Sanitation Worker Killed by Tree Limb

In May 2013, a sanitation worker collecting trash in an alley in Moundsville, West Virginia, was killed when a broken limb fell from a tree and struck him in the head as he was collecting trash.

The limb was apparently damaged in a recent storm; it is unclear whether the truck struck the branch.  The worker suffered a massive head injury and was transported to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

This was called a “freak” accident, but legally, could there have been any premises liability for this fatal injury?

How Healthy are Your Trees?  Danger Signs:

tree fall in parkBroken branches (called “widow makers” by arborists)

Weak branch unions

Old wounds

Ooze or fungus indicating decay

Sharp bends

Excessive pruning

Cracks

Cavity indicating advanced decay

As a home and property owner, you have a legal duty to keep your family and neighbors safe from tree hazards as much as it depends on you.  This list is not all-inclusive, so if you have any doubt about the soundness of the trees on your property, hire a specialist to inspect and evaluate safety issues.

How to Identify Tree Risks on your Property

Tree owners are not expected to have the expertise of a certified arborist in evaluating tree risk, but there are common defects and situations for which a tree owner may be held responsible as a “reasonable person” in the eyes of the law.

A hazard tree is one that has both a defect that may cause it to break apart or blow over prematurely and a target that could be damaged if the tree were to fail. A tree that has dead branches overhanging a sidewalk or street is a hazard because the dead branches may break off, striking a car or pedestrian. Without a potential target, a tree cannot be considered hazardous. Targets include houses, cars, outdoor decks, and, of course, people.

We recommend that private tree owners should inspect their trees twice annually: when the leaves are on the tree (spring and summer) and, for deciduous species, when the leaves are off the trees (late fall and winter).

Tree owners should also inspect their trees after severe wind events and storms. This is important because strong winds frequently cause tree damage such as broken branches, and cracks in the trunk.

Checking trees immediately following storms will help reduce the risk of defects becoming more severe and subsequently causing personal injury or property damage

Traditional Standard for Tree Owner Liability

The liability United States tree owners face from hazardous trees on their private properties has and continues to undergo a transformation.

The traditional common law legal test focused upon whether a tree owner had acted to create a hazardous condition on the property. When a tree owner did not act to create a hazardous condition on his or her property, the law did not hold the tree owner responsible for tree accidents. Essentially the law would not impose liability for the tree owner’s failure to act to remedy a natural hazard.

Only in cases where the tree owner had in some way acted to create or increase the risk of harm would liability attach to the tree owner. For example, removing a portion of a stand of trees, thus leaving the remainder susceptible to wind throw could be an example where a human act created a potentially dangerous tree situation.

Modern Trend for Dangerous Tree Litigation

Legal liability for private tree owners by structurally deficient trees or tree limbs has been undergoing a legal evolution over the last four decades.

The modern trend is towards a test that imposes greater responsibility and greater uncertainty on tree owners and arborists.

Abandoning the natural/artificial distinction, the modern test, adopted in half the U.S. jurisdictions, imposes general principles of negligence on tree owners.

Courts in each of the “modern” U.S. jurisdictions, however, have ruled in falling tree and tree-related cases that tree owners owe a duty to both passersby and other property owners to prevent harm to them from potentially dangerous objects on their properties.

The direction in which the trend appears to be proceeding raises the stakes for tree owners. Whereas immunity from legal liability may have previously existed, such liability can now more easily result from a tree owner’s actions or failure to act. The responsibilities of individual tree owners, particularly in urban areas, have increased in many states, and nothing suggests that the trend will abate.

Since the U.S. legal trend is clearly toward greater liability for hazardous trees, this warrants paying closer attention to the condition of one’s trees more than ever before.

Example of a Tree Liability Case

An example in the state of South Carolina was a lawsuit involving a decayed tree limb which fell onto an adjoining property owner’s land, striking and destroying an occupied automobile and injuring its occupant.

