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If you’re injured while on someone’s property, who can be held liable? Does it matter whether you have their permission to be there?
Under premises liability law, property owners can be held liable in various instances when someone is injured while on their property. Premises liability holds property owners responsible for maintaining safe conditions on their property. These include securing against slip and falls, deck collapses, and other hazards.
However, it’s important to note that their liability also depends on the nature of the person visiting the property. A number of factors are considered when determining liability, especially the visitor’s reason or purpose for being on the property.
Determining responsibility in a premises liability case can be a complex matter. If you or a loved one were injured while on someone else’s property, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit. Contact the Smith Law Center at (757) 244-7000 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your rights.
Premises liability law outlines three types of visitors: invitees, licensees, and trespassers. These will be discussed in more detail below.

What Is an Invitee?

An invitee is a person that the property owner has specifically invited to enter their property for a lawful purpose.

An example of this is a friend or neighbor that the property owner invited for a visit, or a customer doing business at a store.

Duty of Care Owed to Invitees
Property owners can be held liable for injuries to invitees if they knew or should have known the dangerous condition existed when exercising reasonable care in inspecting their property. Property owners have a duty to warn invitees of such risk, as well as a duty to inspect the premises for any known dangers that might hurt them.

What Are the Two Types of Invitees?

Some state laws further delineate invitees into two categories:

  • Business Invitees: Those who lawfully enter the property to do business with the owner
  • Public Invitees: A person who enters the property for the purpose for which the property is held open to the public, even if no business purpose is involved (such as someone who takes a walk in a public park during operating hours)

For business invitees, the liable party will usually be the business owner; for public invitees, it is typically a government agency that can be held liable (such as a Parks & Recreation Department).

What Is a Licensee?

A licensee is someone who is allowed to be on and remain on the premises for their own benefit, at the consent of the owner.

An example would be a person that the property owner has granted permission to hike or camp on their land. Another example might be when a property owner allows a utility company to perform work on their land to repair pipes.

Duty of Care Owed to Licensees
Property owners are liable for injuries to licensees if they had reason to know of any hazards, yet failed to take steps to correct them. Similar to invitees, the owner has a duty to warn licensees of dangers; however, they don’t have a duty to inspect their property before the licensee enters.

What Is a Trespasser?

A trespasser is someone who has entered or remained on the property with no permission or no legal right.

Common examples include someone breaking and entering into a house, a person hiking on a plot of land without the owner’s permission, or a person loitering inside a business without the owner’s consent.

Duty of Care Owed to Trespassers
Generally speaking, property owners are not responsible for any injuries sustained by a trespasser. They don’t have any duty to warn them of dangers or to inspect their property and make it safe for them.

What Are Some Helpful Tips to Remember About Visitors to Property?

As mentioned, the differences between invitees, licensees, and trespassers can be a lot to take in. Here are few more pointers to help clarify the categories:

  • Property owners owe the highest duty of care to invitees, less of a duty to licensees, and the lowest level of care to trespassers
  • An invitee’s presence on the property is mutually beneficial for both parties; a licensee’s presence is only on the property for their own convenience or interest.
  • An invitee’s status only applies within the scope of permission granted by the property owner. For instance, if an invitee is allowed to do business in the main area of a store, and they go snooping in the back storage areas and are injured, they might not have the full protection of an invitee.

Note that state laws may vary slightly with regard to each of these exact categories and definitions. If you have any questions about premises liability laws, contact a lawyer for additional advice and guidance.

If you were injured on someone else’s property, you may be eligible for compensation through a lawsuit.

What Does This Mean for Visitors to Property Who Were Injured on the Premises?

If you were injured on someone else’s property, you may be eligible for compensation through a lawsuit. The following are steps you can take after the incident which can help your attorney with preparations:

  • Seek medical attention immediately; failure to do so could affect your ability to collect damages
  • Be sure to keep all medical records and documents related to the incident
  • Contact a lawyer and don’t speak to the other party or anyone else until you have legal representation
  • Write down an account of what happened while the memory is still fresh in your mind; include details such as whether you were invited to the premises and whether you were warned about any dangers of the property

If you can’t handle any of these due to your injuries, that’s ok — it’s our job as attorneys to prepare the evidence and legal strategies for your case.

Damages in a Premises Liability Lawsuit
A qualified premises liability can help you recover costs such as:

  • Medical bills for your injuries
  • Lost wages as you recover
  • Loss of the ability to generate income caused by long-term injury
  • Pain and suffering, and other expenses

What Does This Mean for Property Owners?

For property owners, the best thing you can do is exercise reasonable care in maintaining and repairing your property. If you see something broken, try your best to fix or repair it. Just because you owe a lower duty of care to someone based on their status, doesn’t mean you can’t go beyond and take extra steps to ensure their safety.

Also, if you have any doubts about an area of your property that might be dangerous, such as a rickety staircase, let your visitors know about it or tell them that it’s off-limits. Preventing an accident in the first place is preferable to dealing with the aftermath of an injury and a possible lawsuit.

Don’t take risks lightly — even a seemingly simple slip and fall accident can lead to something serious like a traumatic brain injury.

Contact a Premises Liability for Legal Representation for Your Case

Having an accident on another person’s property can be scary. You might not know what to do or how to begin pursuing a remedy for your losses. A qualified lawyer can help guide you through the legal process.

At the Smith Law Center, our attorneys have in-depth experience regarding premises liability and other complex injury claims. Contact us at (757) 244-7000 to set up a no-cost, no-obligation consultation to review your legal options. Reaching out to a lawyer is the first step toward a better quality of life after an accident.

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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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