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 workplace 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.


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 pipelines.

“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 an 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 visit our Robinette Legal Group, PLLC website:  http://www.robinettelaw.com

righting_the_wrong_3dBeside_Still_Waters_-_Covers_3DCollision Care


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


A Jail Cell at the End of the Tunnel?

coal minerThe Investigation into Upper Big Branch Sends Powerful Message to Mine Industry

It’s beginning to look like the canaries have come home to roost. Last week, the federal investigation of the Upper Big Branch mine disaster continued to take another step up the corporate ladder of the former Massey Energy Co. This time, the former president of the subsidiary that operated that mine pleaded guilty to two federal mine safety charges. David Hughart admitted to illegally warning miners and their bosses about surprise federal inspections for more than a decade, up until only weeks before the fatal blast that claimed the lives of 29 miners. He also said that he and other corporate officials, superintendents and foremen, conspired to violate mine health and safety laws.  Hughart faces up to six years and a $350,000 fine when he’s sentenced June 25.

Furthermore, he squarely pointed the finger at Massey’s former chief executive officer, Don Blankenship, for ordering this practice. Since this investigation was launched in the months following the April 2010 tragedy it has netted three convictions: The mine’s former security chief, its superintendent; and now its president. And in the two former cases, the punishments handed down have been some of the stiffest ever in mine safety cases, including long jail terms. Prosecutors also negotiated a $210 million agreement with the company that bought Massey, Alpha Resources. That spares the company from criminal prosecution but leaves individuals subject to it.

Though this investigation is already one for the records in West Virginia, if it goes after a former mining CEO, it will be a rare day, indeed. But even if it does, we are not going to rejoice. Because at the end of the day, nothing is going to bring back those 29 coal miners, most of whom died from the concussion — some more than a mile away — of a massive explosion underground.

However, it’s clear that this investigation’s real achievement will be the very powerful message it has sent, and not only to the mining industry. If you still need to read between the lines, we’ll spell it out for you: If you conspire to knowingly violate safety and health laws in any workplace and risk the lives of employees, you might be going to jail. There are probably few, if any workplaces, despite best practices and efforts, that are not subject to citations for some violation or another. However, when anyone not only condones and allows unsafe practices but actually makes them company policy, they should face criminal charges. As a rule, we trust almost all mine operators do strive to ensure their employees’ health and safety — consequences or no consequences. But for those who would grossly violate mine safety and health laws, a steel cage may await them.

The families of coal mine disaster victims and survivors have legal rights in West Virginia, but you don’t have to fight for them alone.  Speak to an experienced Coal Mine Explosion Lawyer or Wrongful Death attorney today who can help you understand and protect your rights — Call 304-594-1800 today.  We would be glad to answer your questions.

Source:  Editorial from The Dominion Post, Morgantown, WV: 3/06/2013 http://ee.dominionpost.com

Protect Your Family This Christmas

Christmas candles burningDon’t let fire ruin your family Christmas.   Fire hazards greatly increase when decorating for the holidays; about one-third of home fires and home fire deaths occur during December, January, and February.  Fire is an expense you can’t afford this Christmas, potentially costing irreplaceable lives and an average of $35,000 damage per house fire.

Main Causes of Fire Calamities include:  Connecting multiple extension cords together, putting up holiday lights without inspecting them for frayed cords, letting your tree dry out after it is decorated in the home, creosote buildup in chimney, and leaving a burning candle unattended.

Top Winter Fire Hazards:  

  • Cooking calamities. Keep an all-purpose or Class ABC rated fire extinguisher nearby to get a kitchen fire under control.
  • Space heaters: Avoid setting up a space heater too close to curtains, furniture or holiday decorations. Keep at least three feet of clear space around it and set it up on the floor.
  • Children playing with fire: Never leave children unsupervised with ignition materials such as matches or lighters.
  • Burn only wood in the fireplace: Trash, cardboard boxes or Christmas trees burn unevenly and may cause a dangerous flash fire.
  • Take care with candles: Make sure candles are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning.
  • Holiday lights: Inspect each year for frayed wires, bare spots or broken sockets before putting them up. Turn off holiday lights before leaving the home or going to bed.
  • Counterfeit electronics: Look for CSA or UL certification marks that indicate the product was tested and met the product safety standards.
  • Electrical outlets: Don’t overload your electrical outlets with too many lights or decorations.
  • Electrical cords: Never bundle electric cords together or run under rugs or carpet.
  • Christmas trees: Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches. Regularly give the tree plenty of water.
  • Dirty chimney: Most chimney fires are caused by the buildup of creosote, a highly combustible byproduct of burning wood. Have it inspected and cleaned annually.
  • Dirty fireplace: Put embers in a metal container and set them outside to cool for 24 hours before disposal.

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


Bangladesh’s Story Was Our Story – and we still have a long way to go…

We have one hundred years’ worth of laws to protect laborers and punish wrongdoers, but we still have much to learn about ensuring that those who labor for our benefit are treated with justice.  In the early years of manufacturing in the US, we were dealing with the same issues as Bangladesh, India, and China.  More recently, the Upper Big Branch Coal Mine and Sago Coal Mine disasters illustrate the continued need for integrity in safety compliance and inspections to prevent the untimely deaths of people who are simply trying to earn a living.  The natural gas drilling industry is now working on regulating and inspecting its worksites for safety issues to minimize the hazards of this dangerous work.  Unscrupulous companies that seek maximum profits by ignoring safety concerns must be held accountable.

Concerning the UBB Coal Mine explosion,  federal documents state that the Massey Energy subsidiary mines in Nicholas County routinely violated health and safety laws “because of a belief that consistently following those laws would decrease coal production.”  David C. Hughart, the fourth Massey official facing criminal charges, will plead guilty to a felony count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and a misdemeanor charge of conspiracy. He faces up to six years in prison.

Workplace personal injury and wrongful death lawyers are dedicated to ensuring that business owners maintain OSHA’s high standards for workplace safety, and ensure that if they do attempt to skirt compliance, they suffer great punitive damages.  Unfortunately, the fear of lawsuits is sometimes the only motivator for companies to maintain safety standards for their employees.

A scenario almost identical to the Tazreen Fashion Factory disaster in Bangladesh occurred in 1911 in New York City. The infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire became the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of New York and became the catalyst for true reform in New York State labor law.  The facts of this disaster were nearly identical to those of the recent fire in Dhaka where three company officials have been taken into custody and face criminal charges for locking the exit doors while employees were working.

As we shop for Christmas gifts and seek bargains, maybe we should consider why an object is so very cheap.  To make a difference on a personal level, we can investigate online where some of our goods are manufactured and avoid brands that are known to use sweatshop labor.

Submitted by the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, West Virginia Workplace Injury/Wrongful Death Lawyers. Call us today: 304-594-1800 for your free copy of Righting the Wrong: WV Serious Injury Guide.