Workplace Accident: UMWA calls UBB Mine Explosion “Industrial Homicide.”

According to the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), Massey Energy Company was guilty of “industrial homicide” for the deaths of 29 miners in Raleigh County, WV on April 5, 2010.  UMWA President Cecil Roberts presented a report at a press conference in Charleston, WV on October 25, 2011 which concluded that Massey created the conditions for a catastrophic work accident when it did not correct known safety violations, intimidated workers, and disregarded state and federal health and safety regulations.  The UMWA was appointed by MSHA to represent the families’ interests in the investigation.

The UMWA report indicates that Massey valued production over workplace safety by insisting that its miners work in areas with poor ventilation, massive buildup of coal dust, inadequate rock dusting, and water sprayers that were ineffective or missing from the area.  Roberts stated that since the company did nothing to prevent the explosion, that company executives should be held responsible for at least negligence which caused the deaths.

For April 5, 2010 Fox News Report on UBB Disaster:

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Can I fire my lawyer?

It is always best to try to work things out with your own attorney. You may think that because your lawyer hasn’t communicated with you lately there is nothing going on. You may be surprised to learn that a great deal of research and discovery has been conducted on your behalf. If you have reasonable cause to believe that your lawyer really is not doing anything for you, consult with a possible replacement lawyer. You will still owe your initial lawyer fees for any work done on your case and repayment for any charges made on your behalf. If your lawsuit has been filed with the Court, a dismissal order from a judge will be required before your new attorney can begin working for you.

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Wrongful Death in West Virginia: Get the Facts

What is a wrongful death claim?

A wrongful death lawsuit against a workplace, business, or individual is filed when an untimely death is caused by a devastating, catastrophic event like civil or criminal negligence, accident, product failure, or medical malpractice (like in the case of side effects of Xarelto and health-related lawsuits).  A wrongful death has tragic results for family members, children, and dependant parents.  A successful wrongful death claim can ease the financial burden of the surviving family members.

How long do I have to file a wrongful death claim?

A West Virginia wrongful death claim may be filed up to two years after the untimely death.  Two years may seem a long time, but delays in representation allow for the destruction of vital evidence which will affect your claim.  It is important to retain an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.  A wrongful death has tragic economic and psychological implications for family members, children, and dependant parents.  Loving family, friends, and support groups may help you deal with the emotional pain of your loss.  You will also need a lawyer experienced in handling wrongful death claims to aid your family in moving forward from your tragic loss through monetary recovery for the damages your family has suffered.

Who may file a wrongful death claim?

A wrongful death claim may be filed by the deceased’s estate, parents, surviving spouse, and adult and minor children of the deceased parent.

What damages are recoverable in a wrongful death claim?

Some of the damages recoverable in a wrongful death claim are:  medical and funeral expenses, lost future earnings, and loss of relationship (also called consortium).

What types of insurance may be available for compensating a wrongful death claim?

Insurance benefits may include motor vehicle insurance of the at-fault party, business insurance, uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance of the deceased, umbrella policies, funeral benefits, survivor benefits, personal insurance coverage, and personal and business assets of the at-fault party.

What are some factors which may affect the value of a wrongful death claim?

  • The facts of the accident which caused the death:  whether the cause of the accident was egregious or simply a “mistake” will affect the claim’s value.
  • The claim may be worth more if the cause of death is uncontested.
  • The amount of pain, fear, and suffering preceding the death may factor into a wrongful death claim’s value.
  • The number of potential beneficiaries and the age of the deceased:  the value of a claim for a decedent who was married with dependent children will be higher than for an older, single person.
  • The identity of the party who caused the death:  a grandmother who “made a mistake” will be viewed more sympathetically than a multi-million dollar corporation.
  • Insurance coverage:  if the party who caused the accident is uninsured or underinsured, damages may not be recoverable unless that party has substantial personal assets.
  • The personal character and reputation of the deceased will affect how the wrongful death claim is viewed.
  • The experience and reputation of your lawyer:  The insurance companies will be doing everything within their legal power to minimize your claim and avoid paying full compensation.  They will hire or use company lawyers to aggressively fight your claim.  These types of claims are complicated and can be lost on technical or procedural violations.  It is essential for you to hire an attorney who has a reputation for experience and success in handling wrongful death claims.

Submitted by the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, West Virginia Injury Lawyers. Free books and downloads for WV accident victims — Call us today: 304-594-1800 for your free copy of Righting the Wrong: WV Serious Injury Guide; Collision Care: WV Auto Injury Guide; or Beside Still Waters: WV Fatal Injury Guide for Families. We are glad to answer your questions.

righting_the_wrong_3dBeside_Still_Waters_-_Covers_3DCollision Care

Your Workplace Injury – Who is going to pay?

If your employer values cost savings above your safety concerns, you may be facing the devastating choice between placing yourself in harm’s way every day you go to work, or leaving the job that supports you and your family.  No one should be forced to decide between personal safety and food for your family.

Most West Virginians are familiar with Worker’s Compensation Insurance which will cover only a portion of the cost of workplace injuries.  Many do not know, however, that West Virginia has a second avenue for compensation for injured employees.  If your injuries resulted directly from an unsafe conditions of which the employer was aware, a “Deliberate Intent” case can be filed on behalf of the injured employee.

