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Few accidents are as deadly as those where cars end up under tractor-trailers. If your car slides under a trailer, its hard to avoid grave injuries. However, simple steel strips called underride bars on the rear or sides of a trailer can save lives.

In recent years, the courts have awarded large verdicts in underride accident lawsuits, prompting calls for better safety standards in the trucking industry.

In September, the family of a young man who lost his life in an underside accident was awarded $42 million against a trucking company and a trailer manufacturer.

In a shocking crash in New Mexico, 16-year-old Riley Hein careened off an embankment. His car ended up lodged underneath the side of a trailer manufactured by Utility Manufacturing Company.

The truck driver dragged the car for a half a mile until it caught on fire and Riley burned to death, his father said.

Riley’s family argued a side underside guard on the trailer may have saved the young man’s life. This August, a New Mexico jury awarded $42 million to Hein’s family in a lawsuit against the trucking company Barkandhi Express and Utility.

The family claimed the trucking company was negligent for not having a side underride guard on the trailer. A guard could have stopped Hein’s car from getting lodged under the tractor-trailer.

Side guards are manufactured to prevent vehicles from sliding underneath the side of 18-wheelers during accidents.

The TV station WUSA9 has campaigned on the issue for years. At present, trucking companies and big rig manufacturers do not have to fit underside bars on their vehicles, even though the industry has acknowledged the change would save more than 200 lives a year.

The channel reported the industry is actively seeking to defend itself against lawsuits rather than making its trucks safer.

In a letter, the Truck Trailers Manufacturers Association asked major trailer manufacturers for data on the possible costs of side guards “to develop and evaluate possible defense strategies to side underride lawsuits.”

That letter was revealed in 2004 after a $36 million verdict against a Texas company on the behalf of a victim of an underride accident. The truck in question lacked side guards.

WUSA9’s investigation “Big Rigs, Big Risks,” prompted U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to introduce bipartisan legislation requiring underride guards on the sides and front of semis. as well as updating standards for guards to be fitted on the back of trucks.

“It’s shocking how this has hurt families and communities across the country,” Gillibrand said.

Two years after the legislation was introduced it remains parked in a committee.

Earlier this year, the Government Accountability Office issued a report that said the Department of Transportation has not done enough to address underride crashes.

The DOT has agreed to do more to address the public health risk but has not provided a clear timeline as to when this would happen.

The report highlighted an average of 219 fatal underside crashes every year but concluded the actual figure may be larger. The report stated:

“Police officers responding to a crash do not use a standard definition of an underride crash and states’ crash report forms vary, with some not including a field for collecting underride data. Further, police officers receive limited information on how to identify and record underride crashes.”

The GAO says the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration may not have accurate data at its disposal to support efforts to reduce traffic deaths from underride accidents.

Concern about underside crashes has sparked a national movement. Marianne Karth and Lois Durso, mothers who both lost children in accidents in which cars slide under trucks, successfully lobbied to get bi-partisan legislation introduced in 2018.

However, it may take more big lawsuits against trucking companies to push the balance in favor of this relatively cheap safety feature being fitted on all tractor-trailers on the roads of Virginia and elsewhere.

Talk to a Virginia Trucking Accident Lawyer About Underside Crashes

At the Smith Law Center we help many victims of trucking accidents  Given the size of these vehicles, injuries are usually more acute and motorists are less likely to survive a crash involving a big rig. Critical injuries like traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, and damaged organs are more likely in semi-truck accidents. Please call us for a free consultation 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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