Newsletter

Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected]

If you’ve lived in Vienna for any length of time, you’ve heard about the long wait times for local pools.

Pro Tip: if you’re selling a home and you have a pool membership make sure you advertise that! It’s a huge selling feature as the buyer can buy your membership. There are 6 main pools in the area, which I’ll list below, but this list is for anyone who is looking for other options to find water: local pools, spraygrounds and splash pads.

My kids are past the splash pad age, so if I’ve missed anything new please share with the readers below!

Local Vienna Pools

Spray grounds, Splash Pads and Waterparks

  • The Boro Splash Pad — 15 jet splash pad at the Boro Park. Waiting to hear if they’re on yet for the season.
  • Our Special Harbor (6601 Telegraph Road, Franconia) — This Chesapeake Bay themed splash park has a water maze, dumping crab basket, spray fountains, misting flowers and interactive water tables. Aquatic shoes or sandals with a back strap are required for kids under 15. There’s also a carousel.
  • The Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole (400 Lake Fairfax Drive, Reston) — Here you’ll find a pool, slides, a lazy river, an area for kids with a smaller slide, covered picnic areas and chairs for lounging. This is a great option for day trips to a pool if you’re not a member of any of the local pools. We bought a family pass our first summer in Vienna when we weren’t members of a pool yet, and it was a great way to pass the summer. We have also done birthday parties here — so much fun!
  • Ocean Dunes Waterpark (6060 Wilson Blvd, Arlington) — Explore multiple pools for different ages, large slides, a “sprayground” with a dumping bucket and many areas for lounging in the sun. It’s also adjacent to an 18-hole mini-golf course — another great way to pass a lazy day!
  • Volcano Island Waterpark (20015 Volcano Drive, Sterling): — This is another great option with a pool, “sprayground,” slides and a dumping bucket.
  • Atlantis Waterpark (7700 Bull Run Drive, Centreville) — Keep the kids busy with waterslides, pools, a play island with smaller slides and a huge 500-gallon dumping bucket.
  • Great Waves Waterpark (4001 Eisenhower Avenue, Alexandria) — For the adventurous, this park includes speed slides, waterslides, a wave pool and a small kids’ zone for the younger crowd. There’s also a mini-golf course, batting cages, playground and cabanas.
Photo via Toni Cuenca/Unsplash

Other Pool Options

Reston Lifetime Fitness — They have an outdoor pool, but you also get access to the rest of the gym
Sport and Health Tysons — Indoor and outdoor pools, in addition to access to the full club.
McLean and Fairfax Pools – many have openings and no wait!

The preceding sponsored post was also published on FFXnow.com

If you work in or live near a factory that handles dangerous chemicals, exposure to such chemicals can result in illnesses or injuries. Business owners are responsible for ensuring that the chemicals they use at their facilities are used and disposed of correctly to avoid the possibility of inflicting harm on others.

If a premises owner neglects their duty to keep employees and the community safe, they can be held liable for damages resulting from contact with the dangerous chemicals.

If you suffer injuries from exposure to toxic chemicals, you may be eligible to recoup compensation for damages resulting from the harmful exposure. However, compensation does not come automatically. You must file a claim with the at-fault party and at the right time, usually determined by the statute of limitations which is the time-frame in which a claimant can legally sue for damages.

Statute of Limitations and Discovery Rule

Applying the statute of limitation is straightforward for normal accidents such as car accidents, slip and falls, and falls from heights because it runs from the date of suffering the injury. However, injuries suffered from exposure to toxic chemicals may be gradual and could take years to show.

Under such circumstances, the discovery rule comes into play. Under the discovery rule, the statute of limitations runs from the day the claimant is diagnosed with an injury or illness linked to exposure to the dangerous chemical.

Compensation as an Employee

If you suffer injuries as an employee, you are eligible to collect workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation operates on a no-fault basis. That means you could be eligible even when the exposure was partly due to your negligence, for example, failure to follow safety protocol.

Under workers’ compensation, you can only recover economic damages such as lost wages, medical bills, cost of therapy, and prescription medicine. The workers’ compensation claims process is pretty straightforward in states like South Carolina, meaning you can navigate it without an attorney.

However, if the harm resulted from your employer’s intentional conduct, you may need to contact a Columbia personal injury lawyer to help you sue them personally for personal injuries. Under such circumstances, you can recover non-economic damages and even punitive damages.

