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A wrongful death adds feelings of outrage and injustice to the already overwhelming pain of a life lost. We at Smith Law Center have compiled some basic answers to the most common questions clients have regarding wrongful death. Who can file for wrongful death? How much is the average wrongful death settlement? How are wrongful death settlements paid out?

If you’re ready to speak to a wrongful death lawyer, call us directly at (757) 244-7000 with your specific questions. Read on for general advice regarding wrongful death settlements and how they work.

A man decides to call a wrongful death attorney.

What Is Wrongful Death?

Under the law, wrongful death lawsuits are civil actions (as opposed to criminal) which seek damages (both economic and non-economic) against a person or entity for causing a death that should not have happened.

Wrongful deaths can occur in medical settings, in vehicular collisions, on the job, on the street, in retail establishments, or essentially anywhere that humans may tread. When someone in your life dies because something went wrong that shouldn’t have, you may consider filing a wrongful death lawsuit.

One of the first questions people ask when considering legal redress is: Will a wrongful death lawsuit be worth it? We at Smith Law Center have compiled general answers here. However, for specific questions regarding your circumstances, we encourage you to call us at (757) 244-7000 or contact us online for a free consultation as soon as possible, because time is likely of the essence.

The Basics Regarding Wrongful Death Settlements

To be clear up front: there is no average wrongful death settlement or payout. This is because each wrongful death is treated with the gravity it deserves in a legal setting, and is decided (literally) on a case-by-case basis. Understanding the basics laid out here may help you understand what is at stake.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit?

This varies state-to-state in the U.S., but across the board, parents, spouses, and surviving children always have the right to pursue justice for a deceased child, partner, or parent. In some areas, distant relatives (like grandparents) or non-familial financial dependents may also have standing to file a wrongful death claim.

Contact a lawyer at Smith Law Center at (757) 244-7000 if you have questions about your standing to file suit in a case of wrongful death.

How Much Can You Get In a Wrongful Death Suit?

Once more, how much you can get in a wrongful death suit is not a question that can be answered generally. Every wrongful death case, just like every life lost, is unique and must be considered in context. For specific questions, contact Smith Law Center directly with your concerns. In the meantime, basic elements regarding wrongful death payouts and settlements are as follows:

  • Medical expenses: These costs may be reimbursed or the debts accounted for in cases of medical malpractice, or in cases where the injury that led to wrongful death involved medical care.
  • Funeral and burial costs: Whether your loved one’s final wishes involved cremation, a funeral, a natural burial, or were never specified and now it’s up to you to honor them as best you know how, every option costs time and money to accomplish. These are costs that would be considered in a wrongful death settlement.
  • Estate costs: Closing out someone’s home, their belongings, and all their financial ties and debts after death can be a long, stressful process. In cases of wrongful death, it’s acknowledged that these tasks are the necessary result of an unnecessary loss of life. A settlement or verdict in your favor may also account for your time and attorneys’ fees in settling an estate.
  • Loss of income/benefits: The loss of income and work-related benefits like health insurance or pensions may be calculated for those lost at the start of their career, during their working years, or after retirement. Experienced wrongful death attorneys like we at Smith Law Center know how to present such losses in order to get you full consideration under the law.
  • Punitive damages: Since wrongful death settlements by definition declare that someone has behaved irresponsibly, recklessly, or maliciously, a judge may charge the culpable party punitive or “punishment” damages. These may be awarded to you in addition to the other costs you’re owed.
  • Pain and suffering: Wrongful deaths often cause mental and emotional anguish, loss of care from a spouse or parent, stress, sorrow, anger, and confusion or chaos in the lives of surviving loved ones. An experienced attorney is needed to present these human losses in a legal framework.

There are many factors that inform a wrongful death settlement amount, which is why there is no one-size-fits-all average. Call Smith Law Center at (757) 244-7000 to discuss your unique circumstances.

How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out?

Once it’s been decided that you’re owed compensation after a wrongful death, methods of payout may matter greatly. Will you get a lump sum? Will it be a payment plan? What about taxes?

Here are the most common wrongful death payout options:

  • Lump sum: When settling to avoid a lawsuit, it is common to receive one lump sum for the full payout of the settlement. This can be crucial for families or surviving loved ones who may be in debt, treading water financially, or require the monetary means to put the person they’ve lost fully to rest. This provides a great amount of flexibility, and could mean a fresh start for a healing heart.
  • Structured settlement: Structured payouts are less flexible than a lump sum payment, but they can serve to help replace lost streams of income, and provide a reliable source of support over a long period of time. An experienced wrongful death attorney will help you understand the payment structure, and make it clear that (once agreed to) these types of settlements are difficult to alter in frequency or amount after the fact.

Regarding taxes on wrongful death settlements: the IRS generally does not tax your wrongful death lawsuit settlement or damages award. In some rare circumstances, portions may be taxed if, for example, they’re meant to repay medical costs that were deducted from your taxable income in previous years.

Again, a qualified and attentive attorney like the legal minds at Smith Law Center will make sure you understand your settlement fully before you agree to it.

There are many factors that inform a wrongful death settlement amount, which is why there is no one-size-fits-all average. Call Smith Law Center at (757) 244-7000 to discuss your unique circumstances.

Contact Wrongful Death Lawyers at Smith Law Center

Smith Law Center is a family-run law firm with a long history of achieving successful case results for our clients and their loved ones. If you’ve suffered a wrongful death loss, it’s important to obtain legal representation as soon as possible. A statute of limitation may apply to your circumstances, which limits the window of time you have to pursue legal options. Similarly, if too much time passes, important evidence may be lost or hidden before it can be secured by your legal advocates.

Refer to our list of Wrongful Death Frequently Asked Questions for more information, and call us at (757) 244-7000 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation at your earliest convenience. We are here to help the families and loved ones of wrongful death victims seek justice.

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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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