How Long Will it Take to Receive a Settlement for My Injury Case?

West Virginia Attorney Explains:  How Long will it Take to Settle my Case?

WV Personal Injury Attorney and Legal Malpractice Specialist:

A common question I receive from clients is, “How long will it take for me to get a settlement?” The short answer is, if your injuries are minor, it can take just a few months to get your case settled.  However, if your injuries are severe your injuries and may require extended medical treatment, the longer it will take to settle your injury claim.

Insurance companies particularly require proof of your claim. We have to obtain medical records, employment records, expert reports, and those have to be synthesized and sent to the insurance company with the demand package and that process can take many months even for minor injury claims to resolve.

On the other hand, if your injuries are more serious or even life-threatening, they can take much longer: a year or two is not uncommon.

If you settle your case too early, even a minor injury case, and you find out that you should not have settled it because there were other parts of your injury that you didn’t know about, then you are foreclosed forever from pursuing any additional amounts of recovery because you settled early.

So, it’s best to be patient with the process in order to allow you to work with your attorney to make sure that all of your injuries are well established and documented.  Then, when the claim is sent into the insurance company, the full value of your claim will be considered by the insurance company.

So, always seek good legal advice as to when you should settle your case. Don’t take that decision upon yourself.

“Every good personal injury attorney wants his or her cases to move along towards resolution as expeditiously as possible but, every case is different and you never want to ‘sell a case short’ on value just for the sake of wrapping it up.” Steven M. Sweat, nationally recognized injury attorney.

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What if I already Settled My Case?  Can I get out of it?

For some of you, if you have already settled your case, the information in this post will only reinforce why you may feel so bad right now as you face all the problems that the insurance adjuster did not tell you about . The amount of money sounded good at first, but now that things have not worked out well for you, you have serious second thoughts about settling your case on your own . Let’s take a look at what can be done to address some of your concerns .

The first question you probably are wondering is whether you can get out of the settlement. The answer is, possibly, but only if the settlement was agreed to within 20 days after the auto collision.

West Virginia law allows you to void this settlement, but you must do so within 180 days from the date of the auto collision . If you reached a settlement more than 20 days after the collision, then the settlement is binding and enforceable unless you can prove that the insurance company defrauded you in some manner.

If you have questions about personal injury claims in West Virginia, don’t hesitate to call our office for a free case review:  304.594.1800 or after hours, 304.216.6695.

Visit our website for more answers to commonly asked questions about motor vehicle accident claims, insurance disputes, professional malpractice, and other personal injury claims.

Morgantown, West Virginia Personal Injury Attorney

Jeff Robinette, Morgantown WV Personal Injury Lawyer, Auto Collision Attorney

Author Jeff Robinette, Morgantown WV Personal Injury Attorney, has been designated as a Super Lawyer, National Board Certified Trial Attorney, member of the Multi-million Dollar Advocates Forum, and was recently selected as a Litigator Awards recipient, designating Mr. Robinette as a Top 1% attorney for personal injury and medical malpractice claims in West Virginia.

 

Related Posts:

West Virginia Car Accident Lawyer

Why You Should See a Doctor after a Vehicle Accident.

What To Do After a Car Accident?

Injured In A Car Accident In West Virginia? Know Your Legal Rights!

 

Whiteout Conditions Cause Multi-vehicle Accident on I-81 in West Virginia

One of the beauties of West Virginia is its mountains and high altitudes. It looks like “almost heaven” from the windows of our homes, but once you get out on the roads, it can seem quite the opposite when snow, ice, and foggy conditions make driving treacherous, often causing vehicle wrecks and injuries. We all have pressing obligations which make going out on the roads, no matter how bad the conditions, seem mandatory.

Whiteout causes multi-vehicle accident on I-81Driving hazards are increased exponentially, though, as the temperature drops below freezing and can make even the simplest commute extremely dangerous, causing multiple-car crashes.  A recent example of this was when a snowstorm in late March 2014 caused whiteout conditions in Berkeley County near Martinsburg, WV causing more than 40 vehicles to collide in two separate incidents on Interstate 81 near Falling Waters, West Virginia, killing two people and injuring seven others.

The two fatalities occurred on the northbound lane, and the seven people were injured in the accident on the southbound lane of I-81.  A total of 44 vehicles were involved in this traffic pileup, including several tractor-trailers, and 15 to 20 vehicles were significantly damaged. The injured were taken by helicopters to Berkeley Medical Center in Martinsburg. The vehicles were rerouted to Highway 11, but it was slow going due to the high number of vehicles and people making their morning commute on the interstate.

