State Funds for West Virginia Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Victims

Spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries can be devastating, both physically and financially. For some people, insurance will satisfy their needs; for other people, a lawsuit may provide the compensation that they require to take care of themselves. If those two sources are not available, however, there is another place that injured people can turn to in West Virginia.

The West Virginia Traumatic Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Fund was created to help individuals pay for rehabilitation services after suffering serious brain or spinal cord injuries. The stated goal of the fund is to increase opportunities for individuals and help them achieve some measure of independence so they can return to a more productive lifestyle.

More specifically, the fund was set up to assist individuals with obtaining and paying for services such as:

  • Rehabilitation-related therapies
  • Attendant care
  • Home modifications to aid accessibility
  • Necessary medical equipment or medical devices
  • Counseling and support services for individuals and their families

Of course, individuals must meet certain qualifications in order to receive assistance from the fund. For instance, the program is only available to citizens of West   Virginia. In addition, the fund is available as a “payer of last resort,” which means that the fund can only be used for individuals who have been denied insurance benefits and have applied to and been denied by all other agencies that are mandated to provide similar services to injured individuals.

Once someone has been denied benefits from those sources, the board that controls the fund will determine if any other agencies could provide services. If there are no other viable options, the fund can be used to provide services for the injured person.

While this fund provides a type of safety net for individuals who have suffered traumatic brain or spinal cord injuries, the most direct way of achieving the services and compensation you need is still through a lawsuit against the responsible party, or through benefits from your insurance carrier. To find out more about your options, speak with a personal injury lawyer.

If you need help after a serious car or work accident, please visit http://www.robinettelaw.com for articles, resources, and advice or call our office (304)594-1800 for the help you need today.

 

Charleston Rental House Fire Kills Two Adults and Seven Children

Early Saturday, a quick-burning fire in a rental house caused the deaths of nine people, two adults and seven children.  This was one of the most horrific fires in the history of Charleston.  All of the victims likely died of smoke inhalation.

According to West Virginia MetroNews, Charleston Mayor Danny Jones and investigators say the fire moved quickly through the house on Arlington Ave. putting out a lot of smoke. Fire investigators were back at the house on Sunday working to determine the cause of the blaze. The investigation will continue on Monday.

A child, who initially survived the fire, died Sunday at a Charleston hospital when he was taken off life support. His death brings the death toll to nine.  All of the children were no older than eight years old.

Alisha Carter-Camp, also known as Lisa Carter, perished in the blaze at a two story house she rented with her sister Latasha Jones Isabell, 24, on Arlington Avenue in Charleston.

Isabell says she was outside smoking a cigarette at just after 3 a.m. Saturday morning when she noticed the blaze and ran to a neighbor’s house for help.

The fire killed Carter-Camp, her children, Keahna Camp, 8, and Jeremiah Camp, 3. It’s believed they were sleeping upstairs in the house. Another son, Bryan Timothy Camp, 7, was pulled out of the home by firefighters but died Sunday morning.

The blaze also killed Alex Seal, and his twin daughters, Kiki and Gigi, both 3.

Isabell’s two sons also were killed. They are identified as Elijah Scott, 3, and Emanuel Jones, 3.

“When the units came on the scene there was already a fire here. We had one adult female on the outside (Isabell) telling us there were people inside,” Charleston Assistant Fire Chief Bob Sharp said.

The first city fire crews were on the scene within two minutes, but the house was already full of flames and heavy smoke.

Arson Not Suspected in Charleston Fire:

Arson is not primarily suspected as a cause of this fire.  “We haven’t ruled it out. It doesn’t appear to be that way, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not,” Charleston Fire Dept. Lt. Ken Tyree said this weekend.

Sometimes the destruction caused by the flames makes it more difficult for investigators to find out how a particular fire began, but Lt. Tyree says he doesn’t believe that will be the case with this fire.

“It was a fast-burning fire. There’s a lot still intact so we feel confident we’ll be able to do well in the aspect of having an origin and hopefully a cause,” Tyree said.

The fire dept. was getting assistance from the state Fire Marshal’s Office and ATF. A specially trained dog was due on the scene Saturday evening.

Only One Smoke Detector in Rental House:

There were only two smoke detectors in the house. One was reportedly improperly installed under a cabinet and the other was not working.

A building inspector with the City of Charleston planned to inspect the house less than a month ago.

Mayor Danny Jones says the inspection was scheduled for Feb. 28 as part of routine inspections the office does at rental units. He says the inspector had permission from the owner of the Arlington Ave. house, Delores Shamblin. He says Alisha Carter-Camp, one of the adults who lived there, knew about it, but it didn’t happen.

