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Truckers do a tough job. They drive long hours with few breaks. Their employers put them under pressure to meet deadlines. The prospect of truckers falling asleep behind the wheel of vehicles weighing up to 80,000 is a truly terrifying one that happens all too frequently.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a branch of the U.S. Department of Transportation, has hours-of-service rules that control how long truckers can drive at any one time. However, the rules remain controversial with trucking companies. Now the FMSCA is considering relaxations in the trucker hours of service rules.

According to Safety and Health magazine, a new rule was due to be released in the summer of 2019.  Department of Transportation issued a regulatory update released in June.

The FMCSA received over 5,200 comments on an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking published last August in the Federal Register. Potential changes include:

  • Widening the 100-mile short-haul exemption to 14 hours on duty from 12 hours on duty, to make it consistent with rules for long-haul truck drivers.
  • Increasing the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by up to two hours if a trucker experiences adverse driving conditions.
  • Revising the existing mandatory 30-minute break for truckers who have been driving for eight hours continuously.
  • Reinstating the option to split the mandatory 10-hour off-duty rest break for truckers who drive vehicles with sleeper berth compartments.

 

The Department of Transportation has discussed other changes to the hours of service regulations. They include allowing commercial vehicle operators to use multiple off-duty periods of at least three hours instead of taking 10 consecutive hours off the road. The proposal was submitted in 2018 by TruckerNation.org whose members argued it would give them more flexibility.

The Owner Occupied Independent Drivers Association petitioned for drivers who operate under HOS regulations to be allowed one rest break during a 14-hour on-duty period. The break could be up to three straight hours if the driver is off duty the whole period. The organization stated in a press release, “The rest break would effectively stop the 14-hour clock. However, drivers would still need to log 10 consecutive hours off duty before the start of their next work shift.”

How Serious is Fatigue in Truckers?

Research suggests fatigue causes about 10 % of all crashes in Virginia and elsewhere. Drowsy drivers cause more than 1,500 deaths a year on the roads of the United States.

The FMCSA cites the influential Large Truck Crash Causation Study of 2007 to state fatigue is a factor in 13 percent of all US commercial motor vehicle crashes.

The Hours of Service regulations apply to commercial vehicle drivers and bus drivers. Truckers who falsify records or fail to comply with the hours of service rules face being placed out of service when they are unable to make money. The FMSCA levies heavy fines on trucking companies.

Despite the sanctions, many truckers continue to violate the hours of service regulations. They may also drive fast or recklessly to hit deadlines or take drugs in an attempt to stay awake. Tired truckers have caused some terrible accidents on the highways of Virginia and elsewhere. The prospect of an out-of-control big rig is a truly terrifying one and these wrecks often lead to multiple casualties.

At the Smith Law Center, we help people who sustain terrible injuries in trucking crashes. Often the driver or the passengers of other cars, pedestrians, motorcyclists or cyclists sustain severe brain injuries. We will help you fight for justice against the trucker, the trucking companies, and other parties. Please call us 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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We are one of Virginia’s largest and most successful law firms.

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