Challenges and risks unique to the season – which this year has extended much longer than expected — require heightened vigilance, and drivers must adjust their driving to meet the demands of the road.

How to File an Insurance Claim if You have Been Involved in a Multi-car Collision

In a multi-car pileup, fault may be harder to prove because of the multiple vehicles involved. Contact your insurance company right away and provide information about the effects of the accident on your vehicle and your health, and any information you gathered from other drivers at the accident scene. If you have any reason to believe you were injured and haven’t seen a doctor, go immediately.

Sometimes the adrenaline your body produced immediately after the accident can mask symptoms which can later cause you a great deal of pain, and early treatment can eliminate a lot of future medical problems and pain. Often, early intervention with physical therapy can eliminate a need for surgery later – so get a medical opinion right away. Follow all doctor’s orders, document everything, and keep records and receipts from all medical office visits, as well as receipts from all expenses related to the crash.

If you have been severely injured, it is important to your claim for you to keep personal notes about how these injuries are affecting you and your family on a daily basis. If your damages were small and you weren’t seriously injured, chances are you can settle your claim yourself.

If you believe your insurance adjuster has not treated you fairly or considered all the facts and expenses related to your claim, you may need the help of an experienced car accident attorney. Claims adjusters are trained to minimize claims, so to obtain your case’s full value, a strong advocate on your side can be your best asset.

Questions? Call today: 304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695.

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Source: WHSV.com: “2 Killed In I-81 Pileup During Whiteout in W.Va.” March 26, 2014.

Could the Minneapolis Explosion and Fire Have Been Prevented?

Natural gas can be a relatively inexpensive and efficient heating fuel, but the dangers of explosion, fire, and carbon monoxide poisoning which can result in permanent injury or death are safety hazards which must be, and can be, prevented by homeowners and landlords.

Gas Explosion Suspected as Cause of Minneapolis Apartment Fire

Recently in Minneapolis, MN fourteen people were hurt, at least three critically, and two bodies discovered as a result of an explosion and fire that rocked a three-story apartment building in Minneapolis in early January 2014, forcing residents to jump from windows and flee to the streets into subzero temperatures.

By the time firefighters arrived, smoke and 20-foot flames were pouring out of the second and third stories of the building, and residents were jumping out of the windows.

Explosive devices have been ruled out by investigators.  Residents reported a natural gas odor shortly before the explosion, though some investigators deny any natural gas lines running in or near the building.  Other types of gas are also being considered as possible causes for the spark which caused the explosion.

It is horrible to think of all of these people in this mostly Somali neighborhood having to evacuate and lose their homes and possessions in sub-zero weather, reportedly as low as -4˚F with a -24˚F wind-chill, having to run out into ice and snow covered streets to attempt to gain safety for themselves and their children.  Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of this explosion; it is not yet known who or what was at fault.

West Virginia Natural Gas Fatal House Explosion

In October of 2013, a similarly tragic situation occurred in Follansbee, WV, a small town south of Weirton in Brooke County.  A family had recently purchased and was still moving into this home when an explosion likely caused by a natural gas leak obliterated this rural West Virginia home.  Tragically, this violent explosion killed their 13-year-old daughter and seriously injured three others.  The blast was so powerful it shook the entire neighborhood, blew out the windows of a nearby fire station, sent plywood siding rocketing nearly 50 feet into the air, and shot boards through other houses.  Three other houses were damaged – one knocked off its foundation.natural gas explosion in neighborhood

In addition to the fatality, the girl’s parents and a sister were injured and taken to hospitals.  An especially tragic aspect of this story is that half an hour before the explosion, a neighbor had called local authorities to report a possible gas leak.  The fire department responded, but found nothing.  Shortly after they left, the house exploded.

Investigators are trying to determine whether or not the gas leaked in the house from an outside source, or was a leak within the house.  Either way, when the gas reached a high enough concentration, even the most mundane action could have deadly consequences.  Once the concentration is high enough, all it takes is a pilot light or even a light switch being switched on to cause an explosion.

How can you prevent a natural gas explosion from happening in your home?

Explosions such as the ones in West Virginia and Minneapolis are rare, but I advise that homeowners and landlords have an approved maintenance worker check for leaks around stoves, furnaces, and hot water heaters.  Firefighters in every county in WV receive dozens of natural gas related calls each year from homeowners like you.

When purchasing an appliance, look for the UL markup to ensure it has met safety standards, and if you are purchasing a used item, have it checked by a knowledgeable professional.

