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Opioid Overdoses and Brain Injuries

The opioid epidemic is one of the most serious crises to sweep the United States in recent years. One little-known effect of opioid overdoses is traumatic brain injury. 

The Brain Injury Association of Virginia warns permanent brain damage is a real and life-changing consequence of an opioid overdose.   

Powerful opioids are depressants. That means the drugs slow down the breathing of the person who takes them. An overdose causes the body to forget to breathe on its own. The consequences can be disastrous for the victim of an overdose. They include hypoxia when the brain suffers a lack of oxygen, or anoxia when it receives no oxygen.  

Signs of Brain Injuries During Opioid Overdoses 

Seconds count during overdoses. The longer the brain is deprived of oxygen, the more serious the consequences of the oxygen loss. Permanent brain damage occurs in just 3-5 minutes of the brain losing oxygen. People who suffer these injuries face serious impairment. 

Unlike traumatic brain injury, the whole of the brain rather than a portion of it is affected. Opioid overdoses that cause brain injuries can cause the following effects: 

  • Problems with concentration
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Issues with balance and coordination
  • Vision or hearing loss
  • Difficulty doing everyday things like getting dressed
  • Depression, confusion, anger, and irritability
  • Issues in writing and communicating 


Opioid Overdoses and Brain Injuries Are on the Rise 

Over the last few years, the number of overdoses from opiates and other drugs has spiked. The Media Research Center reported that drug overdoses overtook motor vehicle accident fatalities nationwide for the first time recently. Moves to restrict opiate overdoses saw an upsurge in the use of heroin. 

In the two decades since 1999, about 200,000 Americans have died from a prescription drug overdose. More people started using heroin in response to efforts by lawmakers to restrict overprescribing, shopping for doctors, and the sale of opioids via online pharmacies. As prescription drug overdoses fell from 2010 to 2015, the number of heroin overdoses tripled.  

Opioids are synthetic pills originating from the poppy plant. Examples include Fentanyl, heroin, and prescription opioid painkillers. Synthetic opioids are among the most dangerous and addictive drugs. Fentanyl, a synthetic opiate, is 25 to 50 times more powerful than heroin, which is a semi-synthetic drug. 

What is Toxic Brain Injury? 

The Brain Injury Association of America notes the term Toxic Brain Injury was first coined during the opioid epidemic. It’s a brain injury that occurs from prolonged substance misuse and a non-deadly overdose. Hypoxic brain injury occurs when the brain fails to receive sufficient oxygen. Anoxic brain injury occurs when the brain receives no oxygen. The amount of time the brain is deprived of oxygen dictates the severity of the injury. 

Toxic Brain Injury may disrupt the supply of nutrients required by brain tissue. It can cause injury, and the death of brain cells, including neurotransmitter receptors. Toxic brain injury can alter chemical concentrations in the brain, including hormones and neurotransmitters. 

The condition can deprive the brain tissue of oxygen. The extent of devastation to the brain will depend on the seriousness of the overdose and how long the brain was deprived of oxygen for.  

The Brain Injury Association of America states people with a prior history of substance misuse before their brain injury are 10 times more likely to resume past behavior. It is highlighting the importance of treating brain injury and addiction together. 

People who suffer from TBIs and substance abuse may not realize the link between both conditions. Often they fail to seek help for the two issues. However, parallel treatments are often helpful. 

Opioid Overdoses Spark Lawsuits 

Many big drug companies are facing lawsuits over the opioid epidemic. Recently, NPR reported an upsurge in litigation in 2019. Thousands of local and state governments are demanding that companies like Purdue Pharma, Rite-Aid and Walmart compensate them for the costs of responding to the opioid crisis. They are seeking to get companies to reveal far more internal documents, detailing what they previously knew about the risks of prescription pain medications. 

People whose loved ones suffered overdoses after they became addicted to prescribed opiates may have grounds to sue the big drug companies. Although litigation has a lot way to play out, the devastating impacts of opioids on lives is not in doubt. Lawsuits are already underway over well-known opioids like OxyContin.  

At the Smith Law Center, our attorneys have taken big drug manufacturers to trial. Please call us today for a free consultation 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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