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Morgantown Heavy Truck Traffic Ordinance Ruled Illegal by Judge

Safe Streets Morgantown proposed a truck ordinance to Morgantown City Council in August that would restrict heavy truck traffic in Morgantown.  The proposal cited that trucks that cause disturbances in residential neighborhoods and in business areas due to the noise and emissions from the trucks. The ordinance, which was later passed by city council, classifies 'heavy trucks' as exceeding 26,000 lbs. and having three or more axles. 

Last month the Morgantown City Council delayed enforcement of the ordinance, which was passed in September. The ordinance was approved to prohibit some commercial motor vehicles—those with a Class 7 registration or higher that weigh 13 tons or more—from traveling through downtown. Exceptions written into the ordinance included downtown deliveries and emergency vehicles.

The West Virginia Division of Highways has never wavered from its position that it owns all state routes and the city of Morgantown does not have jurisdiction to regulate traffic. That’s why DOH counsel Jonathan Storage was surprised when he learned Morgantown City Council approved an ordinance restricting heavy truck traffic on state Route 7 through downtown.

“It’s the Division of Highways position that the DOH owns the road. We care for it. We pay for it and we’re bound to have a uniform system of regulations to make certain that everyone has equal access to it,” Storage said on WAJR-AM’s Morgantown AM.

A lawsuit, filed by Nuzum Trucking Company of Shinnston and Preston Contractors Inc. of Kingwood, cited that the ban is unenforceable and recommends an injunction prohibiting Morgantown from enforcing the ban. Kanawha County judge Joanna Tabit determined that the truck ordinance is illegal, citing that state code overrules Morgantown's law about state highways. The judge also asserted that Morgantown lacked the authority to control traffic on certain types of roads and therefore ruled against the ordinance. 

“We knew it was going to go to court because there were differences in interpretations of state law," said Morgantown City Manager Jeff Mikorski. "This ruling lets us know where we are, where we stand, now we'll take this and think about the next step with council." Council has 30 days to decide whether or not to appeal this ruling and will meet in executive session at its January 6th meeting to discuss how to move forward.

The Dangers of Driving Drowsy

Drunk drivers and distracted drivers are regularly in the news, but there's another form of impairment that causes a number of accidents statewide: drowsiness. Our West Virginia personal injury lawyers have some facts, statistics, and safety tips related to the problem of the drowsy driver.

Drowsy drivers: Facts and statistics

  • In a poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, about 60% of adult drivers (or approximately 168 million people) admitted to getting behind the wheel while feeling drowsy within the past year. In addition, nearly 40% of those drivers (approximately 11 million people) said they had actually dozed off while driving.
  • Estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicate that drowsy drivers contribute to at least 100,000 police-reported crashes every year. These accidents result in approximately 1,550 deaths; 71,000 injuries; and $12.5 billion in costs.
  • When you've been awake for about 18 hours, your cognitive impairment is similar to a driver with a 0.05% blood alcohol content, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. After you've been up for 24 hours, your impairment is similar to a driver with a 0.10% BAC.

Drowsy driving: Who's at risk?

  • Younger drivers, particularly males under age 26
  • Employees who work long hours or night shifts (notably, night shift workers have a crash risk six times higher than the average driver; drivers who work more than 60 hours a week have a 40% greater risk)
  • Commercial drivers (fatigue is a factor in at least 15% of all heavy truck accidents)
  • Drivers with undiagnosed/untreated sleep disorders
  • Business travelers (drivers who spend many hours behind the wheel, or who may be jet-lagged)

Warning signs: Are you driving while drowsy?

  • Are you yawning or blinking excessively?
  • Are you struggling with wandering or disconnected thoughts?
  • Do you have trouble remembering the last few miles you've driven?
  • Have you drifted out of your lane or been jerked awake by a rumble strip?
  • Have you missed exits, turns or traffic signals?

Avoiding drowsy driving: Trips for safe travel

  • If you plan to travel long distances, be sure you get plenty of sleep (at least six hours) before you hit the road. Never plan to work all day and drive all night.
  • Travel during times of day when you are normally awake - and plan to stay overnight when necessary.
  • Take breaks from driving as you need them (about every two hours or every 100 miles).
  • Travel with a companion who plans to stay awake with you.
  • If you start feeling drowsy, pull over. It might take you extra time to arrive at your destination, but it might also save your life - or someone else's.

If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident, contact the Morgantown Car Accident Lawyers at Colombo Law at 800-860-1414.

