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Hi-tech companies and government agencies have touted self-driving cars over the last five years. However, automated driving systems remain controversial after a series of crashes.

Although the technology exists for automated cars to appear on the roads tomorrow, numerous legal questions remain about liability when things go wrong.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) “fully automated cars and trucks that drive us” will become a reality in the near future.

For some people, that prediction is alarming. Although there is plenty of data showing that human drivers cause most accidents, many people are wary about losing control over their cars.

The NHTSA points out many cars are already equipped with automated driving systems. They have technology that helps prevent drivers from drifting into adjacent lanes or making unsafe lane changes. Some cars have sensors that warn drivers other vehicles are behind them when they are backing up. Some cars now have systems that allow the brakes to be applied automatically if a vehicle ahead of them stops or slows down suddenly.

Automated driving systems of this nature appear to have made cars safer. However, there’s a major difference between automatic components like braking systems with a human driver and cars that take over control.

Concerns Increase over Automated Driving Systems After Wrecks

It may be some time before we see self-driving cars on the highways of Virginia. However, the federal government is requesting states to review regulations that hinder the development of self-driving technology.

Self-driving cars are not so rare in states like California and Arizona where pilot projects are taking place.

However, these states have also seen serious crashes of autonomous cars. Tesla was recently hit by a lawsuit claiming its Autopilot system failed, leading to a crash with injuries.

Heather Lommatzsch sued Tesla in a Utah state court claiming the carmaker was negligent over a crash last year.

Lommatzsch’s Tesla Model S hit a fire truck while in Autopilot mode. The driver, who was looking at her phone because she thought the car was driving itself safely, suffered from a broken foot. Teslas also hit fire trucks in California when on the self-driving Autopilot mode.

Self-Driving Cars are Involved in Accidents

In 2018, an Uber self-driving taxi struck and killed pedestrian Elaine Herzberg in Tempe, Arizona. There was a human driver in the autonomous car, but the car was carrying no passengers.

Even before the fatal self-driving car accident in Tempe, Arizona, many Americans were concerned about the technology.

A study carried out in 2017 by the Pew Research Center found more than half of adults surveyed were somewhat or very worried about the idea of driverless vehicles. About 40 percent of respondents were optimistic about the technology. The research was carried out before a spate of accidents in self-driving cars.

The first death associated with a self-driving car was reported in 2016. Joshua Brown’s Model S Tesla was traveling in autopilot mode on the highway in Florida when it slammed into a tractor-trailer.

The Tesla’s car’s sensors failed to recognize a white truck and trailer crossing the highway against the bright background of the sky. The Model S drove at high speed under the trailer, killing Brown.

While self-driving cars and accidents in automated cars make headlines, cars are increasingly incorporating automated features like emergency braking.

Automated Emergency Braking Systems on Cars

Since the early 2000s, certain car manufacturers have fitted automated emergency braking systems (AEB) on selected models.

In 2016, big automakers that control 99 percent of the U.S. market agreed to make AEB a standard feature across almost all models of cars by 2022, reported Consumer Reports.

As automatic braking systems become standard on cars, we are likely to see a rise in technical and mechanical issues that result in crashes. Testing of these systems by a team from Car and Driver uncovered widely different results.

A recent review of complaints about AEB systems filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) uncovered numerous problems. Consumers cited many issues across vehicle makes and models.

The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas received about a dozen complaints. Drivers warned of sudden and unexpected braking. Drivers said their safety was on the line, especially when their brakes applied unexpectedly when they were attempting to cross several lanes of traffic.

In March 2019, the Center for Auto Safety requested an investigation by NHTSA over a problem with automatic brakes on Nissan Rogues. Almost 90 instances of unwarranted braking were reported on SUV models with automatic braking systems.

Who to Sue When Automated Driving Systems Fail

Over the last decade, many of the big car manufacturers announced massive recalls after defects caused injuries and deaths. Sudden acceleration, vulnerable gas tanks, and exploding airbags caused fatalities across the country. Increased automation is likely to mean more lawsuits against carmakers. If you or a family member has been hurt by a defective car, please call our Virginia injury lawyers 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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