If you do smell the “rotten egg scent” from the odorant added to natural gas, mercaptan, react quickly and shut off the source if possible, and call a professional or 9-1-1.  If the scent is strong, evacuate the house or building, get a safe distance from it, and call emergency help immediately.  Do not smoke, use a lighter or flashlight, cell phone, turn on a light switch, or use other electronic devices in or near the house.  If possible, turn off the gas from the outside of the home.

Wise homeowners can also install a gas detector to make sure your home and family doesn’t suffer the effects of a natural gas leak.

Homeowners should also have their furnace and water heater exhaust pipes checked regularly for safety to prevent backup and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Landlord’s Obligation for Safety of Rental Property

West Virginia landlords are required to maintain a leased property in a condition that meets requirements of applicable health, fire, and safety housing codes.

Sometimes a natural gas leak 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.

One of the problems that city and county building inspectors face is that many older buildings are not equipped with modern electrical and gas services and alarms throughout the buildings.   These older buildings were “grandfathered in” decades ago when stricter building codes were adopted.

This allows some landlords to do minimal repairs on their buildings, and never comply with current building and safety codes.   However, some cities and counties have required work permits on every kind of repair to certain buildings, and before the permit is granted, an inspection is done and the building is required to come up to code.

Some landlords skirt these requirements by doing the work themselves, under the radar of the city.   When they are caught doing the work without a permit, they risk having their building closed down.     No city or town can keep up on the status of every building.    When a tragedy does strike, there may be significant responsibility on the landlord, and perhaps the building inspectors, for allowing an unsafe building to be occupied.

That’s why you need knowledgeable and skilled lawyers to enforce the rules.   Remember, trial lawyers are for the public’s safety, we enforce the rules when others won’t.

Questions?  Call us today:  304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695.

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 Sources:

Silver, Jonathan, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “West Virginia Girl Killed in Natural Gas Explosion,” October 11, 2013.

Forliti, Amy.  ABC News. “Body of Second Victim Found after Minneapolis Fire.”  January 3, 2014.

Common Sense is Still your Best Defense

OSHA’s tongue-in-cheek April Fool’s day training blog post recommended two free smartphone apps to help you detect whether or not the roads, parking lots, and sidewalks are safe this winter.  Even though black ice is not a laughing matter, your best protection against slip and fall and road accidents is still just good common sense.

OSHA Cold App – Here are the instructions on how to use this App:  Place your smartphone face up on the ground in an open area located outdoors, exposed to the elements. Wait 12 minutes, and then scratch a fingernail over the screen. Then look at the screen; if you see a layer of frost buildup on the screen, very cold weather has been detected. You should immediately take a break and sip some hot chocolate.

OSHA Black Ice Detection App – this is another cold weather-related App, and it helps you detect when a thin layer of hard-to-see “black ice” has built up on sidewalks or pavement, which could lead to a nasty slip and fall. To use this App, follow these instructions:

Place your smartphone flat on its back on top of the sidewalk or pavement. Use one hand (either left or right) to give the phone a shove. If the phone easily slides across the pavement, black ice has been detected, and you should immediately apply some ice-melting compound before walking on the sidewalk or pavement.

All joking aside, did you know that OSHA has declared black ice is the deadliest of all winter driving hazards?

Winter can be a stunningly beautiful season when the snow rests on the trees and the roads are clear as it was in Morgantown this morning.   Driving hazards are increased exponentially, though, as the temperature drops below freezing and can make even the simplest commute extremely dangerous.  Challenges and risks unique to the season require heightened vigilance, and drivers must adjust their driving to meet the demands of the road.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), black ice is the deadliest of all winter driving hazards.  More accurately, black ice is transparent ice without ripples or bubbles which may cause the surface of asphalt shine as if merely wet.  This type of ice can be nearly invisible.  Obviously, if freezing rain is forecast, it is prudent to heed the weather report’s advice to stay home if at all possible.

What is Black Ice?

  • A coating of thin, transparent ice forms on the surface of the road from moisture or airborne exhaust particles when there is a sudden drop in temperature.
  • Black ice forms so quickly that OSHA calls it the deadliest of all winter driving hazards.
  • Black ice is more common at night and early mornings.  Asphalt roads, shaded areas, and bridges are particularly hazardous.
  • Intersections can also be dangerous as spinning tires and vehicle exhaust melt snow which refreezes as an invisible coating.

Warning signs which can indicate road ice hazards:

 ice on mirrorThe most obvious warning sign is the knowledge that the temperature has dropped to freezing or near freezing.  If you aren’t sure, a professional truck driver’s tip is to run your finger down the outer edge of your driver’s side mirror.  If ice is forming on the mirror, you know it is cold enough for ice to form on the roads.  Also, look for shiny patches on the pavement which are slightly darker in color than the surrounding road surface.

