Ruptured Airline Injures Gas Well Worker in Harrison County WV

Salem, WV:  A gas well worker employed by J and A Service was injured after a high pressure airline ruptured at an Antero natural gas well site in Harrison County near Salem just before on Dog Run Road on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013.  The worker was injured when he was pressure testing a line containing compressed air.

The employee was knocked back 20 feet and struck his head on some materials. Gas well workers were preparing to put a well online when they performed a pressure test on the well, a standard procedure before moving into the production phase, when the test failed and caused a burst of gas to knock a worker back 20 feet.  Firefighters said the worker was alert and talking with them when they arrived at the scene and was flown by helicopter to a local hospital, treated, and released.  A company spokesman said that it appeared that part of the pipeline failed, and that the company has voluntarily halted all activity at the site.

Three other workers were injured, including a man who tried to leave the area following the burst of gas, and tripped and fell, causing him to knock out a few teeth. He was also treated and released, and the two other men were treated on site for minor injuries.

Legal Insight for Gas Well Injury Claims

West Virginia workers have had a long-standing tradition of persevering and working hard in spite of dangerous and exhausting conditions.  As the oil and gas drilling industry grows, an increasing number of workers are experiencing accidents resulting in serious permanent injuries and wrongful death.  Many injured workers think that their financial damages for medical bills and lost earnings are limited to West Virginia workers’ compensation benefits.

In most cases, a worker who is injured on the job will be able to receive some benefits from a Worker’s Compensation claim.  In West Virginia, if employer is found to have intentionally placed their employee in harm’s way, resulting in serious injury or death, that employee may qualify to file a claim against the employer’s insurance company.

Workers’ compensation laws say that you cannot hold your employer accountable for damages above the amount of benefits paid by the workers’ comp insurance unless you can prove the employer acted with “deliberate intent.”

In many workplace injury and wrongful death cases, however, there may also be a third party who can be held liable for negligence. The third party can include the manufacturer of a piece of defective industrial equipment, the property owner or a subcontractor working on the same job site.

If you or your loved one has been injured due to negligence or willful violation of safety regulations in the workplace, it is important to act quickly to protect your claim.  Mr. Robinette has handled hundreds of cases involving serious injury and wrongful death and can provide the insight you need right now.  Call Jeff Robinette today for a free evaluation of your case at 304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695 or visit our website for more information.

We are glad to provide free books and information for WV accident victims: Collision Care: West Virginia Auto Collision Guide, and Righting the Wrong, West Virginia Serious Injury Guide:  304-594-1800.

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Source:  The Exponent-Telegram, “Gas Well Worker Remains in Morgantown Hospital,” by Darlene Taylor-Morgan, September 29, 2013, http://www.exponent-telegram.com/gas-well-worker-remains-in-morgantown-hospital/article_9455b840-295f-11e3-a2ab-001a4bcf887a.html

How Do Court Reporters Keep Straight Faces?

court reporter funnyThese excerpts are from a book called Disorder in the American Courts and are things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and published by court reporters who had the torment of staying calm while the exchanges were taking place.

Which one is your favorite?

ATTORNEY: How old is your son, the one living with you?
WITNESS: Thirty-eight or thirty-five, I can’t remember which.
ATTORNEY: How long has he lived with you?
WITNESS: Forty-five years.
__________________________________________

ATTORNEY: What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?
WITNESS: Gucci sweats and Reeboks.
__________________________________________
ATTORNEY: What is your date of birth?
WITNESS: July 18th.
ATTORNEY: What year?
WITNESS: Every year.
___________________________________

ATTORNEY: Now doctor, isn’t it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn’t know about it until the next morning?
WITNESS: Did you actually pass the bar exam?
__________________________________

ATTORNEY: The youngest son, the 20-year-old, how old is he?
WITNESS: He’s 20, much like your IQ.
_________________________________________

ATTORNEY: She had three children, right?
WITNESS: Yes.
ATTORNEY: How many were boys?
WITNESS: None.
ATTORNEY: Were there any girls?
WITNESS: Your Honor, I think I need a different attorney. Can I get a new attorney?
__________________________________________
ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated?
WITNESS: By death..
ATTORNEY: And by whose death was it terminated?
WITNESS: Take a guess.
_________________________________________