Compensation for Non Employees

If you live near a factory that handles dangerous chemicals and consequently suffer any kind of harm, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against them. Unlike workers’ compensation coverage which limits recoverable damages to economic damages, you can recoup both economic and non-economic injuries through a personal injury lawsuit. Non-economic injuries include pain and suffering, disfigurement, disability, and psychological pain.

If the exposure affects a large group of people, your lawyer can initiate a case for you as a primary person and then accept other victims in this case. This kind of arrangement is referred to as a class-action lawsuit. Once a settlement is reached, the payout is subdivided among class members depending on damages suffered.

Class action lawsuits can be complicated but are an excellent way of cost-sharing when seeking justice. However, it will require working with an injury attorney that has a record of handling similar cases.

If exposure results in death, beneficiaries of the deceased can file a claim for wrongful death. Recoverable damages in a wrongful death claim resulting from toxic chemical exposure can include loss of a source of livelihood, medical costs, funeral costs, grief, loss of companionship, etc.

Personal injury claims are a common type of court case. As the name implies, these types of claims deal with an individual’s injuries resulting from an accident, such as a car accident or on-site job accident.

Personal injury claims aim to provide compensation for an individual’s injuries. Ideally, the compensation should be generous enough so that you are returned to your financial status before the accident, as you may be unlikely to return to your previous physical state.

What Constitutes a Personal Injury Case?

One of the primary components for personal injury claims is that there needs to be an at-fault party. That is, an individual, company, etc., must be directly responsible for your injuries.

If no one is directly or indirectly responsible for your injuries, you are unlikely to receive any compensation or file a claim. This will also be the case if there was no way to predict the chain of events that led to your injuries.

Talk with a personal injury attorney to see whether your circumstances meet the criteria to move forward legally. An attorney will analyze the chain of events and determine if there were at-fault parties, the extent of responsibility they may have for your injuries, and the amount of compensation your injuries are worth.

How Much Are Personal Injury Claims Worth?

Each person’s compensation for a personal injury claim varies according to several factors, such as the extent of the injuries, the amount of responsibility each party bears, and the level of insurance coverage each party has. The amount of compensation differs for each personal injury case because each claim is different.

There are three basic types of damages an individual may be able to claim:

  • Economic Damages — These damages cover an individual’s financial losses, such as medical bills, the cost of medications or therapy, loss of income or future earning potential, and travel expenses to a doctor or physical therapist
  • Non-Economic Damages — These damages cover the pain and suffering an individual experiences from their injuries, such as physical pain or discomfort, temporary or permanent disabilities, and reduced quality of life
  • Punitive Damages — These damages compensate an individual for the other party’s negligence or wrongdoing, such as in the case of an accident that resulted from another driver’s intoxication or impairment

Not every type of damage is applicable for all personal injury cases. Economic and punitive damages may be appropriate for one injury case but irrelevant for another.

Additionally, each state has specific laws surrounding personal injury claims, reducing the compensation you are eligible to receive. This is especially true for comparative fault laws, which reduce an individual’s compensation proportionately to the degree of responsibility that person bears for the accident or their injuries. So if you are at fault for the accident in any way, it will reduce your compensation.

How Do You Provide Proof of Fault?

The burden of proof rests with the plaintiff, typically the injured individual, to prove that the defendant was responsible for the accident that caused the injuries in question. For personal injury cases, the standard is providing enough evidence that it is ‘more likely than not’ that the defendant is responsible.

Proving responsibility is typically tied to negligence. That is, you need to prove:

  1. The defendant was negligent.
  2. That negligence caused an accident or other chain of events that injured you.
  3. You sustained short- or long-term damages because of the injuries.

Evidence to prove negligence varies according to each case. Examples of evidence include police reports, photographs or videos of the accident, statements from eyewitnesses or involved parties, and copies of medical records or testimony from a doctor.

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While it may seem inherent that the marriage and divorce rates in the U.S. tumbled during the pandemic with the courts and wedding venues shut down, a new study from Bowling Green State University indicates the impacts of COVID on American couples were even more significant than predicted.

Bowling Green’s Center for Family and Demographic research analyzed five states that released their monthly marriage and divorce rates from last year: Arizona, Florida, Missouri, New Hampshire, and Oregon.

