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Swimming Pool Accidents and Injuries in Virginia


When the temperatures soar into the 80s and 90s in Virginia during the summer months thousands of people head to the nearest pool, whether at their apartment complex, a back yard, a hotel, or a club.

Although pools are great places to cool off, families are often unaware of the many dangers pools pose, particularly to kids.

From the risk of drowning to dangerous chemicals, pools in Virginia are a lot more dangerous than we think.

How Dangerous Are Swimming Pools in Virginia?

Swimming pools have a powerful effect on children. Toddlers are attracted to the sparkling blue water. Tragically, toddlers drowned in swimming pools in Hampton Roads in recent years.

Most of the drownings of children aged 4 and under occur in backyard swimming pools. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission studied pool drownings in children aged 4 and under in California, Arizona, and Florida – three states with the highest number of pools. Nearly 70% of the kids who drowned were not expected to be in the pool area. In fact, 46% were last seen in the house.

A quarter of the drownings occurred at a friend or a neighbor’s homes. Some cities like Virginia Beach require pools to be fenced by law. You should be aware that pool covers do not offer adequate protection against drowning.

The USA Swimming Foundation points out 205 children under the age of 15 drowned in swimming pools and spas in 2015. Nearly 70 percent of the victims were under the age of five.

The Foundation said 163 children under the age of 15 died in swimming pools from Memorial Day to Labor Day 2017. Virginia was the eighth most deadly state for swimming pool deaths, recording 7. The highest death toll of 25 was reported in Florida.

Every year, more than 2,700 people are admitted to emergency rooms after they get in trouble in the water. On occasions, these swimmers can suffer a depletion of oxygen to the brain and end up with permanent brain damage.

The Pool Safety campaign run by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends the following steps to make pools safer.

  • Always install a four-sided fence around pools. Make sure there us a self-closing, self-latching gate around all pools and spas to ensure children can’t get in.
  • Learn the basics of how to perform CPR on children and adults. Seconds count in drowning incidents.
  • Designate an adult ‘water watcher’ to supervise children in and around the pools.
  • Do not be distracted by electronic devices when watching your kids swim.
  • Make sure you can swim and teach your child how to swim.
  • Teach young swimmers to avoid pool drains, pipes, and other pool openings. These can trap children
  • Make sure any pool or spa your kids swim in is equipped with drain covers that comply with federal safety standards. If you are unsure what this means, contact your pool service provider about safer drain covers.

 

What Dangers do Swimming Pool Chemicals Cause in Virginia?

Although chlorine has a role to play in keeping pools clear, recent studies suggest it is a serious public health risk. Some pool operators add incorrect doses of swimming pool chemicals.

Chlorine is linked to nervous system diseases, respiratory deaths, and heart defects. In some cases, chlorine gases near pools harmed children. In Nebraska, in 2006 a six-year-old boy developed suffered a medical emergency from a condition called epiglottis due to exposure to swimming pool chlorine. 

Electrical Dangers at Swimming Pools

Every year, about 20 people suffer electrocution from swimming pools. Electricity and water is a deadly combination. On occasions, a defect with a pool light, power cords, pumps, filters, or vacuums can cause an electric shock to swimmers.

In 2017, a community pool in Virginia Beach was closed down after swimmers were hospitalized from electric shocks.

Suction Entrapment at Swimming Pools

An ABC News report highlighted 83 reports of suction entrapment in pools, including 11 fatalities and 69 injuries from 1999 to 2008. Campaigns to provide swimmers with better protection from powerful suction drains have been unsuccessful to date.

Who is Liable for Swimming Pool Deaths and Injuries?

A pool owner or operator can be held liable for deaths and injuries on their premises. If, for example, a hotel worker leaves a gate open to a pool and a child walks in and drowns, the hotel can be sued in a wrongful death suit.

Hotels have been sued over defects such as pool drains that injured children or excessive pool chemicals in the water.

Liability for pool injuries often depends on the circumstances of the accident. For example, if a neighborhood association or a club has a lifeguard on duty, the organization may be liable for a failure of the lifeguard to save a swimmer from death or injury.

Under the law of premises liability, the pool owner or operator has a duty to provide a safe environment. It includes maintaining a safe pool area, although there is no obligation on hotels to have lifeguards at their pools. The owner or pool cannot be held liable for unforeseeable events.

Lifeguards are hired and trained specifically to ensure the safety of swimmers. Although state laws vary, they are held to a higher standard of care than other people at a pool. In some cases, lifeguards have failed to perform rescues because they were distracted by mobile devices, other guests or even intoxicated.

Contact an Attorney About Swimming Pool Drownings in Virginia

At The Smith Law Center, our experienced injury team will leave no stone unturned in investigating pool accidents and injuries in Virginia. Our lawyers have won many premises liability cases. Please 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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