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Winter weather has hit Virginia regularly over the last five years. Snow in January and February brings cities like Norfolk, Hampton, and Richmond to a standstill and renders roads treacherous. Although Virginia drivers are seeing more snow and ice, they remain poorly prepared for winter driving and crashes spike. By heeding winter driving safety tips, you can protect yourself from injury.

Heavy snow can be challenging for all types of vehicles. Although the best advice is to stay at home during a snowfall, some people have to be on the road. Despite the best advice, many motorists drive too fast in snowy conditions and cause accidents. The Smith Law Center helps injured drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists every year. Please contact us if you were hurt in a wreck in Virginia.

Why Winter Weather Causes Crashes

When snowstorms hit Virginia, many drivers are unable to cope with the slippery conditions. In December 2018, Virginia State Police reported 1,177 traffic crashes across the Commonwealth during and after a snowstorm. Of those, almost 400 occurred in the Richmond area.

Police responded to more than 900 incidents after snow in February 2018. Many of the accidents occurred in Hampton Roads.

Snow and ice can cause many problems. Drivers who speed or break too hard can slide in winter conditions. They may fail to see black ice and often snow freezes over when temperatures fall, creating a hazard hours or days after the initial storm.

People should drive differently when snow falls. They should also take more precautions before getting on the road. Here are some important tips.

Top Winter Driving Safety Tips in Virginia

  • Make basic safety checks before you head onto the roads. Ideally, stay off the roads during snowy and icy conditions
  • Check your brakes are working, your tires have enough tread, and are properly inflated
  • Check your antifreeze and thermostat
  • Make sure your windshield wipers are working
  • Check you have adequate de-icing washer fluid
  • Check the oil
  • Check all of your lights are working properly
  • Have a first aid kit and a warm blanket in your vehicle
  • Make sure you have a fully charged cell phone before you get on the road
  • Clear all snow and ice from the windows, the roof, the mirrors, and the lights before driving
  • Always wear your seat belt
  • Set out as early as possible. It will take longer to reach your destination in wintery conditions and you should never rush
  • Start driving slowly in a low gear until you become used to driving in the snow
  • Be particularly careful on bridges over overpasses where black ice is most likely to form
  • Keep a safe distance of at least five seconds behind other vehicles
  • Keep as far away as possible from snowplows. These large vehicles may suddenly stop. Don’t overtake them. The road in front of them is likely to be unplowed. Snowplows should be treated like emergency vehicles
  • Don’t brake sharply in icy and snowy conditions. You may lose control of your vehicle
  • Don’t use cruise control in snowy and icy conditions. Your car has less grip on the road when you use cruise control
  • Carry a shovel and a bag of cat litter if possible. Putting litter under your wheels can give you traction if you get stuck in the snow

Drivers should find out about road and weather conditions before they head out into the snow. It’s important to know whether a thaw is imminent or more snow is expected. You should also find out which roads are impassable and amend your route accordingly.

Before beginning your road trip, check the weather forecast or call 511 to find out about road conditions. You can go to 511virginia.org.

Accidents Caused in Snow and Ice in Virginia

Drivers should change their behavior in winter conditions.  You should never drive distracted. This is particularly true in snowy conditions where one glance away from the road to your cell phone can cause a skid.

You should drive defensively in wintery conditions. Keep your speed down and anticipate cars stuck in the snow and other hazards ahead of you. Be aware of reduced stopping times.

If you or a family member has been hurt by a driver who fails to adapt to winter conditions, you may have grounds to file a claim against that driver’s insurance company.

Our attorneys will conduct a detailed investigation and make a case against the driver who caused your injuries. The Smith Law Center has represented people injured and the families of the deceased for decades. 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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