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Distracted driving causes as many as a third of all traffic accidents. The rapid rise in communications technology is associated with an increase in the problem. The dangers of texting at the wheel and other forms of inattentive driving are highlighted every year during Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April.

Each day about 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured in crashes reported to involve distracted driving, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Distracted driving is defined as taking part in another activity that takes your attention away from the road ahead. Distracted driving can increase the chance of a motor vehicle crash.

There are many different types of distracted driving. They can all be extremely serious for the occupants of vehicles and other drivers on the road. CDC highlights for main types, namely:

  • Visual: taking your eyes off the road ahead
  • Manual: taking your hands off the steering wheel
  • Cognitive: taking your mind off the road

 

If you or a loved one has been hurt in a crash involving a distracted driver, please talk to our team of Virginia car accident lawyers.

How Serious Is Distracted Driving in Virginia?

According to Virginia Traffic Crash Facts, police dealt with 843 deaths in Virginia in 2017. Distracted drivers caused almost a quarter of all fatal wrecks in the Commonwealth.

The death figure tells only half of the story. Virginia Department of Transportation states another 14,656 people were injured in distracted driving crashes in Virginia in 2017. The figure represents a 3.4 percent fall over 2016.

Although distracted driving has been a problem since the arrival of the motor car, new technology has made it more prevalent.

Is Distracted Driving Illegal in Virginia?

Some forms of distracted driving are illegal in Virginia. For instance, § 46.2-1078.1 bans texting or manually entering digits on a handheld device.

An attempt to enact a more sweeping “hands-free” driving bill died in the Virginia General Assembly in February 2019, even though lawmakers in both the House of Delegates and Virginia State Senate backed the bill. It would have outlawed all use of a hands-free phone including making calls and talking.

Drivers who violated the law would have received a ticket for $125 for a first offense and $250 for a second offense.

The last-minute failure of the bill followed a conference report that added the phrases “in his hand” and “while physically manipulating the device to view, read, or enter data” to the legislation, according to media reports.

Lawmakers said the changes altered the measure too fundamentally and it was no longer a “hands-free bill.”

Although legislation targets smartphones and other electronic devices, motorists are involved in other types of distracted driving.

Common Types of Distracted Driving

1. GPS

Most of us now use GPS (Global Positioning System) to navigate. It’s a major form of distracted driving. GPS replaced maps, which were often another source of distracted driving.

Setting up a GPS route while you are moving is just as dangerous as texting at the wheel. Many drivers rely too much on their GPS for directions. They may stare at the map or be distracted by verbal directions. If you intend to use GPS, make sure it is mounted where you can easily see it on your car’s dashboard. Turn up the volume anyway so as you can listen to the directions instead of having to look at the screen.

2. Smartphones

Smartphones and cellphones are a major cause of distracted driving, especially among teens. According to a poll by AAA, 94 percent of teen drivers acknowledge the dangers of texting at the wheel, but 35 percent admitted to doing it anyway. More than one-in-five teen drivers involved in fatal accidents was distracted by their device.

The U.S. Department of Transportation says drivers take their eyes off the road for about 5 seconds if they send a text while driving. At 55 mph, that’s the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.

Smartphone distractions go beyond texting. People check emails, social media, watch videos, and check other apps on their phone while driving. There have even been cases of drivers who crashed while using their phone to shoot videos.

3. Eating

Eating and drinking at the wheel is a form of distraction that predates cellular devices. This can be a serious form of inattentive driving, particularly when the driver tries to unwrap food. Hot drinks can spill, causing motorists to veer off the road. Always pull over to eat or drink if possible. Get a passenger to help you with food.

4. Children and pets in cars

Kids may be a major distraction in cars. Younger kids often scream for attention, diverting the driver from his or her task. Bad behavior and roughhousing that can cause a driver to turn around is particularly problematic. Even watching kids instead of traffic in the rearview window can divert attention away from the road, making a crash more likely.