The tree owner argued that the law did not impose any duty of inspection on a tree whose limbs happened to overhang an adjoining business property.  The court did not agree, determining that while that may have been the prior rule, the modern rule requires the exercise of reasonable care to prevent dangerous trees from causing such injuries.

Negligence in Tree Management

To recover for injuries or damages caused by a falling tree or portion of a tree, an injured party must demonstrate that:

a tree owner had some duty to prevent the harm,

  • the tree owner breached that duty,
  • the breach was the cause of the injured party’s harm.

Since the modern trend is to establish in law a duty on the part of the tree owner to identify and repair or eliminate dangerous or hazardous conditions on the property, the modern threshold test is merely, was the dangerous object under the control or supervision of the tree owner?

But how does a court assess whether the tree in question was in fact hazardous or dangerous, and additionally, whether the tree owner’s legal duty to eliminate the hazard was triggered?

The legal principle at work essentially states that if a tree owner is actually aware, or should have been aware, of a defect or risk posed by a tree, remedial action is warranted, even required.  A tree owner must act as a reasonable person would have acted in the same circumstances.

West Virginia Premises Liability Attorneys

If you have suffered as a result of a fallen tree, broken limbs, or injured by any other premises hazard, we are here to help.  If you have any questions or are not sure if you have a case, call Jeff Robinette of the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC today and get the answers and help you need.  Call today:  304-594-1800 or 24 hour line:  304-216-6695.

Sources:

http://wvmetronews.com/2013/05/18/moundsville-sanitation-worker-killed-in-freak-accident/

Hazard tree liability in the United States: Uncertain risks for owners and professionals, by Michael J. Mortimer and Brian Kane, 2004:  http://www.summit-tree.com/pubs/Hazard%20Tree%20Liability.pdf‎

 

 

Consol Found to be at Fault for Slurry Impoundment Collapse

The West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training has cited Consolidation Coal Co. for the coal slurry impoundment collapse that killed one in November.

The haulage road on the coarse refuse dump area was not safe to drive on, according to the agency’s July 10 report on the incident.

“This is a violation of a Health and Safety statute of serious nature involving a fatality,” the report reads.

Coal mine slurry pondIn the November 30 incident at the Robinson Run mine in Harrison County, experienced miner Markel J. Koon, age 58, was running a bulldozer on the haulage road about noon when the dump site cracked and failed, sweeping the dozer, with Koon, into the impoundment.

The report details evidence that the location was not safe.

Consolidation Coal engineer Paul Stuart Carter had received numerous email messages from supervisor Michael Friedline over the previous week about high readings on a piezometer on the upstream slope, according to the report. A piezometer measures water pressure and is used to monitor stability of a dam.

Carter arrived at the mine at about 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 30, and the two walked the slope and noticed bubbling — more, in Friedline’s observation, than even that morning.  Carter said, “we need to get off the fill.” Friedline instructed Koon by radio to leave the fill, and Koon had begun moving the dozer when a large crack began to develop. Large sections immediately broke off, sliding into the thick slurry and carrying Friedline, Carter, their pickup trucks, and the bulldozer and Koon with it.

Friedline and Carter were quickly rescued. The recovery of Koon’s body on Dec. 14 concluded an extensive recovery operation.

The section that failed, according to the report, was more than 600 feet long, 50 feet wide and 24 feet high. The depth of slurry where the dozer came to rest was 27 feet.

In addition to citing the company, Miners Health Safety and Training recommended the company train employees on hazards of working near water, and that life jackets should be worn by all employees working near water.

It is not clear whether that would have helped Koon.

Further recommendations may be issued when all of the information has been reviewed, the report said.

For Full Story of Markel Koon Recovery Efforts:  https://wvaccidentlawyer.org/2012/12/01/consol-miner-missing/

Legal Insight — Work-related Wrongful Death Claims

West Virginia workers have had a long-standing tradition of persevering and working hard in spite of dangerous and exhausting conditions.  In most cases, the family of a worker who is killed 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 family 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,” as provided in W. Va. Code 23-4-2.