“Had we been able to get in that day and had we seen the fact that they did not have the proper number of smoke detectors, we might have saved a lot of lives,” Jones said.

A criminal investigation is underway.  Landlords have a legal and moral duty to their tenants to maintain a safe living environment in their rental homes.  City code requires rentals to have smoke detectors in every bedroom and in hallways close to bedrooms.

Morgantown Residents Take Note:

Morgantown residents and students need to take note of the horrific destruction and loss of life that can result from fire.  Morgantown police and fire departments reported over 35 intentionally-set street and dumpster fires over St. Patrick’s Day weekend, and three additional fires set last week.  As we see in the case of the Charleston house fire, just one out-of-control fire can cause unimaginable destruction and devastation.

Lt. Tyree of the Charleston Fire Department says there’s a tragic lesson to be learned from the blaze in Charleston. He says residents need to do all they can to prevent a fire.

For more information regarding this fire, please visit http://www.wvmetronews.com.  For information regarding another tragic Charleston wrongful death incident that could have been avoided through use of working detectors, see our previous blog about the carbon monoxide deaths at a Charleston hotel.

Cars of the Future at L.A. Auto Show – New Car Accident Prevention Safety Features

New Cadillac Features Accident Prevention TechnologyAt this year’s L.A. Auto Show, carmakers highlighted safety features that focus on preventing accidents rather than merely surviving them.

Warning indicators for blind spots and rearview cameras have become common, but many manufacturers are taking the technologies a step further.

The additional features act on the safety warnings when a driver fails to do so, said Jeremy Anwyl, chief executive of online auto research firm Edmunds Inc.

“I think they are too easy to ignore,” he said of the warnings. “If your car has a whole series of these different lights flashing and buzzers, it is too much to process in a panic moment.”

Lane Departure Prevention – Cars that Self-Correct Driver Errors:

Infiniti presented one solution with its Infiniti JX, unveiled last week at the auto show. The JX boasts the world’s first backup collision intervention technology. Like existing backup sensors, the system beeps if it detects potential obstacles while the vehicle is in reverse. But now, if the driver does not respond, the system automatically brakes to prevent a collision.

“We initiated this technology in the industry,” said Kyle Bazemore, senior manager of Infiniti product communications. He said Infiniti also pioneered other proactive safety systems.

“We were the first to have lane-departure prevention — if you’re drifting out of your lane, it’ll automatically nudge you back in,” he said. “Also blind-spot intervention — if you move with something in your blind spot it also nudges you back.”

Inflatable Seat Belts and Virtual Bumper Systems:

The new Ford Explorer on display at the auto show also integrates lane-departure technology. In addition, the Explorer features inflatable seat belts — a first in the industry — designed to reduce chest and neck injuries. Other safety options include blind-spot warnings and an automatic parallel-parking system.

“In the industry, the technologies are all already there,” said Cadillac spokesman David Caldwell. “The difference is what you tell these systems to do.”

One way Cadillac’s new XTS adopted these technologies is with its virtual bumper feature.

“For example, in a dark, low-speed place, like a parking garage with columns and pillars,” Caldwell said, “if you’re about to hit something, behind you or in front of you, the virtual bumper will alert the driver and apply full braking up to 25 mph.”

The XTS also offers a collision mitigation braking system that, simply put, understands and interprets the pressure the driver applies to the brake. So if the system feels a panicked stomp, the electronic brakes will intervene and help avoid nearby objects detected by sensors placed around the car.

Increased Air Bag Protection:

The new Scion iQ, the world’s smallest four-seater, has the most airbags in the industry, according to a spokeswoman at the carmaker’s auto show exhibit. The iQadded a rear-window airbag, an industry first, totaling 11 for the compact car.

The Cadillac XTS also added an airbag between the driver and front passenger seat, giving the vehicle a total of 10 airbags.

“It’s about as many as you can add without turning it into a pillow,” Caldwell said.

Airbags aside, Volvo spokesman James Hope summed up what safety means for future cars: “It’s the whole idea of intuitive technology.”

Pedestrian, Animal, and Bicycle Detection Features:

Four U.S. Volvo models currently offer an active pedestrian detection system. The vehicle automatically brakes if the driver does not react to pedestrians detected by the radar. The car fully brakes up to 25 mph.

“What’s coming in the near future for Volvo, we’re talking 2014, is animal detection,” Hope said. “In Sweden, for example, there’s a big problem with elk and moose. The full weight of this animal coming through the windshield can kill occupants.”

The new Cadillac XTS has sensors and cameras that can also detect if cyclists or pedestrians are approaching from the side. The system alerts the driver of this side traffic by vibrating the seat cushion on the corresponding side.