It’s always tempting for drivers who are also parents to be pulled into a conversation with kids and to stop concentrating. Ideally, designate another adult passenger to deal with children.

Ensure all children are properly restrained. The same applies to pets. Dogs, the most likely pet to be traveling in a car, should remain in the back, ideally with a barrier, and not be allowed to roam freely in a moving car.

5. Being Lost in Your Thoughts

Being lost in thought or daydreaming may be one of the biggest causes of distracted driving. A study by Erie Insurance suggested this caused a staggering 61 percent of fatal distracted driving wrecks.

It’s not easy to quantify being lost in thought in the same way as texting before a crash. However, a failure to concentrate on the road ahead is a significant cause of distracted driving.

Call a Virginia Injury Lawyer over Distracted Driving Crashes

Please put down your phone or your hamburger during Distracted Driving Awareness Month and for the rest of the year. If you or a family member was hit by a distracted driver, call our Virginia trial lawyers today at (757) 244-7000.

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If you or a relative had a severe reaction to military housing mold, it might be time to talk with a toxic mold lawyer. Mold is everywhere, and can be dangerous. Researchers have linked mold to serious respiratory illnesses in some individuals.

Smith Law Center may be able to help if a property owner failed to keep you safe from mold in your military housing. We are one of Virginia’s oldest and most successful firms. We know how to hold negligent property owners responsible, especially when the military is involved.

Call us at (757) 244-700 or contact us online to set up a free consultation. There’s no fee for learning more about Virginia mold laws, your rights, and your legal options.

Mold in Military Housing

Black mold in military housing became widely known when Reuters published an investigation in 2018. Since then, the Department of Defense and the housing providers were supposed to take steps to improve the situation.

Unfortunately, a 2020 audit by the DoD Office of Inspector General found many issues, including the need for mold remediation, still persist.

Monetary Awards in Military Housing Toxic Mold Cases

If the property owner lets toxic mold run wild and continue to cause you harm, talk with our toxic mold attorneys about filing a lawsuit.

You may receive financial compensation for:

Service members and their families do not receive different types of damages than civilians. These are civil lawsuits in traditional courts of law.

Military Housing Mold Toxicity Symptoms

The Institute of Medicine discovered there was evidence connecting exposure to indoor mold with:

  • Upper respiratory tract symptoms;
  • Coughing;
  • Wheezing;
  • Asthma symptoms in individuals with asthma; and
  • Hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals with weak immune systems.

There is also limited evidence that mold causes respiratory illnesses in healthy children or causes people to develop asthma.

Understanding Exposure to Toxic Mold in Military Housing

The topic of toxic mold is complicated. This Is in part because the term “toxic mold” isn’t accurate. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains mold isn’t toxic or poisonous. However, some molds are toxigenic, which means they produce toxins called mycotoxins.

Mold is common in military housing because it’ll grow anywhere there’s moisture. That includes on and inside walls, carpet, upholstery, wallpaper, and heating and air conditioning systems. This is especially pronounced in humid conditions such as those present in Virginia.

Some people have no difficulties around mold, even large infestations in their homes. Other individuals are sensitive to molds, including those that produce mycotoxins. Someone can have a severe reaction when exposed to a large amount of mold indoors.

People may be more likely to experience mold toxicity symptoms if they have:

  • Allergies,
  • An underlying lung disease,
  • Immune suppression,
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder,
  • Asthma, or
  • Another chronic respiratory disease.

Common Types of Military Housing Mold

When you’re trying to learn more from the CDC and other resources, you’ll see the word “fungus” a lot. Mold is a type of fungus, which is something that exists all around us. Fungi are living organisms different from animals, plants, and bacteria. There are over 200,000 types of fungi and over 100,000 types of molds.

If you discovered mold in your military housing, it could be Cladosporium, Penicillium, Stachybotrys chartarum, Aspergillus, or many other types. Stachybotrys is what everyone knows as black mold. Aspergillus is a common indoor fungus, which releases mycotoxins and can cause illness. Your symptoms may resemble common allergy or asthma symptoms.