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 died 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.

Submitted by the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, West Virginia Workplace Injury/Wrongful Death Lawyers.  Free books — Call us today: 304-216-6695 or 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.

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Source: The State Journal, July 10, 2013, Pam Kasey http://www.statejournal.com/story/22809250/supervisor-had-concerns-before-consol-slurry-impoundment-fell-in#.Ud6WooeXXPI.twitter

Tired Truckers Protest New Regulations

FedEx Truck Crash on I-79New Rules for Truckers

In an effort to increase safety on our roadways and reduce driver fatigue, a leading factor in large truck crashes, the Department of Transportation has updated its mandates for breaks and rest periods for long haul truckers.

Tired drivers are far more likely to cause accidents than those who are well rested and driving in compliance with federal trucking guidelines. Tired drivers may also enter a dangerous state known as “highway hypnosis” in which dozens of miles may pass that they do not even remember. Whether a driver falls asleep at the wheel or is inattentive due to lack of sleep, the resulting accidents can lead to catastrophic injuries and wrongful death.

New Schedule Guidelines for Truckers

Starting Monday, drivers will have to stick to a schedule that requires taking a 30-minute break in the first eight hours of driving, cut the maximum workweek to 70 hours from 82, and “restart” those 70 hours with a 34-hour break once a week.

The rules are part of a program to make U.S. highways safer by reducing the number of truck accidents and fatalities. The program also includes a safety rating system that shippers can review when they chose a new carrier, with the goal of prodding the trucking industry to further improve the safety of its drivers and equipment.

Recent Examples of Driving Fatigue in West Virginia

Driver fatigue is a dangerous condition on highways throughout West Virginia. Federal laws regulate how many miles a truck driver can travel per day, per week and on consecutive days. All too often, however, truck drivers push these limits to increase profits or because they are pressured by their employers. In either case, the lives of innocent motorists, passengers and pedestrians are put at risk.

  • This year in Doddridge County three people were injured when an ambulance driver had fallen asleep while driving.  The driver said he was traveling toward Parkersburg when the vehicle ran off the roadway and ended up in the guard rail and a ravine, according to West Virginia State Police.
  • Last July, Richard Detamore was killed when he and coworker Jacob Rowan Forrest were ejected from their vehicle. Now Ashley Detamore is suing her husband’s employer, Nabors Well Services for negligence and wrongful death.  She said the Nabors company knew her husband and Forrest, both truckers for Nabors, had worked more than 30 hours in a 48-hour span.
  • In October, 2012 near Morgantown, WV a FedEx truck was traveling north in the southbound lanes shortly before 1 a.m. when the driver tried to make a U-turn to correct his direction.  The FedEx driver caused a truck accident when he struck a tractor-trailer which then crossed the median into the northbound lanes and crashed through a guardrail on the east edge of the road.

What does the Trucking Industry Think About New Rules?

But the trucking industry—which has sued to have the rules reversed—is warning that they will mean more highway traffic and high shipping costs for consumers. Truckers are saying, “If I get any more breaks out here I won’t be able to make a living.”

What the complainers are missing is that trucking is dangerous when drivers are too tired to be on full alert at all times.   Slugging out the last hundred miles every day is what the new laws are designed to address.   The truckers should actually “rest” during the rest stops instead of playing arcade games, going gambling or watching movies.   That is not rest.

The new rules are predicted to prevent 1,400 crashes and 560 injuries, and saving 19 lives each year.  The DOT says the new rules will also produce a broader economic benefit. The department’s analysis found that in 2009 alone, large truck and bus accidents cost some $20 billion in medical and insurance costs, infrastructure damage, lost wages and productivity. The analysis also estimated $470 million in benefits from reduced driver mortality.