Analyzing the Data

Florida, the largest state in the study, saw a 33 percent drop in the marriage rate and a 28 percent drop in the divorce rate. Although Florida’s marriage and divorce rate decline was the steepest out of the five states analyzed, researchers at Bowling Green were able to aggregate trends from all five states and apply them on a nationwide scale.

Results from this analysis indicate that 339,917 marriages and 191,053 divorces were either canceled or postponed in 2020. Considering that in 2019 there were around two million marriages and one million divorces, this data depicts that the overall marriage rate dropped by over 15 percent in 2020, with the divorce rate declining by nearly twenty percent, an astonishing figure.

Drawing Conclusions

These results contradict a widespread sentiment amongst researchers and academics during the pandemic. Many believed that the complications and proximity forced upon couples in quarantine would compel many more to divorce.

Furthermore, the marriage and divorce rates did not see a sizable rise once restrictions were minimized in most states at the beginning of the summer, suggesting a lack of pent-up demand from quarantine. While this trend is not valid in every state, as Arizona did see a sizable uptick in marriages and divorces after the spring of 2020, it is clear that United States couples felt overall less inclined to commit to marriage or separation once COVID began.

Evaluating the Cause

Although we hope the reason behind the prolonged drop in marriages and divorce is because couples were, and continue to be, happier after lockdown, this is most likely not the case. Many family law attorneys have identified the financial aspect inherent in marriage and divorce as the reason behind the decline. Attorneys and other professionals in the field claim that practical fiscal responsibility dominated couples’ decision-making under the uncertain conditions of the pandemic, supplanting the desire to throw a wedding reception or file for divorce.

Happy couples were willing to wait until life returned to normal before they had their ceremony. Separating couples wanted to ensure their finances were stable before beginning the resource-draining process of divorce. In both cases, couples felt like they were in limbo, ultimately permitting more time to evaluate their initial decision.

Going Forward

In the future, it appears as though this drop in the marriage and divorce rate will continue, as many Americans have permanently changed their perspective on traditional marriage. Before the pandemic began, marriage and divorce rates had already been declining for years. Considering that in 1980, the divorce rate was 22.6 per 1,000 married women, and in 2019 it was only 15.5 per 1,000 married women, it is clear younger couples have less of a desire to get and stay married.

Previous studies have also shown that younger couples wait longer to tie the knot. Additionally, those who choose to get married are typically more educated and more affluent than the average American. Ultimately, the institution of marriage is under more scrutiny than ever before, as the pandemic exacerbated the already declining occurrence of marriage and divorce.

Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected]

May 1st marked the opening of strawberry picking season!

Most of the patches will be open by mid-May for the month and into early June or until everything is picked! Many of these farms also offer other food and treats, so make the most of your adventure!

  • Messick’s Farm in Bealton, Virginia: Check their Facebook page for updates on the availability of U-pick. They don’t require reservations, but you will have to use their baskets for picking which are $4.99 per pound. While Messick’s has their own custard and availability of treats, you can also make a trip to Moo Thru — an ice cream drive-thru.
  • Wegmeyer Farms in three locations in Hamilton, Aldie and Leesburg, Virginia: They have strawberry picking by appointment, which opens up the night before and fills up fast. Make sure you follow them on Facebook for the most up-to-date information. Don’t miss their donuts! They hope to be open by Sunday.
  • Hidden Gems Farms in Centreville, Virginia: Their strawberry picking will start soon (check the website for opening info) and they’ll have blueberry picking this summer. They also have other activities like playing with goats, plus food like donuts, bread and cheese.
  • Hollin Farms in Delaplane, Virginia: Hollin Farms will open in late May for strawberries and spring vegetables. They have a lot of other fruit throughout the year as well.
  • Butler’s Orchard in Germantown, Maryland: Reserve strawberry picking by appointment later this month. Reservations go live on Sundays and Thursdays at 5 p.m., so keep an eye out on their website! Walk-ins are welcome if there’s availability. Be sure to check their website for more details.
  • Shlagel Farms in Waldorf, Maryland: Shlagel Farms is open now for strawberry picking! They update availability on their Facebook page.
  • Swann Farms in Owings, Maryland: This farm is opening in the next 2 weeks for berry picking now! Check their website for updates.

