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The waterways of Virginia are hazardous for boaters whether you are in a kayak, on jet skis, or on a large cruise vessel. Over the summer months, boating accidents are often reported off Hampton, Virginia Beach, or in the Chesapeake Bay or the James River. Simple boating safety tips in Virginia can save your life on the water.

Although the number of boating accidents seen in Virginia every year is a fraction of the number of car accidents, wrecks at sea are often extremely serious. The water is a hostile environment and boaters who lack life jackets quickly come to grief.

Virginia typically records about 100 serious boating accidents and year and about a dozen deaths on the water. Many of these are reported in and around Virginia Beach, the state’s largest city and most popular vacation destination.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the leading causes of nautical accidents are the following:

  • Inattentive boaters:
  • A failure to keep a proper lookout;
  • Operator inexperience;
  • Excessive speed on the water;
  • Alcohol use.


Intoxicated boating is the most common cause of boating accidents. Often people fail to apply the same rules to drinking alcohol when piloting a boat as they do behind the wheel of a car.

At the Smith Law Center, we are at the heart of a historic seafaring community. Hampton is one of the oldest cities in America, dating back more than 400 years. Our attorneys are well versed in maritime law and can help when things go wrong on the water. Please call our experienced trial lawyers if you or a family member was hurt in a boating accident.

Tips to Stay Safe on the Water

1. Make sure your boat is properly equipped

When accidents happen on the water, things go wrong quickly. Vessels should have life jackets and other flotation devices available to everyone. First aid kits and emergency supplies are required. Boats that take passengers on the water should have lights, an anchor, emergency flares, and a fire extinguisher. Although life jackets are the most essential piece of safety equipment, we continue to see these regulations flouted. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, almost three-quarters of deaths on the water are caused by drowning. More than 80 percent of the people who drown on the rivers or oceans were not wearing life jackets. Boats for hire and other passenger vessels must be rigorously maintained. Mechanical problems on the water can cause a boat to drift, putting passengers in danger. The Coast Guard attributes faulty equipment and inadequate safety measures to more than 400 accidents a year, about 30 deaths and 150 injuries on the water.

2. Know the rules of navigation

Boaters should have a basic knowledge of waterway navigation, speed limits and which side of a river to travel on. They should be familiar with markers and warnings of shallow waters. In Virginia, all jet ski operators age 14 and over and operators of motorboats with an engine of 10 hp or greater must take a boating safety course accredited by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

3. Check the Weather

Bad weather, high tides, and other conditions amount for more than 700 accidents, about 150 deaths and 460 injuries in any given year. The weather in Virginia is often unpredictable. Fierce afternoon storms in the summer can bring high winds and even water spouts and tornadoes. In 2018, a duck boat sank on Table Rock Lake in Missouri when a fierce storm whipped up the water, killing 17 people. A lawsuit alleged the duck boat operator was forewarned of the storm and failed to react in time.

4. Be vigilant on the water

Boating is more dangerous than many people imagine. Boaters should look out for obstacles like rocks, and piers as well as smaller vessels. Fast-moving jet skis and people in canoes and kayaks are often difficult to see as well as swimmers. Boat operators should not be distracted by passengers or electronic devices. In 2018, two people died in a crash between a recreational boat with six people aboard and an oyster barge on the James River in Newport News.

5. Keep to speed limits

Speed limits are posted in river channels and other places where speeding can be hazardous. Make sure you are familiar with them. Always be in control of your vessel.

6. Don’t Drink Alcohol

Alcohol and boats don’t mix. Alcohol has fueled some tragic accidents on America’s waterways. Boaters who drink or take drugs can face a Boating Under the Influence (BUI) charge.

7. Know your boat’s capacity

Some of the most serious boating accidents we have seen in Hampton Roads involved vessels with too many people on board tipping over. Boats can be overloaded with people or cargo. You should be aware of your vessel’s capacity.

Call a Virginia Boating Injury Lawyer over Accidents on the Water

The laws relating to accidents on the water are complicated and different from those on land. Often, maritime law is relevant in these cases. Our attorneys at the Smith Law Center are well versed in maritime law as well as the law on the land. Please contact us for a free consultation today.

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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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