 Jeff Robinette, West Virginia Truck Accident Attorney

Jeff Robinette is a National Board Certified Trial Attorney who has focused his practice on motor vehicle accidents.  Our office is in Morgantown, but we represent clients in car accident and motor vehicle injury cases in Monongalia County, Taylor County, Doddridge County, Marion County, and Preston County, West Virginia.

Free Books for WV Accident Victims

Call us today: 304-216-6695 or 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.

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Gas Well Fire in Doddridge County WV Legal Insight

On Sunday July 7th, 2013,  Antero officials reported five workers were injured in a gas well pad explosion at about 4:00 a.m. at a Doddridge County, WV gas drilling site off Brushy Fork Road near New Milton, WV.  The five men were taken to the West Penn Burn Center and are being treated for various degrees of burns.  Regular operations have been shut down at the Antero Resources well site after the two explosions on Sunday morning.  Most of the injured are in severe critical condition and some have required surgery.

The men who suffered burn injuries were working for contracting companies — three men from Nabors Completion and Production Service, one from C and R Downhole Drilling LLC, and a worker who is employed by Willowbend Investments Incorporated.  The identities of the men and their conditions have not been released.  Antero operates 15 drilling sites in seven counties in West Virginia.  This is the second explosion at an Antero site within a year in West Virginia.  Two deaths resulted from this tragic incident.Gas Well Fire Doddridge County WV

Right now investigators believe a pump which the employees were working on may have ignited gas vapors which caused an explosion, causing two tanks to rupture and causing damage to other tanks.  The diesel engine pump, which had malfunctioned, was being used to push data logging equipment down into the horizontal wellbore, which had been drilled and hydraulically fractured, by pumping fluid behind it.  The well had been drilled recently, and the crew was in the final stages of completing the well.  Workers were inserting a narrow production tube into the metal casing around the drilled hole when methane gas somehow ignited.  Investigators have not ruled out the possibility that fumes that had volatilized and accumulated inside the tanks and exploded.

The fluid that was contained in two tanks next to the pump was “produced water” which is a fluid that comes back up from wells which may contain explosive volatile organic compounds.  DEP spokeswoman said Monday the blast ruptured two tanks containing flow back water that Antero had been reusing, but the secondary containment system captured the fluid as designed and none left the site. There was no contamination to any nearby streams, she said, and the nearest home is about a half-mile away so it was unaffected.

Legal Insight You Need for Your Gas Well Injury Claim


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.

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.

Many injured workers think that their financial damages for medical bills and lost earnings are limited to West Virginia workers’ compensation benefits.

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,” as provided in W. Va. Code 23-4-2.

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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For More Information:  WBOY news, July 8th, 2013:  http://www.wboy.com/story/22776291/gas-well-workers-injured-in-explosion#.Udq5ObZMY_0.twitter

West Virginia State Journal, July 8th, 2013:  http://www.statejournal.com/story/22782306/basic-details-still-coming-in-on-sunday-antero-wellpad-explosion

Three Deaths in same Motel Room within Two Months from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide poisoning is emerging as the most likely cause of death of an 11-year-old boy and two elderly guests in the motel room almost two months apart in Boone NC.

Boone police said emergency responders found elevated levels of the gas in the Best Western room where the young boy died on Saturday.

Police say a preliminary post mortem found the boy died from asphyxia, which happens when toxic gases cut off oxygen to the body.

The boy’s mother was rushed to hospital and survived. She is in a stable condition.

An elderly couple was found dead in the same motel room on April 16.

Police said new toxicology results show that elderly couple also died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The hotel on East King Street in Boone remains closed while investigators focus on the heating system for the pool.

The room where all three people died is above the pool.  The pool permit was suspended on March 16 after inspectors noted ventilation problems in the chemical and equipment room.  The pool had since reopened, but it could not confirm the problems had been fixed.