Lawsuit Filed in Fatal Antero Well Pad Explosion

Storage tanks known to contain flammable and explosive gases were aligned on the well pad close to a diesel pump. Despite the fact that it is well-known that the storage tanks contained flammable and explosive gasses, the hatches on top of the tanks were left open. An explosive mixture of gasses from the storage tanks escapes and engulfed the employees on the well pad in an invisible explosive gas cloud, which ignited July 7, 2013.

Charles Arbogast and other workers were on the well site located near New Milton when a flash fire and explosion erupted, which resulted in severe and permanent injuries to Charles Arbogast.

Charles and Diane Arbogast, who are represented by Colombo Law, are suing the defendants due to permanent injuries sustained in this explosion.

For more information:

http://www.wboy.com/story/27168437/couple-file-lawsuit-in-fatal-july-2013-antero-well-pad-explosion-in-doddridge-county

http://www.wboy.com/story/22776291/update-gas-well-fire-injures-5-workers-in-doddridge-county 

http://www.wboy.com/story/22919294/worker-injured-in-july-7-antero-gas-wellpad-explosion-dies

Greater Morgantown Convention and Visitors Bureau Grand Opening

Attorney Dino Colombo participated in the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony at the Greater Morgantown Convention and Visitors Bureau with Senator Joe Manchin III on Thursday. 

Colombo Law wishes the best of luck to the CVB in their continued mission to create a positive economic impact on the Greater Morgantown area.

Colombo Law sponsoring animals at the Humane Society of Harrison County

Each month, Colombo Law will be sponsoring one cat and one dog at the Humane Society of Harrison County.  The Humane Society offers a great service to both the animals and the community as a "no kill" shelter. Unfortunately, this means there are often more animals waiting for adoption than the shelter has room for which puts the no-kill policy at risk. We need people to adopt these pets and give them their forever home. 

We will feature these animals on our Facebook page, starting Nov. 3rd. 

Traumatic Brain Injuries a common result of West Virginia car accidents

When a loved one suffers from a traumatic brain injury, his or her life can be permanently changed, impacting not just the victims but their loved ones as well. Often, those afflicted with these injuries are forced to relearn basic tasks, as brain injuries can impact an individual's thinking, sensation, language and emotions. Traumatic brain injuries can also result in long-term financial consequences associated with medical care, disability, and rehabilitation.

What is a traumatic brain injury?

According to the Brain Injury Association of America, a traumatic brain injury is defined as "an alteration in brain function, or other evidence of brain pathology, caused by an external force." These injuries are, unfortunately, common. They can be associated with a number of incidents, including the following:

Auto accidents account for 17.3% of traumatic brain injuries in the United States, and medical professionals report that it is remarkably easy to suffer a brain injury in a car crash. You don't have to be traveling at a high rate of speed, and you don't even have to strike your head on an object to suffer injury. Clinical neuropsychologist Dr. Glen Johnson explains a common scenario: "If a person is driving a car at 45 miles per hour and is struck head-on by another car traveling at the same rate of speed, the person's brain goes from 45 miles per hour to zero in an instant. The soft tissue of the brain is propelled against the very hard bone of the skull. The brain tissue is 'squished' against the skull and blood vessels may tear. When blood vessels tear, they release blood into areas of the brain in an uncontrolled way."

Bleeding in the brain can be especially dangerous, because it can cause brain tissue to stop functioning or even die off - and it can happen fast. In many cases, symptoms of these injuries don't appear right away: "Some people have sustained a head injury from a car accident and [seemed] 'just fine' right after at the accident. Some have even gotten out of the car and directed traffic," Dr. Johnson says. "Within a short period of time, they began to get more and more confused until they eventually [lapsed] into a coma."

Legalities and finances

It's extremely difficult to place a dollar amount on losses, damages and expenses that are connected to traumatic brain injuries. If your loved one has suffered from a traumatic brain injury, you are most likely struggling with a large or even astronomical financial burden.

One way a personal injury attorney can provide assistance is by focusing on the legalities and finances while you and your loved one focus on healing. A lawyer can negotiate with an insurance company on your behalf, and help you ensure that your needs are met, both in the present and long-term.

At Colombo Law, our personal injury lawyers represent car accident victims throughout the state of West Virginia. We offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case and answer your questions. For more information, please call us toll-free at 1-888-860-1414.

1 Dead After Ambulance Collision on Route 250 in Marion County

Route 250 in Marion County closed for several hours Monday afternoon following a fatal two vehicle accident. At approximately 1:14 p.m. first responders were dispatched to a report of a crash involving a Jeep and an ambulance near the Barrackville intersection of Route 250.