Who is Liable for Military Housing Mold?

Since 1996, most military housing has come under the management of private companies:

  • Belfour Beatty Communities: Fort Eustis and Fort Story/li>
  • Lincoln Military Housing: Dahlgren, Little Creek, Naval Station Norfolk, Northwest Annex, Oceana, Portsmouth, Quantico, and Yorktown/li>
  • Hunt Military Communities: Fort Lee and Langley AFB

Outside of Virginia, Lendlease and Corvias Military Living are two more housing providers. Together, these five companies formed the Military Housing Association.

Military families living in on-base housing must take their complaints to their private management company — not the military. The company is responsible for providing habitable conditions and making repairs, including mold remediation.

If you’re unsure about your rights, review your state law and local ordinances about mold. In general, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to provide a habitable unit, which means it has to be safe to live in. A unit isn’t safe if it’s causing a tenant health issues due to mold.

The Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act requires landlords to disclose if there’s mold in the written report of the move-in inspection. If a tenant discovers visible mold in the unit, then the Act requires the landlord to remove the mold and relocate the tenant until it’s gone at no additional cost to the tenant.

Unfortunately, many families find their housing providers aren’t receptive to complaints. Attorney Stephen M. Smith has handled many mold lawsuits against military housing providers who fail to abide by their lease terms and the law when it comes to mold remediation and other hazards.

Other Hazards in Military Housing

Many service members and their families deal with uncomfortable, if not hazardous, conditions in privatized military housing, including:

Lead Paint: Lead-based paint can cause headaches, nausea, fatigue, irritability, behavioral problems, learning disabilities, seizures, organ damage, and in extreme cases, death.

Asbestos: Exposure to asbestos harms a person’s lungs, and can lead to lung fibrosis (scarring), lung cancer, and mesothelioma.

Radon: Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. It naturally forms underground, however cracks and gaps in buildings lead to over-exposure indoors.

Poor Water Quality: Dozens of military sites have water with detectable levels of harmful chemicals.

Other issues involve rodent or insect infestations, pesticides, and faulty electrical wiring.

What Happens When a Lot of People Get Sick?

Sometimes mold exposure impacts a single individual or family. However, when the mold spreads throughout military housing, it can impact hundreds or thousands of people.

Occasionally, a large enough group of people are injured to allow for a class action or mass tort lawsuit. A class action lawsuit is one where a class representative acts as the plaintiff on behalf of the group of hurt individuals. Not every victim participates in the lawsuit. There are rules about when a group is big and similar enough to create a class action.

Mass tort lawsuits are different. When there are fewer plaintiffs who have their own set of circumstances, each person files a lawsuit. For efficiency’s sake, one or a couple of law firms may represent most plaintiffs, and the lawsuits are consolidated in a federal court.

Call the Military Housing Mold Lawyers at Smith Law Center for Help Right Away

Mold cases come about in a few ways. You or a loved one may start getting sick, and after weeks or months of struggling to find answers, you finally realize your military housing has a mold infestation. In other cases, you struggle with visible mold and then become ill.

Once you connect the illness with the mold, it’s time to talk with a toxic mold lawyer. Reaching out to an attorney early helps you build a strong compensation claim. We know how to collect evidence, identify who is liable, and craft a successful argument for a settlement or court award.

Attorney Stephen M. Smith has decades of experience handling injury claims and has been internationally recognized for his work. He has litigated cases involving catastrophic injuries and complex legal and scientific issues. In 2019, he was inducted into the Virginia Lawyers Hall of Fame.

You’re in good hands when you come to Smith Law Center for help. Reach out online or call (757) 244-7000 to schedule your 100% free consultation.

Military Housing Mold Lawsuits: FAQs

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Use the simple form below to send a message directly to our lawyers. We will respond within 1 hour or less during business hours.
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