The preceding sponsored post was also published on FFXnow.com

Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

Peak cherry blossom viewing is underway in D.C., which means lots of visitors and no parking.

If you’re thinking of visiting the blossoms, here are some tips to help make the visit enjoyable and easy.

Go early. Crowds start to form throughout the day, especially on weekends, so early birds get to see the sunrise along with the blossoms.

You can book parking in advance using the SpotHero site. It will tell you the price and distance in advance. Be prepared for traffic though.

You can take the metro, a fun bonus if you have kids who haven’t taken the metro in years or ever due to COVID. You can get off at the Smithsonian or L’Enfant Plaza stops and walk.

Another easy way is to valet park at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. I believe it’s $39 and cash only, but they have an easy access that’s 1 block to the Tidal Basin.

If you’re looking to avoid the crowd, don’t forget that Meadowlark Botanical Garden also has cherry blossoms that bloom a few days after the D.C. ones.

Other events if you’re really into the Cherry Blossom Festival:

Do you have another insider tip? Please share it below!

With March 20 as the first official day of spring, cherry blossom season has arrived (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The preceding sponsored post was also published on FFXnow.com

Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

This is your friendly reminder to take care of your home. Here’s a handy checklist of things I recommend to keep your house humming along smoothly:

Clean your gutters

Clean your windows and screens

Mulch, weed, prune trees

Service your HVAC System

Recommended vendor: Mannix HVAC

Check your chimney (it should have a cap on it which can sometimes blow off if it’s really windy like we’ve had this winter)

Reseal driveway if you have an asphalt driveway

Don’t forget you can always download my free vendor guide if you have other repairs you want fixed!

Photo via CDC/Unsplash

One other thing… if you’re waiting for spring to list your home, don’t. The market is moving very quickly right now for a seller and with more inventory usually coming on the market in April and May, don’t wait. I met with someone this morning to list their home and it’s going to be on the market next week. That’s how fast I can turn it around. The only market we can predict is the one we’re in!

The preceding sponsored post was also published on FFXnow.com

Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

The snow last weekend was not an appreciated visitor in my house. I’m looking forward to those 70 degree days ahead.

If you’re looking to explore a new place to dine, these are my personal favorites for best outdoor dining options. If you disagree, please feel free to comment below!

  • Best Ladies Night Out — Bear Branch Tavern
  • Best Date Night — Clarity
  • Best Family Friendly Spot — Taco Bamba/Mod/Foster’s Grille plaza (even the pickiest eaters can find something)
  • Best Place to Watch a Game — Vienna Inn
  • Best Lunch — The Sandwich Shop
  • Best Breakfast — The Virginian
  • Best Coffee — Tie between Simply Social and Caffe Amouri
  • Best Pizza — PizzaRoni, Tony’s or Santini’s (Oakton nod!)
  • Best Margarita — Mama Tigre
  • Best Causal Meeting Spot — Caboose

We’re lucky in Vienna to have so many good restaurants, but not all of them have outdoor seating unfortunately. So there are plenty of other restaurants that I love, but this is just a focus on outdoor seating options.

What did I miss?

Outdoor dining (Photo via Melissa Walker Horn/Unsplash)

The preceding sponsored post was also published on FFXnow.com

In most states, cyclists must follow the same traffic rules as other road users while on the road. These rules include stopping at a stop sign or a red light.

This requirement will soon be a thing of the past in Colorado when the legislature finalizes work on a bill that aims to allow cyclists to proceed at a red light when the road is clear.

This law is not unique to Colorado. It was first introduced in Idaho, which explains its name, “Idaho law.” Other states such as Arkansas, Oregon, Delaware and Washington, D.C. adopted this rule through house bills that received bipartisan support across the states.

Changes You May Expect

Under “Idaho law,” cyclists must slow down to 10 mph when approaching a stop sign and proceed if the road is clear of vehicles and pedestrians. By passing this law in Colorado, the Senate will negate the need for a cyclist to come to a complete stop as other vehicles do at a red light. However, the cyclist is required to stop for a moment to check if the road is clear before proceeding. If there are pedestrians or vehicles, the cyclist will have to stay put until the road is clear.