ATTORNEY: Can you describe the individual?
WITNESS: He was about medium height and had a beard
ATTORNEY: Was this a male or a female?
WITNESS: Unless the Circus was in town I’m going with male.
___________________________________
ATTORNEY: Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?
WITNESS: No, this is how I dress when I go to work.
____________________________________
ATTORNEY: Doctor , how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?
WITNESS: All of them. The live ones put up too much of a fight.
_______________________________________
ATTORNEY: ALL your responses MUST be oral, OK? What school did you go to?
WITNESS: Oral…
_______________________________________
ATTORNEY: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?
WITNESS: The autopsy started around 8:30 PM
ATTORNEY: And Mr. Denton was dead at the time?
WITNESS: If not, he was by the time I finished.
__________________________________________
ATTORNEY: Are you qualified to give a urine sample?
WITNESS: Are you qualified to ask that question?
____________________________________
And last:

ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
WITNESS: No.
ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?
WITNESS: No.
ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?
WITNESS: No..
ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
WITNESS: No.
ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY: I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law.

I hope this adds a smile to your day.

Source:  Disorder in the Court:  Great Fractured Moments in Courtroom History, by Charles M. Sevilla, WW Norton & Company, NY, 1992.

Why Settling your Own Injury Claim is a Dead End

dead end signWhy Shouldn’t I Handle my Injury Insurance Claim Myself?

As a former defense lawyer, I have witnessed some people who have attempted to handle their own personal injury cases. Without exception, their cases were either thrown out of court or ended in an unfavorable way.

Some injury claims are so small they may not require legal representation, but my best recommendation as a former insurance defense lawyer is if you have suffered serious injuries from a collision, you need to promptly seek advice from an excellent personal injury lawyer.

An experienced trial lawyer whose focus is auto injury litigation knows how to preserve all your legal rights, not just some of them, against the attempts of the insurance adjuster and their defense attorneys to defeat or minimize your claim.

What Will a Personal Injury Lawyer do for Me?

A few people, though, may still think about handling their own serious injury case. They reason that if they get into trouble doing so — no big deal. If they run into trouble, they’ll just call a lawyer then to bail them out. They figure the risk of messing things up is worth the chance to avoid paying legal fees. When they find out, however, all the work required of trial lawyers, they generally have second thoughts. Among the many other things that trial lawyers have to do, they will have to:

  • Conduct a proper scene investigation without missing or destroying evidence.
  • Locate all the fact witnesses and obtain their sworn statements and affidavits.
  • Locate all the parties responsible for causing their injuries and damages.
  • Locate all the insurance coverage potentially covering their injuries and damages.
  • Argue and litigate insurance coverage disputes with the insurance companies simultaneously with preparing the personal injury case.
  • File a proper lawsuit, naming only the correct parties and claims in order to avoid monetary sanctions for filing improper lawsuits.
  • Respond to the defendants’ defenses and motions to dismiss the lawsuit.
  • Prepare written discovery to the defendants, requesting appropriate information about the claim and the defenses.
  • Prepare all the plaintiff’s witnesses for deposition and trial testimony.
  • Prepare for and conduct cross-examinations of all the defense witnesses.
  • Conduct legal research and write legal briefs on key issues in the case.
  • Prepare a Pre-trial Memorandum to the trial court judge addressing all legal and factual issues to be tried by the court.
  • Represent their client in court proceedings on all pre-trial issues.
  • Prepare the personal injury case for trial, including the preparation of legal arguments, entry of evidence, and witness testimony.
  • Conduct a jury trial of their case following complex trial court rules and evidentiary rules, and file post-trial motions.

For those few individuals who may still want to handle their own case, I would like to also point out that they will need to be prepared to file an appeal to reverse the bad result that is almost certain to occur.

How the Insurance Companies have Changed How they Value Claims

Insight from Florida Personal Injury colleague Tina Willis:  “In the days of old, insurance companies believed that they would get more customers if they paid claims promptly and fairly.  In other words, they believed good customer service would drive more people back to them, and therefore raise their profits. In the mid-1990′s, according to this Huffington Post article, a consulting giant named McKinsey & Company convinced Allstate and other major insurance companies that they had a better way.  In short, they encouraged and ultimately convinced leading insurance companies to rely more heavily on computers, which, unlike human adjusters using their own judgment and general human compassion, would produce purposefully low offers to claimants.  If customers or non-customers entitled to coverage did not want to accept these ridiculous, low ball offers, they were intentionally subjected to varying delay and frustration tactics.”

West Virginia Personal Injury Lawyers

Chances are this is the first serious accident and recovery you have had to manage, but a lawyer whose focus is auto accident law has handled hundreds of claims for injured people.

A skilled advocate will ensure you are not taken advantage of by the complexities of the insurance claim process and will receive the compensation due to you.

