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Defective Automobile Injuries in Virginia


Most claims for injuries in Virginia automobile accidents are brought against an at-fault driver, although the driver’s insurance company makes the payout. However, in some cases, a defectively designed car, truck, bus or motorcycle may have caused an injury or a death. When this happens, a product liability claim can be brought against a carmaker or another party.

At the Smith Law Center, we fight lawsuits against automakers and the manufacturers of defective vehicle parts. In recent years, the automobile industry has been hit by a series of scandals. Unsafe and defective parts on GM, Chrysler, and Toyota cars resulted in multiple deaths and injuries. Millions of vehicles with defective airbags were recalled.

A vehicle may have a part that was faulty and not designed to specification. In some instances, the design of a vehicle is defective. People injured by either may have grounds to sue the manufacturer in a product liability claim.

Types of Defective Automobile Claims in Virginia

Defectively Manufactured Vehicles or Car Parts

Claims may be made against a manufacturer when a car, truck, motorcycle or a part was incorrectly designed. Recently, tens of millions of cars equipped with Takata airbags were recalled because some devices fail and explode during fender benders, sending shrapnel flying into victims, noted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

A part may be improperly manufactured due to an error at the facility where the car or part of it was made, or a problem that occurs during shipping or at the dealership or supply company.

Vehicles of an Inherently Dangerous Design

On occasions, a vehicle may be of an unreasonably dangerous design even though it was manufactured as intended. An example is a make of SUV that flips over easily on a curve.

These cases involve vehicles or parts that have been on the market for some time before the danger is discovered. The design of a vehicle may exacerbate the seriousness of injuries sustained.

Examples of Cars that Caused Defective Automobile Injuries

GM Faulty Ignition Switches

A faulty ignition switch on certain smaller General Motors models of cars was linked to at least 124 deaths and 275 injuries. The ignition switches failed causing cars to stall on the highway.

Fires from Chrysler Gas Tanks

Chrysler recalled 1.5 million Jeeps following concerns exposed plastic gas tanks could rupture and catch fire. The defect was linked to at least 50 deaths but safety advocates believe the death toll was higher.

Toyota Sudden Acceleration Issue

From 2009 to 2011, Toyota recalled millions of vehicles. Sticking acceleration pedals were linked to unintended acceleration.  The defect caused about 90 deaths and many more injuries.

Takata Airbag Scandal

Faulty air bags made by the Japanese manufacturer Takata resulted in the largest recall in the history of the auto industry. Takata airbags are found in numerous makes of cars.

NHTSA determined the root cause of the problem to be airbags that use an ammonium nitrate-based propellant without a chemical drying agent. In humid areas with high temperatures, airbags were unexpectedly deflating and, in some cases, sending shrapnel into drivers or passengers.

The inflator recall impacted more than 37 million vehicles in the U.S., involving 49.5 million inflators. At least 20 deaths and numerous injuries are linked to the airbags.

Firestone Tires on Ford Explorers

Defective tires that separated causing crashes were linked to the deaths of at least 270 people in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Bridgestone/Firestone recalled 6.5 million tires, mostly original equipment on the Ford Explorer, the world’s top-selling sports utility vehicle (SUV).

Who Can Be Held Liable for Defective Automobile Injuries in Virginia?

All parties in the so-called “chain of distribution” of the automobile or vehicle part from the manufacturer to the consumer can be sued for injuries or deaths caused by a defective product. They may include the:

Automobile Manufacturer. Cases are often brought against the big carmakers. In some cases such as the GM ignition switch issue, a carmaker may offer a certain sum to victims. The carmaker offered $594.5 million to the 399 cases that were eligible for compensation, including 124 deaths. It averaged out at about $1.5 million per claim.

Parts manufacturer. When a case involves a defective part, such as an airbag, a tire or a battery, the manufacturer of that part should be included in the action. Both the vehicle and the parts manufacturer should be sued together unless the defective part was bought separately. If a replacement tire fails, for example, the car manufacturer is not part of the distribution chain.

Car dealership or auto supply shop. The company that sold you a defective vehicle or a part may be liable for damages.  

A shipping company. Any company, including a shipper or any other middleman in the chain of distribution, may be held liable for its role in the chain of distribution.

Contact an Attorney to Help You With a Defective Automobile Claim

The Hampton, Virginia-based Smith Law Center has helped clients recover more than a billion dollars in settlements and verdicts. Defective automobile claims can be very complicated and involve multiple parties. We have a long track record in these cases. Call us 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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Use the simple form below to send a message directly to our lawyers. We will respond within 1 hour or less during business hours.
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