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.  The medical reports will document the nature and extent of their injuries and will be used to determine compensation for pain and suffering.  Compensation for pain and suffering is an amount in addition to the medical bills.  These items should be included in  the amount of damages you are seeking in your lawsuit for negligence against the company.  You will need to file your lawsuit prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.  If no one becomes ill due to the dust exposure, then you would not have any claim for medical bills, pain and suffering, wage loss.  Your damages would just be the cost of repairs to your home.


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