What’s Next?  Cars that Communicate with Each Other for Accident Prevention:

What else is next? Anwyl said there eventually would be technology that enables cars to adapt to surrounding vehicles and prevent potential collisions.

“Cars will be able to communicate so each car knows what to do,” he said. “The technology is here. It’s just a few years off.”

Volvo is among the automakers already thinking in that direction. It’s working on a concept it calls “platooning,” Hope said.

“You have the lead car, and the car behind it drives to the tune of the car ahead,” he said. “This increases efficiency and safety — cars can drive closer together safely.”

The Cadillac XTS already offers a speed-range adaptive cruise control, enabling drivers to set a following distance from the car in front of them. Caldwell said this was a useful bonus for Angelenos driving on crowded freeways in stop-and-go traffic.

“This kind of technology is hugely useful because it doesn’t require that you pay full attention,” Anwyl said. “We are right at the beginning of what I think is going to be a huge wave of these features and it’s really all based on advanced technologies. Computers, processors are all getting to the point now where they can handle a vast amount of information and turn that information around.”

“In the end, it’s about helping the driver see better,” Caldwell said. “We don’t want to take over the driver, but we do want to assist the driver.”

Source:  Rosanna Xia, Los Angeles Times:  rosanna.xia@latimes.com

If you have been injured in a car accident and you need answers, please visit http://www.robinettelaw.com or call one of our accident lawyers at (304)594-1800 today.

Car Wreck on I-79: Rear End Collision of Pontiac and Large Dump Truck

On March 12, 2012, a large dump truck collided with a small, blue Pontiac on I-79 near Morgantown, WV.  The driver of the Pontiac was taken by ambulance to Ruby Memorial Hospital.  The driver of the dump truck did not seek immediate medical attention.  The cause of the accident is unknown, but compare the result of the impact in the images of the Pontiac versus the dump truck.  The extreme difference in the appearance of the two vehicles after the wreck should encourage drivers to buckle up - your car will always be the loser in a collision with a heavy-weight truck.

Images from The Dominion Post, Morgantown, WV

Robinette Legal Group, PLLC: We’re here to help.

If we can be of any further assistance to you, it would be our pleasure to speak with you personally about your injury claim. You may reach us at http://www.robinettelaw.com and http://www.robinettelaw.com/Car-Accident-Injuries/ or call our law office at 1-304-594-1800.

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Update on Texting Bill

The Senate sent the texting bill to the House with texting as a primary offense and talking on a hand-held cell phone a secondary offense.  The WV House voted to make both texting and use of a hand-held cell phone primary offenses with $100, $200, and $500 fines.  In conference committee Saturday evening, the three senators suggested a compromise phasing in the hand-held provision as a primary offense after two years.  The House responded that if the Senate would agree to a one year phase in, they would agree to lower the fines to $100, $200, and $300 for first and subsequent offenses.  When the bill goes to the governor, texting will be a primary offense as of July 1, 2012 and use of a hand-held phone a secondary offense.  Use of a hand-held phone will become a primary offense on July 1, 2013.  Though the governor’s original bill made both offenses secondary, the governor has said he supports the bill as it is and praises it as a measure to make West Virginia roads safer.

WV House Passes Texting Bill

The House passed the texting and hand-held cell phone ban by a vote of 87-12.  All local delegates voted for the bill.  Some opposed to the bill stated that it was either unenforceable or just too much government interference in personal lives.  The bill makes texting and using a hand-held cellphone while driving a primary offense, carrying fines of $100, $200, and $500 for first and subsequent offenses.  Third and subsequent offences would also add three points to your driving license which could lead to a license suspension.  Statistics show that a driver who is texting is four times more likely to cause an accident than a drunk driver and has the reaction time of a seventy year old driver. 

First Energy Found to be at Fault in Death of Employee

In September of 2011, 63-year-old Rivesville man was killed in a workplace accident at the FirstEnergy Harrison Power Station near Lumberport.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ruled the plant’s owner, First Energy, is at fault in the death of one of its employees.

OSHA ruled he died by getting crushed between a moving platform of a Rotary Plow Feeder and a standing guardrail. According to OSHA’s report, First Energy allowed employees to work in an environment where the equipment could cause several fatal injuries.

Officials said First Energy contested the ruling and is now pursuing a settlement with OSHA. (WBOY.com)

A bulk handling operations technician was trapped between a piece of machinery and a guardrail in the coal handling area near 12:30 p.m.  Ned Johnson had worked for FirstEnergy for twenty-five years and for the Harrison Power Station for two years.  This area was closed by the company after the accident.

