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We expect the drivers of emergency vehicles to be careful. However, thousands of people sustain injuries in accidents involving emergency vehicles every year.

The figures are not as surprising as they may seem. Police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances often travel at fast speeds. Even when their lights and sirens on one error can cause a serious accident.

An emergency vehicle responding to an incident can engender panic in other drivers as they attempt to pull over to avoid fast-moving ambulances, cop cars, or fire trucks.

Every year over 100 people lose their lives in accidents involving these vehicles, according to the National Highways Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The agency reported that 559 law enforcement officers were killed in the United States by vehicle crashes from 2000 to 2008.

The statistics only tell half of the story. More innocent bystanders and other motorists lose their lives in police chases and crashes involving cruisers.

Police chases claim the lives on an average of 355 people every year, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. About a third of those who lose their lives are innocent bystanders.

A 2019 article by McClatchy indicated the number of innocent people who die in police chases is rising. At least 416 people died in police chases in 2017, according to an analysis of federal records by FairWarning. This was the fourth consecutive year when the number of people killed as a result of police pursuits increased – and a 22-percent increase over 2013 when 341 people were killed. At least 13,100 people died in police pursuits from 1979 through 2017, according to official statistics.

The death toll from police chases is considerable. More people die every year in these accidents than from hurricanes and tornadoes combined. The statistics also found.

In 57 cases, people lost their lives in crashes in which the fleeing driver was hitting speeds at over 100 mph.

Black people lose their lives disproportionately. African Americans accounted for 36 percent of the deaths of people whose race was recorded, compared to just 12 percent of the U.S. population.

A quarter of the drivers who were fleeing from police vehicles were drunk. The decision of police to chase drunk drivers has been questioned. Intoxicated drivers are more likely to crash, causing deaths and injuries.

John Whetsel, a retired Oklahoma sheriff and chairman of the traffic safety committee of the National Sheriffs’ Association told McClatchy the number of pursuit-related deaths is rising because suspects are more likely to flee police than in the past.

Crashes Involving Ambulances in Virginia

In May 2019, four people were injured in a crash between an ambulance and a pickup truck in Richmond. When ambulances are involved in crashes, vulnerable patients being transported may suffer serious and life-threatening injuries.

In 2018 in King George County, a Westmoreland County ambulance was taking a patient to a local hospital when it hit two vehicles at an intersection. Police say the emergency lights and siren were activated when the crash happened. One occupant of a van died and two other people suffered injuries.

The NHTSA released a report detailing the number of ambulance accidents in the United States. The agency studied the number of ambulance accidents over a 20 year period from 1992-2011.

The study released in 2014 revealed there are about 6,500 accidents involving ambulances every year. As many as 35 percent of crashes resulted in injury or the death of at least one of the people involved in the accident.

Due to the speed of emergency vehicles, the fatality rates in crashes in fire trucks, ambulances, and police cruisers are about 4.8 times higher than the national average.

A report from the NHTSA stated a quarter of all fatalities occur inside the ambulance at the time of the crash. In the majority of fatal crashes involving an ambulance, the driver or passenger of another vehicle loses his or her life.

Crashes Involving Fire Trucks in Virginia

Fire trucks are involved in crashes on occasions in Virginia. Recently, a fire truck in Chesterfield was rear-ended at the scene of an incident.

In 2018, two volunteer firefighters died and three others suffered injuries after their fire truck crashed while responding to a highway wreck in West Virginia. The five members of the Pratt Volunteer Fire Department were heading toward a crash on the West Virginia Turnpike.

Fire trucks are heavy vehicles that move at fast speeds. Every year, about 1,000 injuries and a handful of deaths are caused in fire truck accidents.

When the Emergency Services are to Blame for Crashes

Although emergency vehicles have the right of way when their blue lights are on and their sirens are activated, that does not mean drivers of emergency vehicles cannot be reckless. On occasions, they have not even activated their flashers and sirens when responding to an incident.

All too often police officers start pursuits over minor traffic infractions. Often innocent bystanders and other people in other vehicles end up injured or dead.

If you or a family member has been hurt in an accident involving an emergency vehicle, please contact the Smith Law Center 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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