Duty to Protect from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning — Business and Home Owners

Unfortunately not every hotel or apartment is equipped with functional CO monitors — which means that unwary occupants are potentially exposed to this silent killer.  Hotel guests and tenants of apartments should not be required to wear personal monitors for these type of preventable exposures.  All owners of property, even home owners, should conduct annual inspections of their gas furnaces and hot water heaters that are fueled by natural gas, liquid propane gas or heating oil.  A certified heating and ventilation inspector should ensure that the furnace and water heaters are in good working order and properly vented.   Clogged chimneys and vent pipes often cause a backup of CO gas that eventually escapes to other areas of a dwelling.

What is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

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.

In addition to death, carbon monoxide can cause severe learning disability, memory loss, and personality changes.

West Virginia Carbon Monoxide Wrongful Death Attorneys

Hotel owners and landlords have the highest degree of responsibility to ensure that their facilities are safe for guests and tenants.  Inspections and proper maintenance of equipment and heating units and the installation and maintenance of detectors are common-sense preventative measures one would expect any building owner to have in place to prevent these senseless tragedies.

Robinette Legal Group has represented CO injury victims and the families of individuals who have died from CO exposure.  Jeff Robinette is a National Board Certified Trial Lawyer and has the experience to handle your carbon monoxide exposure case.  If you or a loved one has experienced the devastating effects of carbon monoxide poisoning , please contact us at the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC for help at http://www.robinettelaw.com or (304)594-1800.

 

Is There a Difference Between a Collision and an Accident in WV?

Collision CareOne of the classic ways that insurance adjusters begin the process of defeating your claim is to label the wrongful conduct of their own insured driver as an accident.   They will attempt to gain sympathy for their insured driver and make the collision sound like just a little mistake — an accident.   While it is true that many minor collisions occur every day and cause no personal injuries to anyone, it is not accurate to say that all collisions are “accidents”.

When a significant auto collision occurs, causing serious personal injuries, it is self-evident that the person who caused the collision violated the motor vehicle safety laws and is thus guilty of careless, negligent conduct.

It is important to never refer to the conduct of the at-fault driver, who caused your serious injuries, as a mere mistake, or the auto collision as an accident.  If the collision was truly an “accident,” then the law may not hold anyone responsible.  The law requires that legal liability be established on the basis of fault, referred to as negligence.

 WV Uniform Crash Report Replaces Uniform Accident Report

 For many decades, law enforcement officers used the “Uniform Accident Report” form to annotate information about the auto collision.   Notice the word “Accident” in the title of the form?    Insurance companies and defense lawyers loved it!   During trials, the defense lawyer, the police officer, and even the judge referred to the collision as an accident.   So, what’s a jury to think about your claim if it was caused by an accident?  Well, I can tell you from experience — not much.

Recently, however, the use of a revised auto collision report form was mandated in West Virginia.   The change was primarily brought about because a new form had to be created to be integrated with computer software.    Irrespective of the reasons to get a new form in the system, every state, county and city police force must use the revised form: “State of West Virginia Uniform Traffic Crash Report.”   Did you notice the word “Crash” in the title of the report?  You can bet the insurance adjuster and defense lawyer noticed it.

So now, even police officers must recognize that they are investigating car “crashes,” not mere “accidents.”    But, old ways are hard to break, and it will take constant reminders to adjusters and even judges to refrain from referring to the police report as an “accident” report.

 Morgantown WV Collision Injury Lawyers

If you or your loved one has been injured due to someone’s careless, negligent conduct 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.

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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Gas Well Flash Fire in Tyler County, WV

Compressor-Fire-1-650x350Authorities are investigating the cause of an explosion at a gas well compression station site in Tyler County.  The Twin Hickories Road compression station explosion happened on Thursday, April 11, 2013 in Wick near Middlebourne.  The facility is owned by Marietta, Ohio based Eureka-Hunter.  Three people employed by third-party contractors suffered severe burns and were flown directly to the West Penn Burn Center in Pittsburgh.  A fourth employee was injured, but treated and released at a local hospital.