Although at least three other FirstEnergy employees in Ohio and Pennsylvania have been killed on the job in the last six months, FirstEnergy’s Harrison Power Station is part of a labor department program meant to allow work sites with good safety records to avoid routine Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspections.  This program has been criticized by workplace safety advocates and congressional auditors.  The Harrison Power Station has not been inspected for more than a decade according to the U.S. Department of Labor.  The Harrison Power Plant was last inspected in July of 2000 and cited with two minor violations.

Operators of heavy construction and industrial equipment face some of the most dangerous work conditions in America. When a piece of equipment fails, bringing a machine that can weigh multiple tons or more to an emergency stop is often impossible. Operators behind the wheel or working near the equipment are at the mercy of unstoppable mass and energy.

For more information about workplace accidents  please visit us at http://www.robinettelaw.com or call 304-594-1800

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What About the Other Guy? Top Five Defensive Driving Tips

Driving is the most dangerous activity we engage in daily.  You know this, so you wear your seatbelt, don’t speed, and never drive drunk or text while driving.  You check for side effects of your medications and get enough sleep before driving so that you won’t be impaired by drowsiness.  What about the other guy? How can you manage the risks from other road users?  Here are five tips to help you stay safe.

1.  Pay close attention to your surroundings to spot driving behaviors that can signal trouble.  A driver who suddenly slows down, appears to be wandering, or is weaving may be impaired by any one of the above factors.

2.  Drop back, get out of the way, and call the police after pulling over if you suspect a serious problem.

3.  Watch also for speeding, tailgating, rolling past stop signs, hard breaking, cutting off other vehicles, and failure to yield the right of way.

4.  If someone cuts you off, resist the urge to “teach him a lesson.”  Just let it go.  Avoid honking, making eye contact, or gesturing in such a way that the situation might become escalated.  Never let an aggressive driver add to your own risk.

5.  Use turn signals to communicate your intentions to other drivers, make gradual lane changes, and keep a safe distance between vehicles.  Keep yourself fully engaged in the task of driving – you have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

Tips based on an article by Wayne Northey, President, AAA of West Virginia

Teen Banned From Driving For Life

A Rhode Island judge wanted to send a clear message to young people that he will not tolerate drunk and reckless driving in his home state.  Chief Magistrate William Guglietta of the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal has handed out the harshest possible sentence to a 17-year-old after he crashed into a tree while DUI last October.  The driver and three teenage passengers were fortunate to escape with their lives, but a 16-year-old male passenger was in a coma for weeks following the accident.  All four teens had been drinking alcohol at a party just before the wreck.

The judge poured over photos of the wreckage before handing out the sentence that the driver of the car is banned from driving in the State of Rhode Island for the rest of his life.  Judge Gugietta told news station KABC, “If you are going to drive dangerously in Rhode Island and you’re a young person, this court is going to respond accordingly.  The law in this case allows this court to impose that penalty.  If they think more stringent penalties are important for drunk driving, then I’m assuming at some point in time, those issues will be raised with the legislature.”

In addition to the DUI charge, the 17-year-old driver pled no contest to speeding, violating seat belt laws, and illegal passing.  Charges concerning violation of a graduated driver’s license, of having more passengers than allowed, being out past curfew, leaving the lane of travel, and failure to maintain control of the vehicle were dropped.

For information about obtaining legal help after having been a victim of someone else’s recklessness or inattention while driving, visit us at http://www.robinettelaw.com or call our car accident lawyers at 304-594-1800 for help today.

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Deadly Infection Lurks in Nail Salons

Many women treat themselves with a pedicure as a reward for a hard week of work, but according to AOL news, Nancy Swanson got a lot more than she bargained for at her local nail salon.  Nancy began to experience flu-like symptoms and then noticed that her skin had started to take on a yellow appearance.  She became so ill that she felt close to death and sought a doctor’s opinion.  Her medical providers found that she had contracted Hepatitis B, an incurable liver disease. 

Since thousands of Vietnamese are employed in U.S. nail salons, Dr. Robert Gish of UC San Diego has written a health policy for the Vietnamese government outlining the risks associated with Hepatitis B.  People can be carriers of Hepatitis B without presenting any symptoms and are capable of infecting others.  

To protect yourself from infection, look for a prominently displayed business license, make sure all clippers and scissors are disinfected properly and only disposable nail files are used.  For extra protection, take your own polish to the salon.  Also keep in mind that the whirlpool jets and drains of the foot tub are places where the deadly bacteria can lurk.

For more information about personal injury claims, visit us at http://www.robinettelaw.com or call 304-594-1800.  For 24 hour help, call 304-216-6695.

 

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