While the bill has received much support among lawmakers in the states where this law is operational, some lawmakers still view this bill as dangerous, and that it exposes cyclists to undue danger. According to Rep. Richard Holtorf, the bill is unsafe and called for a staying of laws requiring cyclists to stop as other vehicles do. However, according to Rep. Matt Gray, a supporter of the bill, other states that have adopted this bill would not have done so if the bill was unsafe.

It Is Safe and Inexpensive

Statistics show that the bill does not pose any more danger to cyclists. In the states where this law is operational, statistics do not show an increase in accidents involving cyclists after implementing these laws. Available data shows a reduction in accident rates in those states.

Local campaign groups such as Bicycle Colorado have been the power behind this bill. According to Bicycle Colorado, director of communications Jack Todd, intersections are the most dangerous places for cyclists, pedestrians, and people using wheelchairs. Todd believes that implementing this law will allow cyclists time to get out of the potentially dangerous situation.

Other Cities Consider the Law

In 2015, cycling advocates in London suggested that the city adopt the Idaho model, citing that it was much easier to implement instead of using technology to turn red lights green for cyclists when they approach a red light. The technology involves using radio frequency identification tags attached to the bike. As the bike approaches a red light, the radio frequency communicates with the bike automatically and turns the red light green for the cyclist. London is yet to pass laws allowing cyclists to ride through a red light.

“Regardless of the law, cyclists are safest when they pay attention to their surroundings and maintain a safe speed on the roadway,” says injury lawyer Amy Gaiennie of Amy G Injury Firm. “If the law goes through, bicycle riders should be sure to be extra cautious in intersections and anywhere they may encounter hidden vehicles or pedestrians.”

Even with the creation of these laws, cyclists still remain quite vulnerable while on the road, which calls for extra caution for cyclists while enjoying the privilege. Moving forward, other jurisdictions will have to weigh vulnerability concerns along with the merits of giving cyclists individual discretion in their decisions to ride.

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2021 showed an upward trajectory in the number of homicides in the United States. According to the Council of Criminal Justice report centered on data from 22 major cities, 2021 marked a 5 percent increase from numbers reported in 2020 and 44 percent higher than 2019 numbers.

Most Cities Saw an Increase in Homicides

According to the report, 16 of the 22 cities cited in the survey had increased homicides, with the highest increase being at 108 percent in St. Petersburg and the lowest in Memphis at less than one percent. In the six cities that recorded a drop in homicides, Seattle and Omaha had some of the most notable dips of 25 and 24 percent, respectively.

Despite the uptick in murders in the last two years, these rates are nothing compared to that recorded in the 1990s. Murders in 2021 represented 15 deaths per 100,000 residents, almost half of the rates recorded in 1993 that was at 28 deaths per 10,000 residents.

Factors That Fueled the Uptick

“This elevated number of homicides should be a wake-up call to elected leaders to formulate policies that will help address this problem before it gets out of hand,” says criminal defense lawyer Allen Yates of the Yates and Wheland law firm. According to experts, the high uptick in 2020 could be attributed to the pressures of COVID-19. Following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the increased social disorder across America may also have played a part in fueling the uptick in violent crimes as many cities descended into weeks-long chaos. However, the difference in homicide trends across states indicates that local factors such as policing may also affect the uptick.

The CCJ study also cited the accessibility of legal and illegal guns as a significant factor. According to Dr. Richard Rosenfeld, a University of Missouri’s criminology expert and one of the authors of the CCJ report, the rate of aggravated gun assaults was 8 percent higher in 2021 than the previous year. Gun assaults accounted for a third of all murders committed in 2021.

The FBI, which had mandated to maintain the most comprehensive data on violent crime, has yet to release its 2021 report. According to its 2020 report, murder rates increased by 30 percent in 2020, representing the highest year-to-year uptick since the 1960s, when the federal agency began tracking violent crimes.

Some Crimes Were On a Downward Trend

Not all crimes experienced a surge in 2021, according to the CCJ study. There was a 12 percent dip in drug-related crimes and a decreasing trend in property crimes. Car theft continues to increase, with the study reporting a 14 percent increase from 2020.

The study also took an interest in inflation rates which rose by 7 percent in 2021, the highest rise in one year in nearly 40 years. According to Rosenfeld, there is a correlation between inflation and the crime rate. While the CCJ’s report may not be comprehensive, it paints a clear picture of the status of violent crime in America in 2021 as the nation awaits the more comprehensive FBI report later this year.

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