Later, Eureka officials corrected initial reports.  The senior vice president of Eureka Hunter clarified the reported explosion was a flash fire, and the location was a pig receiving station along the pipeline, not a compression station as first reported.  The “pig” is a device to clean out pipelines to remove accumulated liquids.  This particular line carried methane as well as natural gas liquids such as ethane, propane and butane from the wellhead.

At about 7 p.m. on April 11th, Tyler County 911 received a call from a Eureka Hunter employee of an explosion with storage tanks on fire and at least two people injured at the Twin Hickories Road compression station near Wick, W.Va.

Fire and emergency responders were sent to the scene along with the Tyler County Sheriff Deputies. According to a press release, fire units from Shirley, Alma, Middlebourne, Sistersville as well as Saint Mary’s from Pleasants County and Paden City from Wetzel County responded.

Two Tanks on Fire near Tyler County Compression Station

“When we arrived on scene we had a track-hoe on fire and two tanks were on fire,” said a member of the Middlebourne VFD. “This was not a well, this was a compressor station.”

It was reported the workers were using a new piece of equipment to “pig” the line. However, it’s unclear what caused the fire. The blaze was intense and rekindled several times due to the heat. He said firemen took more than an hour to get it out.  Early reports indicated the natural gas liquids in the tanks fueled the fire.  The fire remained above ground and did not progress to the underground pipe lines.

“We went in and shut the valves off feeding the tanks. What was burning was what was in the tanks on top. It was very flammable,” he said. “It kept reigniting and burning off. We climbed on the tank, shut the lid, and put it out.”

West Virginia Gas Drilling Injury Lawyers – Robinette Legal Group, PLLC

The development of the Marcellus Shale oil and gas drilling in West Virginia provides many jobs to hard-working West Virginians.  West Virginia workers have a long-standing tradition of working hard in spite of dangerous and exhausting conditions.

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. If the cause of your injury was due to faulty equipment or a negligent contractor, you may be entitled to seek additional monetary compensation from that third party.

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 Robinette Legal Group, PLLC website:  http://www.robinettelaw.com

righting_the_wrong_3dBeside_Still_Waters_-_Covers_3DCollision CareTwitterLinkedinGoogle +FacebookJeffery Robinette

Sources:

http://wvmetronews.com/three-burned-in-compressor-fire/  WV MetroNews, by Chris Lawrence, April 12, 2013

http://www.mariettatimes.com/page/content.detail/id/551182/-Flash-fire–in-Tyler-Co–investigated.html?nav=5002

OSHA Finds Management Failure led to Death at Blacksville No. 2 Mine

coal miner died, hat and glovesApril 11, 2013 update:  William E. Mock, 61, died in September at the Blacksville No. 2 coal mine in Monongalia County near Morgantown, WV.  Federal inspectors find death was in part due to a failure of management to ensure safety of its employees.

Mock, a general inside laborer, was fatally injured when an 11-foot by 5-foot piece of mine roof fell onto him on Sept. 13, 2012. Mock and another employee, Doug Ice Jr., were removing a piece of the permanent roof supports when the accident occurred. The Mine Safety and Health Administration’s fatal accident report concluded that failure to install additional support before the primary support was removed caused the accident.

The roof fell with just 30 minutes remaining in Mock’s shift.

“The plank was cut approximately half-way when they determined it was taking weight from the mine roof. Mock stopped cutting the board,” the report states. “A portion of a roof bolt supporting the board was exposed due to sloughing of roof material. Mock and Ice decided to cut the roof bolt with a track bonder. To avoid being exposed to a flash from the bonder, Ice turned his back. When the bolt was burned through, there was a loud ‘pop,’ causing Ice to duck. When Ice turned back around, he saw Mock covered with a rock from the lower chest down.”

Ice attempted to remove the rock but was unable to do so, according to the report.

“When assistance arrived at the accident site, Mock was checked for vital signs, but none were detected,” the report states. ” … The Mon County EMS Service transported Mock to the Waynesburg Hospital, where he was pronounced dead upon arrival.”