To Prove Deliberate Intent on the part of your employer, you must prove:

  • That a specific unsafe working condition existed in the workplace which presented a high degree of risk and a strong probability of serious injury or death;
  • That the employer had a subjective realization and an appreciation of the existence of such a specific unsafe working condition and of the high degree of risk and the strong probability of serious injury or death presented by the unsafe working condition;
  • That the specific unsafe working condition was a violation of a state or federal safety statute, rule, or regulation, whether cited or not, or of a commonly accepted and well-known safety standard within the industry or business of such employer, which statute, rule, regulation, or standard was specifically applicable to the particular work and working condition involved, as contrasted with a statute, rule, regulation, or standard generally requiring safe workplaces, equipment, or working conditions;
  • That the employer thereafter exposed an employee to such specific unsafe working condition intentionally; and
  • That the employee suffered serious injury or death as a direct and proximate result of such specific unsafe working condition.

W.Va. Code § 23-4-2(c)(2)(ii)

If you are unsure whether or not Deliberate Intent can be proved in your or your loved one’s case, please contact us at, or (304)594-1800.


Pit Bull Attack Statistics – West Virginia

pit bullThree members of a McDowell County, West Virginia family were injured on Sunday, October 9, 2011 in a pit bull attack.  The family pet was chained in the backyard of their Welch, WV home when it broke loose and attacked a three year old girl.  Her grandfather and mother rushed to help the child and were viciously attacked.  The three year old and grandfather suffered serious injuries and the pit bull was put down.

In 2009, a three-day old baby boy in Hardy County, WV was viciously attacked and killed by the family’s pet pit bull.  The pit bull refused to release the newborn infant during the struggle to save the baby.

Devastating events such as these ought to cause West Virginians to reconsider the wisdom in choosing dogs such as the pit bull as family pets.  Typically, 77% of dog injuries are caused by dogs familiar to the victim, and most occur close to, or in, the owner’s home.  Selective breeding practices that emphasize aggression and tenacity in such breeds work to increase these dogs’ negative impact on communities.

Pit Bulls only account for two percent of the dog population, but account for one-third of dog bite fatalities.  Because of Pit Bulls’ record of mauling, serious injuries, and deaths, many countries worldwide ban or regulate ownership of this breed.  Many US cities and towns also have passed legislation restricting ownership and increasing penalties on owners whose dogs are responsible for attacks.

Every forty seconds, someone in the United States seeks attention for a dog bite, approximately 800,000 per year.  Most of the victims are children, and most (77%) are bitten on the face.  In addition to the trauma of having been attacked by a vicious dog, almost $165 million annually is spent treating dog bites.  In 2010, the average cost of a dog bite-related hospital stay was $18,200, approximately 50 percent higher than the average injury-related hospital stay.

West Virginia has a strict liability dog bite statute for dogs running at large, but a one-bite rule under other circumstances.

Dog bites can inflict cuts, lacerations, abrasions, crushing wounds, punctures, fractured bones, infection, and disfiguring scars, especially on the face.  Dog owners have a legal responsibility to control their animals.  In recent years, several owners of these dogs have been criminally prosecuted in homicide cases.  Sadly, many victims of traumatic dog bites go uncompensated and personally incur the full cost of the injury resulting from a dog owner’s negligence.

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Carbon Monoxide Poisoning – Are your children safe?

Approximately 24 children under the age of 14 die from carbon monoxide poisoning each year, with an additional 3,500 emergency room reported injuries, according to the National SAFE KIDS campaign (

Young children are especially vulnerable to the effects of carbon monoxide (CO) and may show symptoms sooner than a healthy adult. Because of their smaller bodies, children process CO differently than adults and may be more severely affected by it.  In addition to death, carbon monoxide can cause severe learning disability, memory loss, and personality changes.

Carbon Monoxide, the Silent Killer

Often called “the silent killer,” Carbon monoxide is an invisible and odorless gas that is produced when burning any fuel, such as gasoline, propane, natural gas, oil, wood, and charcoal.  Carbon monoxide causes illness by decreasing the amount of oxygen present in a person’s body.

CO poisoning can often be mistaken for other illnesses, such as the flu.  The most common symptoms include headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and confusion.  In severe cases, the person may lose consciousness or die.  Often, other people in the place of business or household will exhibit similar symptoms.

To decrease the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in your home, install CO detectors outside every bedroom.  Install the detectors at least 15 feet from a source of CO to eliminate nuisance alarms.  Hardwire detectors if possible, and check every six months.  Do not heat your home or camper with your stove top or use a camp stove, grill,  or generator inside your home or camper.  Do not leave a car or motorcycle running in your garage even if the garage door is open.  Install a CO detector in your boat cabin; CO can accumulate anywhere in or around a boat.  Have your fireplace, stove, and furnace checked regularly by a professional.

Sometimes carbon monoxide poisoning is caused in part by the negligence of a landlord, repair technician, or faulty piece of equipment.  Landlords and professional service technicians are held to the highest standards of accountability for the safety of those they serve.

West Virginia landlords are required to maintain a leased property in a condition that meets requirements of applicable health, fire, and safety housing codes. West Virginia mandates in W.Va. Code Section 29-3-16a that any residence built after 1998 be equipped with carbon monoxide detectors.  The federal government, through the International Residence Code (ICR) 315.2, further mandates carbon monoxide detectors must be installed in any one or two family home that either has a fuel-fired appliance or heating unit , or is attached to a building containing such appliance, if any work is planned for that home that requires a building permit.

If CO poisoning is detected, vacate the area immediately and seek emergency help.  Avoid re-entry until the fire department deems it safe.

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