Retaining an attorney adds credibility to a client’s threat to file suit, to pursue a claim to trial, and to negotiate a larger payment. Thus, a client gains more experience, more knowledge, and more negotiating credibility and power in dealing with the insurance industry.  You only get one chance to do this right.

Source:  Righting the Wrong — West Virginia Serious Injury Guide by Jeffery Robinette, Word Association Publishers, 2012.

Jeff Robinette, WV Insurance Attorney

If you or your loved one has been injured, it is important to act quickly to protect your claim in order to gain the compensation needed to help you move forward with your recovery and your life.  Mr. Robinette has handled hundreds of cases involving serious injury and wrongful death and can provide the insight you need right now.

If you have questions, call Jeff Robinette today at 304-594-1800, or after hours 304-216-6695.  You may also visit our website to find the answers you need today.  You don’t have to handle this alone.

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For more information, see our free report “Why the Insurance Company Doesn’t Want You to Hire a Lawyer.”

Additional information on this important subject:  “Never Deal with any Insurance Company without an Attorney” by Tina Willis, September 28th, 2013.

What if I was Partly at Fault for the Accident?

Q.  What is Comparative Fault in an Accident Case?

A.  In order for you to pursue a liability claim against someone else for your injuries, the cause of your injuries must have been predominately caused by their conduct, and not your own. For instance, if you were severely injured in an auto collision, and your driving merely contributed in some small way (e.g., you were traveling 60 mph in a 55 mph speed zone), you will not likely be foreclosed from pursuing your injury claim against the other at-fault driver.

However, the percentage of your own fault (called “comparative fault”) will reduce your compensation by the same percentage of fault you contributed to causing the auto collision. So, if you are found by a jury to have been 20% at fault in causing the auto collision, your compensation will be reduced by 20% of the total verdict.

 How the Insurance Company will Use Comparative Fault

Insurance adjusters exaggerate the impact of your conduct—like going 5mph over the speed limit—as a basis to substantially reduce the value of your injury claim. The same result occurs in construction injury or coal mine injury cases, where the adjuster exaggerates the impact of the employee’s conduct to show that the injuries would not have occurred if the employee had followed safe work practices.

 When “Who was at Fault?” is an Issue, You Need a Strong Advocate on Your Side

While the law permits your own comparative fault to be as high as 49%, the closer your own fault gets to this maximum percentage, the less you will be compensated, and you run the risk that you will be completely foreclosed from recovering anything at all. If your fault equates to 50%, then you will be foreclosed from any recovery or compensation for your injuries. For instance, if a construction worker decides to remove his safety equipment in violation of safety rules, and is injured, it is likely that the worker’s conduct will be viewed as a significant contributing factor to his own injuries.

The law and jurors take a dim view of parties whose own conduct significantly contributes to their own injuries. Be aware that insurance adjusters try to craft reasons why your alleged negligent conduct equaled or exceeded that of their own insured, which has the end result of you receiving little to nothing in settlement of your injury claim, which is why it is essential you have a skilled personal injury attorney on your side fighting for you.

Morgantown WV Personal Injury Lawyers

The Robinette Legal Group is ready to stand up and fight for your rights to pursue full and fair money damages after a wrokplace injury or motor vehicle accident.  You can try to file an insurance claim yourself, but there are some important things you will come to realize over time. The insurance company isn’t interested in protecting your rights and they will minimize the value of your injuries and your financial losses. That’s why having an experienced trial attorney from our firm is so important. We have years of experience handling personal injury cases, as both defense lawyers and on behalf of injury victims.

Jeff Robinette at the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC is glad to answer questions about work injury and auto accident claims.  Call today:  304-594-1800 or 24 hour line:  304-216-6695.

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School Bus Accident in Monongalia County

Van rear-ends school bus on Canyon Road near Morgantown, Injuring Two Children

school bus accidentAccording to the Monongalia County Sheriff’s Department, two children were taken by ambulance from a Tuesday afternoon accident in which a minivan hit a school bus on Canyon Road on September 17th, 2013.

The bus driver had 46 kids on board. The bus departed Mountaineer Middle School and was stopped on Canyon Road when the accident occurred.  The driver said she had all of the bus’s normal caution lights on and the airbrake engaged.   “I thought I dropped my transmission,” the bus driver said, describing the impact. “Then I saw a plume of smoke come up behind the bus and the kids yelled.”  The van was partially lodged under the rear of the bus.

The children heard a large bump and said they thought the driver had just slammed on her brakes.  Those seated were not injured, but the two children who were injured were standing at the time of the impact.