CONSOL could not provide proof to MSHA that either Mock or Ice had received task training for removal of permanent roof support.

MSHA’s report says management failed to assure that persons removing the roof were located in a safe position, failed to examine the roof conditions prior to removal and failed to provide task training instructing the miners in appropriate procedures for removing the roof supports.

“Management personnel were not present when the accident occurred,” the report states. “No member of mine management was with Mock and Ice during the entire shift, including the removal of the load bearing support.”

In its root cause analysis of the accident, MSHA determined that the “most basic causes of the accident” would have been correctable through “reasonable management controls.” The report says CONSOL has since taken corrective actions to ensure policies and safety instructions related to the causes of the incident.

CONSOL received eight citations in relation to the investigation of the fatality.

Source:  http://www.statejournal.com/story/21943312/managements-failure-noted-in-consol-miners-death, by Taylor Kuykendall, April 11, 2013.

Original Post:  A CONSOL Miner, William Edward Mock died on Thursday, September 13, 2012 after being seriously injured when he was struck by a large rock during a workplace accident along the track haulage at the Blacksville No. 2 mine.  According to the Dominion Post, the accident is under investigation and CONSOL is looking into what happened.  

While the mine has a portal in West Virginia west of Blacksville, the bulk of the coal being mined is in Pennsylvania. The site of the accident will determine which state mine safety agency is involved.

CONSOL said it will provide updates on the accident as information becomes available and will work closely with federal and state mining officials to determine the cause of the incident.

West Virginia coal miners are among the hardest working professionals in America. Despite strong MSHA regulations, coal mining continues to be one of the most dangerous occupations in the world. Every year, miners are injured or killed because the coal operators continue to circumvent or violate safety laws for the protection of the miners.

If your loved one has been injured or killed while working in or near a coal mine in West Virginia, you are entitled to certain workers’ compensation benefits and other recoveries from the coal company for “deliberate intention” violations set forth in West Virginia law, Section 23-4-2. Moreover, you may also be entitled to seek a recovery for money damages from any third parties – like equipment manufacturers and subcontractors – that contributed to or caused your injuries.

Free Consultation · Contingency Fees · Don’t Lose Your Workers’ Comp Benefits

The Robinette Legal Group is recognized as one of the region’s most successful coal mining injury litigation firms. Our attorneys understand the regulations and we know how to look beneath the coal dust to find the true cause of the accident and the full extent of your injuries and financial damages that result. We work independently as your attorney or with your workers’ compensation lawyer to seek the full and fair compensation from the insurance company that is liable for damages. 

Submitted by the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, West Virginia Injury Lawyers. Free books and downloads for WV accident victims — Call us today: 304-216-6695 or 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.

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Harrison County, WV Power Plant Accident Results in Death

An employee of a contractor performing work for FirstEnergy, died following a workplace accident at the Harrison Power Station in Harrison County on March 20, 2013.  The accident occurred around 8:45 a.m., according to the OSHA area director.

The man was an employee of Burnham Industrial Contractors Inc., an insulating company based in Pittsburgh, according to  a FirstEnergy spokeswoman.

According to the State Journal, the contracting company, Burnham Industrial, was removing insulation from ductwork in preparation for an upcoming planned maintenance outage when their employee fell through and into the ductwork, according to a March 20 letter from the power station’s director to employees.

“Scaffold planks on the duct structure beams were being used throughout the job to prevent any direct contact with the duct plating,” the letter reads. “At this time, it is not clear how the employee was positioned to have any contact with the duct plating.”

As a personal injury attorney who has had the privilege of helping the families of employees killed or injured while working at power plants, I am always saddened to hear that there is another family whose life has now been forever changed by a tragic death associated with working conditions at a local power plant.

Utility Workers Union of American attorney Mark Brooks shared a little more information.

“We were told that the company (Burnham) had worked on that particularly duct work and moved on to another part of the plant,” Brooks said. “And this worker went back to retrieve some tools and he was later found having fallen through a weak spot in the ductwork.”