Treated roadways may not freeze up right away, but there may still be patches of frozen surfaces on bridges, overpasses, lightly traveled roadways, and untreated road surfaces. These areas can become extremely hazardous very quickly. Construction zones and roadways which change from one surface to another, such as from concrete to asphalt, also are potentially risky areas.

What you can do to minimize hazards from black ice:

  • Braking on black ice can take up to nine times longer than usual, so anticipate braking distance to avoid losing control.
  • Remain calm and do not brake suddenly or make any other sudden movements.
  • Slow down as much as possible while also trying to avoid being rear-ended.
  • Winter tires can reduce braking distance by up to 50% as compared to all-season tires.
  • If you do start to skid, take your foot off gas pedal, shift the transmission into neutral, and look and steer in the direction you wish to go.  Wait until you are well out of a turn before you accelerate.
  • ABS will not help your vehicle stop any shorter, but will prevent your brakes from locking.  If you do not have ABS and feel your wheels locking, release the pressure slightly to avoid locked wheels which will not allow you to change direction.
  • Even the best drivers can lose to ice.  Stay off the roads if at all possible.

In all seriousness, stay in and stay safe!

Submitted by the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC of Morgantown, WV.  Working together to keep your family safe.  If you have questions concerning vehicle collision injuries or insurance issues related to a winter hazard injury, please contact us today at 304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695 or visit our website for the answers you need today.

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Source: “Four Best OSHA-related Safety Apps on the Web – Download Them All for FREE” April 1, 2013:  http://oshatrainingservices.blogspot.com/2013/04/four-best-osha-related-safety-apps-on.html

If you Wait, it May be Too Late…

The following is from the transcript of a live chat our office recently received:

“I was in a car accident 2 years ago.  I have a head injury.  I have to take meds the rest of my life, and still have a knot on my head.  My doctor bills are around $10,000.00.”

“I called the insurance company to try to settle my claim about 2 weeks before the 2 years were up.  I didn’t know 2 years was all I had.  He told me he could not do anything with it until I had a doctor’s release form and to call him after I got it.  Then a week or so later I got a letter saying my case was closed.  When I called him he said they would not pay anything, even though I tried to settle it before the 2 years.”

She waited too long, trusted the adjustor, and now it is too late.

What is the Time Limit for Filing a Personal Injury Claim in West Virginia?gavel and clock

West Virginia law provides that you have two years from the date of the auto collision to take legal action (i.e., file a lawsuit) against responsible individuals and companies, including insurance companies, to seek compensation for the damages (i.e., your injuries and losses) you sustained in the auto collision.

If you do not file a lawsuit within the two-year statute of limitations period, your claim will be forever time barred (visit https://www.mkhlawyers.com/ for more details). Two years may sound like a long time from now, but believe me, it is not when considering all the things that must be done to secure your legal rights against the responsible parties.    Every day that you wait to seek legal counsel equates to a loss of opportunity to obtain full compensation for your injuries.

Don’t miss your only chance for a fair insurance settlement

There are laws that protect you and your family from the consequences of negligent and wrongful behavior of others who caused your injuries and losses.  Your damages, which include your medical and financial losses and obligations, should be paid by the parties responsible for causing your injuries and losses — but they won’t pay, that is, not without a legal battle.

An experienced personal injury lawyer knows how to enforce your legal rights against the wrongdoers that caused your injuries and losses in a fair and professional way to obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

What could happen if I wait to contact a Lawyer?

The first 60 to 90 days following your auto collision can make or break your case.   It is within this shorter time period that necessary evidence and testimony must be secured, treatment rendered and medical opinions obtained.

If you wait until after this time period has passed, and you have not developed your claim properly, it will make the job of even a good lawyer very hard to obtain a full recovery for you.   Worse yet, if you wait until close to the two-year statute of limitations period to consult with a lawyer, it is almost guaranteed that your claim has already been compromised.

You have one chance to gain fair compensation from your auto accident injuries.  Make sure it is done right.

Morgantown WV Injury Lawyers

If you need assistance with an insurance claim regarding a motor vehicle collision, we can help.  Call the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC  today for a free, no obligation consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney:  304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695 or visit our website to find answers to your questions.  You don’t have to handle this alone.

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

Source:  Collision Care — West Virginia Auto Injury Guide by Jeffery Robinette, Word Association Publishers, 2012.

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

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