Both vehicles were traveling towards Fairmont on the Husky Highway. The driver of the Jeep didn't hear the ambulance behind it and attempted to turn onto Barrackville Road causing the accident. The ambulance traveled off of the road and landed upside down in a nearby creek. Two people were transported to Ruby Memorial Hospital and two were transported to Fairmont Regional Medical Center, according to the Marion County Rescue Squad. All four MCRS employees had a varying severity of injuries but are in stable condition while no one in the Jeep was injured. However, the Marion County Sheriff's Department said that a patient in the ambulance died during the incident, but that a medical examiner will determine the patient's cause of death. 

The Husky Highway at Hillcrest, Hampton Road, Pike Street, and Smith Road were closed following the accident while The Division of Transportation was assessing the scene, including guardrail damage. The Marion County Sheriff's Department and West Virginia State Police are investigating and reconstructing the crash and have determined that no charges will be filed against the driver of the Jeep, said the Marion County Sheriff's Department.

"The Marion County Rescue Squad wishes to extend our heartfelt sympathies to all involved, as well as their families.  We extend our appreciation to all who assisted at the scene, to include the Barrackville, Farmington, and Fairmont Fire Departments, Monongalia EMS, Harrison & Taylor Emergency Squads, Marion County Homeland Security Director Chris McIntire and HealthNet AeroMedical Services," said MCRS Chief of Operations Michael Angelucci.

 

Texting & Driving May Be To Blame For Head-On Collision

Just after 5:30 p.m. Saturday evening there was a two car accident in Wallace along Bennetts Run Road. According to Harrison County 911 officials, Two people were flown to Ruby Memorial Hospital and four others were taken to UHC by ambulance. Texting and driving may be to blame, but it hasn't been confirmed.

Troopers say four men were driving in a Toyota Tacoma South Bound on Route 20 when the driver crossed the center line and hit a Ford F-150 head on.

Apparently none of the people in the Toyota were wearing a seatbelt. The driver and the front seat passenger in the Toyota were trapped in the car and had to be cut out. Those were the two people flown to Ruby.

The two other men in the Toyota were taken to UHC with serious injuries. A man was driving the Ford and a woman was a passenger in that car; both of them were taken to UHC by ambulance as well.

19-year-old Christian Shaver (driver of Toyota) and 20-year-old Austin Eddings (front seat passenger in Toyota) are in ICU at Ruby.

23-year-old Kyle Thompson (Toyota passenger) was transferred to Ruby from UHC, but his condition is unknown at this time.

22-year-old Michael Gill (Toyota passenger), 46-year-old Jefferson Flesher (Ford driver), and Regina Flesher (Ford passenger) have all been treated and released from UHC.

Charges are pending. Harrison County State Police is handling the investigation.

The use of life care planning in personal injury cases

Representing clients with severe permanent injuries can be challenging on many levels. It can take an emotional toll on a lawyer and it can also be very expensive. The use of a qualified life care planner will greatly assist a trial lawyer in effectively representing clients who suffer such devastating injuries. When we undertake to represent such clients, it is our practice to get a qualified life care planner involved at the beginning.

To begin with, a life care planner is likely to see things in the medical records that are not immediately apparent to a trial lawyer. Many life care planners are health care professionals who can be a very effective liason between the medical providers and the attorney. The life care planner will get to know the client well enough to work in partnership with treating physicians to insure that the client is getting appropriate and excellent medical care. The goal, of course, is to develop a plan for life that details the current and future medical needs of the client.

Any traumatically injured person can benefit from a well developed life care plan. Persons with traumatic brain injuries, spinal chord injuries, severe burn injuries or amputations are specially appropriate for a life care plan. A life care planner will be aware of and can put the lawyer in touch with resources that will be invaluable for assisting a client with overwhelming injuries to receive medical care, rehabilitation services and attendant care necessary and appropriate for his condition.

In terms of proving damages and obtaining adequate compensation, a good life care plan is indispensable. This is especially true for clients who will require some type of attendant or residential care. And the younger the client, the more critical this is. The cost of attendant care for a young adult, projected over the period of his life, can be enormous. A qualified CPA or economist can calculate this cost and reduce it to present value. We have seen life care plans that cost out at tens of millions of dollars.

At Colombo Law, we are trial lawyers who take our obligations to our client seriously. A life care plan does not just help us successfully prosecute our clients’ cases. It can make a difference in the client’s life even without regard to the outcome of the case. We view it as a privilege to represent clients with catastrophic injuries and the cost of a life care plan is a small price to pay to insure that we do the best job we can. 

Mountainfest Gift Card Winner

The winner of the Colombo Law Mountainfest gift card is Jennifer Woody of Buckhannon, WV. 

We are glad that Jennifer took the time to enter the raffle and excited she won the $500 gift card! Congratulations Jennifer, and enjoy your shopping spree.