He said it’s his understanding that the temperature inside the ductwork, when operating, approaches 300 degrees, and that the man was found by another Burnham employee.

He was unable to say whether it is standard practice to perform work on ductwork while the system is in operation.

FirstEnergy owns the coal-fired power plant.  FirstEnergy, Burnham Industrial, and OSHA are all investigating the cause of the fatality to determine who was at fault for this tragic and untimely death.  Officials will continue to investigate the accident to determine how and why safety measures failed and whether there were any violations of federal safety regulations.

Although employers are immune from common-law negligence claims through Worker’s Compensation laws, families of fatally injured employees have a cause of action against employers who deliberately expose their employees to known unsafe conditions in the workplace.

The insurance companies will be doing everything within their legal power to minimize this 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 this family to hire an attorney who has a reputation of experience and success in handling wrongful death claims.

What is a Wrongful Death?

Allow us to answer some of your questions:  http://www.robinettelaw.com/Articles/Wrongful-Death-Claims-in-West-Virginia.shtml.

This is the second death at the Harrison Power Station in less than two years. A Rivesville man died at the facility in September 2011 when he was pinned between a machine and a guardrail.  FirstEnergy was found by OSHA to be at fault for this employee’s death.  

Submitted by the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, West Virginia Injury Lawyers. Free books and downloads for WV accident victims — Call us today: 304-216-6695 or 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. You can also find Jeffery Robinette on Google+.

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Does it Matter if I Wait to Contact a Lawyer?

gavel and clockDoes it really matter if I wait to contact a lawyer about my wrongful death claim?

If you think that waiting a few months to speak with a lawyer won’t impact your wrongful death claim, think again.  Every day that you wait to seek legal counsel equates to a loss of opportunity to obtain full compensation for your injuries. In reality, it is the first 30 days following the fatal injuries to your deceased family member that are most critical to your case.

It is within this relatively short time period that initial inspections should be completed and necessary evidence and testimony secured. It is always best if a lawyer is consulted within the first few days following the tragic event, because certain evidence won’t last even 30 days. If you wait too long to develop your wrongful death claim, it will make the job of even a good lawyer more difficult to obtain a full recovery for the estate.

Waiting even a few weeks to get legal advice about your case may be just enough time for evidence to be lost or destroyed or an important witness to disappear.  Loss of vital evidence and witness testimony will cause permanent shortcomings in your wrongful death case.    Without evidence you have no way of proving liability against the responsible parties who caused the death of your family member.

You don’t know if or when your evidence will disappear or be destroyed. An important witness to your case will not likely call you up and give you their testimony and forwarding address before they skip town. When they skip town, there goes your evidence, too. And that documentary evidence — the tangible information like records and parts — you need to prove your case can disappear. Nobody is going to alert you to that either.

Also, please keep in mind that West Virginia allows only two years to file suit after the occurrence.  After this time, your claim will be forever barred.

It doesn’t matter if your evidence is accidently lost or intentionally destroyed; both have the same adverse impact on your fatal injury claim.  All these things happen without you knowing it — these are some of the legal ramifications of waiting too long to get legal counsel.  You don’t have to end up being further harmed — you can exercise your right to consult with your own lawyer about your injury claim today.

For further information about moving forward after a tragic, unexpected death, we offer a free resource for you to help guide you through the process of moving forward with your lives.  Click this link to gain the insight you need today:  Beside Still Waters:  West Virginia Fatal Injury Guide.Beside_Still_Waters_-_Covers_3D

No words or amount of remuneration could ever compensate all that you have lost when your loved one is taken from you.  As you move forward with your life, those who are responsible must be held accountable to give you a sense of justice and closure.  Jeff Robinette and his staff are available to answer your questions.  Every call is handled with compassion, and every case is handled with dignity and professionalism.

Call The Robinette Legal Group, PLLC today:  304-216-6695. You can also find Jeffery Robinette on Google+