No citations were issued at the accident scene; the accident is still under investigation.

The two injured children were taken to the hospital for medical evaluation, but thankfullly it seems that no one was seriously or sustained permanent injuries (although if is your child who is on the school bus, any bus accident is a serious matter).

What you need to know about School Bus Safety

  • It is illegal to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.
  • Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign arm signals to motorists that the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off the bus.
  • All 50 states require that traffic in both directions stop on undivided roadways when students are entering or exiting a school bus.
  • In all cases, traffic behind the school bus (traveling in the same direction) must stop.
  • The area 10 feet around a school bus is where children are in the most danger of being hit. Stop your car far enough from the bus to allow children the necessary space to safely enter and exit the bus.
  • Be alert. Children are unpredictable. Children walking to or from their bus are usually very comfortable with their surroundings. This makes them more likely to take risks, ignore hazards or fail to look both ways when crossing the street.
  • Never pass a school bus on the right. It is illegal and could have tragic consequences.

It is up to us to keep the kids safe – so please be careful!

Morgantown Accident Attorneys

Information provided by the Morgantown WV accident attorneys at the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC.  Prevention is always better than the cure.  Look alert for school buses and pedestrians, and let’s work together to prevent accidents.  If you have a question about accidents, call us today at 304-594-1800 or after hours 304-216-6695.

For more information see: The Dominion Post, “Van Hits School Bus; Two Children Injured,” by Ben Conley, September 18, 2013, http://www.dominionpost.com

Look Alert: Second Pedestrian Fatality in Morgantown in a Month

Morgantown Police are investigating and fatal hit and run accident that happened early in the morning on September 15, 2013.  Police continue to search for the vehicle and driver which killed this student pedestrian on Patteson Drive in an area between Krepps Park and Arby’s.

According to a Morgantown Police Department news release, a vehicle was traveling east on Patteson Drive when it struck a pedestrian in the roadway. The vehicle then fled the scene.

Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to call the Morgantown Police Department at (304) 284-7522.

Second Fatal Pedestrian Accident in Morgantown within a Month

The incident marks the second pedestrian hit and killed by a vehicle in the past 30 days in Morgantown. On Aug. 20, a man was driving along South High Street when he struck and killed an elderly Morgantown gentleman as he was attempting to cross the street.

Local Morgantown drivers need to stay alert and be aware, especially at night when visibility is diminished, for the sake of pedestrians crossing streets, especially downtown on High and Spruce Streets, and along Van Voorhis Road, Chestnut Ridge Road, and Patteson Drive.

Hit and Run Drivers Need to be Prosecuted to the Fullest Extent of the Law

Car accidents are sometimes understandable mistakes or are simply unavoidable. But as soon as drivers flee the scene in order to avoid responsibility, the accident becomes a crime. In cases like this one, families often file wrongful death lawsuits against hit-and-run drivers in addition to criminal charges.

We need to send a message to hit-and-run drivers which is:  you will be caught, and you will be prosecuted, so don’t make matters worse for yourself or anyone else involved.

Source:  The Dominion Post, “Student Killed in hit-and-run” by Alex Lang, September 16, 2013, http://www.dominionpost.com

What if a Police Officer Caused my Injury?

police state trooper cruiserWe all understand the need to call the sheriff, city police, or state police if we are involved in a serious accident on a motorcycle, or while driving a car, or truck.*  But, who do you call and what can you do if the collision was caused by a local police officer or WV state trooper?

Every year accidents and injury are caused by police officers while in the line of duty.  In a recent West Virginia auto collision, a motorcyclist was clipped by a police cruiser in pursuit of another motorist, causing substantial injury to the rider.

It was an unintended collision, and the policeman was just doing his job, but this injured biker now is suffering from injuries, medical bills, lost wages, and may be facing surgery and therapy in the future to gain a more full recovery after the accident.  This is all going to be very expensive.  Who is going to pay?

Can I sue a police officer, police department, state agency, or city for damages?

Even if the police officer was on-duty, the standard of care the officer must abide by is the same as any other citizen, except when the officer is in pursuit of another individual.  In the latter circumstance, the rules for the operation of his motor vehicle change to allow him to exceed posted speed limits and the like.  However, the officer is not permitted to disregard the safety of other motorists.

When a public employee causes a motor vehicle collision, there are special laws that govern the liability of the State and political subdivisions. Generally, state agencies such as the Department of Highways are immune from civil lawsuits except in certain circumstances. When a public agency or political subdivision can be sued, the claim is limited to a modest insurance coverage limit. When a police officer causes a collision, it must be determined whether the police department is insured under the State policy. So, an officer can be sued, but there will likely be a limit of insurance coverage available.

