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School Bus Accidents in Virginia


School bus accidents in Virginia occur with an alarming regularity. Often large numbers of students are treated for injuries after a bus accident. Although serious injuries to students are rare in school bus accidents, the drivers and occupants of other vehicles involved in a crash with a school bus often suffer critical injuries.

In some cases, carelessness on the behalf of a school bus driver causes an accident. During the school year, it’s common to read about school bus incidents in Hampton, Newport News, Chesapeake, Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

Despite the large number of school bus crashes, Virginia has resisted moves to make seat belts compulsory on school buses.

Do You Need to Hire a Virginia School Bus Lawyer?

Accidents involving school buses can be complicated. Your child may have suffered life-altering injuries. However, these cases often involve dealing with a government entity and present particular challenges.

Students have also been injured getting on and off school buses. Some bus stops are poorly designed, putting students at risk.

The Smith Law Center has been handling car, truck, motorcycle and bus accidents for decades. Please contact us if you or your child was injured in a school bus accident.

School Bus Crashes in Hampton and Newport News

The Virginia Peninsula has been the scene of numerous school bus accidents.

  • In 2016, a Hampton school bus driver was charged over a crash that killed another driver at the intersection of Settlers Landing Road and Pembroke Avenue.
  • In 2017, a Newport News school bus was part of an accident that caused the driver to swerve and cross a median into oncoming traffic, colliding with a Toyota sedan at Jefferson Avenue and City Center Boulevard.
  • In 2013, a Newport News school bus slid into a ditch at the intersection of Forrest Drive and Woods Road.

 

Who Can be Held Responsible for School Bus Accidents?

Depending on the nature of a school bus accident and the cause one or more of the following parties can be held responsible for school bus accidents in Virginia.

  •   The driver of the school bus
  •   A school district
  •   A church, private school or other organization that owned and operated the school bus
  •   The manufacturer of a school bus
  •   A third party or private company contracted to provide transportation for a school
  •   A workshop contracted to repair and maintain the bus
  •   The manufacturer of parts
  •   The driver of another vehicle
  •   A government entity responsible for a bus stop, roadway design, and maintenance

 

Bringing Lawsuits Against School Bus Operators

Virginia has a doctrine of sovereign immunity which is derived from English Common Law. It meant the King or Queen could not be sued. Today, sovereign immunity can allow local authorities and school authorities to avoid liability in lawsuits. To fight sovereign immunity you must prove an employee of a public entity was grossly negligent.

However, lawsuits have been successfully brought against cities in Virginia over school bus accidents.

Recently, a lawsuit against the Virginia Beach School Board settled for $2.5 million after a school bus driver ran over and killed a sailor.

A $7.5 million settlement was reached in the case of a motorcyclist who was hit in the head by the mirror of a school bus in Hampton Roads. He sustained a brain stem injury and fractures to his pelvis and leg.

Given the size and weight of school buses, other road users often suffer more serious injuries than the students inside a school bus. About 65 percent of people killed in school-transportation related accidents lose their lives after being hit by the school bus, according to figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Many parts of Virginia are facing a shortage of school bus drivers. This means there are many inexperienced or older drivers on the roads who may be more likely to make mistakes.

Concerns also linger about the lack of seat belts on school buses.  In 2017, the Virginia General Assembly considered a bill requiring seat belts on new school buses, with a goal of all buses in the state being fitted with seat belts by 2027. The bill did not pass.

However, Henrico County Public Schools went ahead and started fitting seat belts on its buses in 2017.

Hire an Experienced Hampton, Virginia School Bus Lawyer

Attorneys at the Smith Law Center have been helping the injured since 1949. Almost 70 years later founder Joseph Smith’s sons Stephen and Howard Smith own and operate The Smith Law Center with the same guiding principles of helping people hurt by the actions of others. 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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