What type of damages can be recovered after a car or motorcycle accident?

Accident victims can be compensated for economic damages: actual dollar losses such as medical bills, lost wages, and lost future income earning ability. Pain, suffering, humiliation, loss of enjoyment of life, and grief over the loss of a loved one are some of the non-economic losses for which a person may receive compensation. Punitive damages are also awarded in rare cases which serve to punish a defendant for extreme negligence and serve to deter future similar conduct by that defendant and others (such as in a NC case where the police officer caused a collision due to road rage incident).

Recently another lawsuit was filed in WV wherein a man is suing the West Virginia State Police for injuries he sustained in a car accident caused by one of its state troopers.

A West Virginia State Trooper negligently struck the front left side of the plaintiff’s vehicle and caused him to veer off the road and strike an electric pole.  The plaintiff claims as a result of the defendant’s negligence and carelessness, he sustained damages and injuries, including broken ribs, a permanent back injury, medical expenses, loss of earning capacity and loss of enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering.

In Indiana, top-tier personal injury attorney William Hurst has been involved in many cases where a police officer’s negligence caused a motor vehicle accident, killing or seriously injuring a client or client’s family member.  In his blog, he outlines the special difficulties in bringing suit against police officers such as partial “waivers” of the sovereign immunity to allow the State, Cities, etc. to be sued for personal injury when their employees caused injury but have imposed restrictions and limitations as who can be sued and what an injured party can recover.

West Virginia Personal Injury Attorneys

Because of the complexity involved in crashes directly involving police vehicles, it is imperative you contact an experienced personal injury attorney to find all applicable insurance coverage and have an advocate on your side to fight for your right to compensation for your injuries.

If you have questions about a West Virginia road incident, Attorney Jeff Robinette would be glad to answer your questions.  Call today:  304-594-1800 or after hours 304-216-6695.

* West Virginia accident law states the driver of a vehicle involved in a crash resulting in injury to or death of any person or total property damage to an apparent extent of $1,000 or more shall immediately by the quickest means of communication, give notice of such crash to the local police department if such crash occurs within a municipality, otherwise to the office of the county sheriff or the nearest office of the West Virginia State Police.

Harrison County Head On Collision

healthnet helicopterFive people were injured on September 10, 2013 in a head-on collision in Harrison County.  One man was flown to the hospital and three others were taken to United Hospital Center by ambulance.  The fifth man drove himself to the hospital.  The site of the accident near the intersection of Routes 18 and 19 near Hepzibah, WV.

West Virginia State Police said a man was driving towards Clarksburg at about 6:00 p.m. when a Ford Escape crossed the center line and struck a minivan head on.  The man driving a Chrysler Town & County minivan attempted to prevent the accident, according to police.

HealthNet landed at the Gore Transitional School to transport the victim. HealthNet flew a male passenger, who was in the Ford Escape, to Ruby Memorial Hospital, according to state police.  His name and condition are not being released at this time.

All three who were in the Ford Escape were taken by Harrison County EMS ambulance to United Hospital Center.  Their present health conditions are unknown.

Police say drugs or alcohol were not factors in the crash, but other charges are pending.

A Personal Injury Lawyer’s Advice for Medical Treatment after a Car Accident

As the victims of this car/van accident wisely realized, it is critical to seek prompt and appropriate medical treatment after a collision. Following the initial treatment, don’t allow any interruption in your treatment without a good reason until fully recovered.

Keep in mind that if you intend to file an insurance claim to recover for your medical expenses, lost wages, and future expenses related to the accident, if you skip appointments or fail to follow through with prescribed treatments, the insurance company and their defense lawyers will argue that you must have felt that you were fully recovered from your injuries and had no need of continued treatment or compensation.

Additionally, much of the work that was done by insurance adjusters to evaluate claims in the past is now done by computers. If the required documentation is not entered into the computer in language and codes the program understands, the program will not properly evaluate your injury and may deny the compensation due to you. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney will know how to present the medical evidence the computers are designed to recognize.

Morgantown WV Auto Accident Attorneys

If you have questions regarding a car accident claim, call the Robinette Legal Group today and ask to speak to Jeff Robinette, a former insurance defense attorney, who can advise you on the best course for you to take in dealing with the insurance companies.  Call 304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695 today, or visit our Legal Advice website and click on Find Answers to your Questions.

Jeff Robinette

304-594-1800

jrobinette@labs.net,

http://www.robinettelaw.com