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Surviving Morgantown Traffic

With thousands of college students back in Morgantown for the start of classes this Fall at West Virginia University, traffic has also returned. We asked several local residents some questions and got their opinions on all things related to traffic in Morgantown. Here is what they said.

Worst areas in the Morgantown area for traffic:

  • “Beechurst Ave.”
  • “Patterson Drive to Star City from 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm, especially on Fridays.”
  • “Anywhere on campus around 2:30 pm.”
  • “Mileground from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm.”
  • “Star City Bridge up through Beechurst Ave.”
  • “Most roads in Sabraton from 3:30 pm to 6:00 pm.”

How they recommend for people to avoid or deal with increased traffic:

  • “If you can get to the Interstate, it is the best way to get around during the school year.”
  • “Know the short cuts and the back roads.”
  • “Know when and where the traffic will be.”
  • “If you can’t avoid the traffic, have some good music in your car and just sit and wait.”

General traffic information: Many accidents occur during traffic and road congestion because of the high stress environment and the flow of traffic in a continual stop and start again cycle. What are some ways that you can cope and stay safe when stuck in a traffic jam?

  • Stay relaxed: Getting frustrated is not going to make the situation any more enjoyable. Things like listening to the radio can help you stay patient and at ease.
  • Stay focused: anything that can take your attention off driving can pose a risk. This is because driving in traffic is unpredictable.  You need to be aware of the drivers and pedestrians around you. If you find your self getting distracted, try your best to limit the distraction. Turn off your phone, or turn down the volume on the radio for example.
  • Look for a short cut: Many navigation systems will let you avoid a segment of your commute. If you are in a place where it is safe to program your GPS, try to find an alternate route.
  • Plan ahead: If you know that a particular road or area of town has traffic during a specific time of day, do your best to avoid traveling there. However, if avoiding that area is not an option, give yourself extra time to get there and acknowledge that you may be in traffic on your way. Taking into account that it may take you a few extra minutes can help you stay calm when facing traffic on the road.

No one enjoys traffic, and although people’s commutes around Morgantown may been a little more chaotic for the next couple of months, hopefully the information we got from people around town will be of some help to you. We hope that you get around town safely and quickly during this school year. 

The Facts on School Buses

With students heading back to school this week, we thought it would be appropriate to share a few facts about this common way of getting to and from school. 

School buses are a convenient. We all know buses save parents’ time and make sure that students get to school on time in the morning and arrive back home in the afternoon. But what are some things that we may not know about buses?We did some research on school buses and here is what we found:

According to the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, it was not until the late 19th century that transportation was provided to students. Additionally, this service expanded and in 1910, 30 states had programs to transport students to and from school. Now, as indicated by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil transportation Services, there are 450,000 public buses transporting around 24 million students each year.

What many people do not realize is that school buses are the safest mode of transportation for students. The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services mentions that in 1939, 48 states sent representatives to meet and develop standards for safety. These standards that have been kept in place, added to, and modified have made buses significantly safer over the years. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that school buses account for only 1% of student fatalities, as opposed to teen drivers accounting for 58% and adult drivers accounting for 23%. This is most likely due to the safety standards and regulations set in place by the government. School buses are designed to be tougher and are equipped with many safety features (reinforced sides, bright yellow color, stop sign, etc.). These buses are regularly and thoroughly maintained, which prevents safety hazards. Also school bus drivers undergo rigorous training and screening to make sure they are trained and ready to keep children safe. The NHTSA also reports that buses are responsible for less than 4% of student injuries. Therefore, it is safe to say that the school bus is the safest way for your student to travel to and from school.

In addition to safety, school buses also cut fuel consumption and traffic on the roads. Buses reduce the number of parents who drive their children to school, which makes this the more efficient option for transportation. In fact, the NHTSA says that just one school bus is equal to thirty-six cars and saves billions of gallons of fuel each year. 

With many students heading back to school on the bus this week, it is safe to say it is not likely that they will encounter any safety hazards on their way. From all of us at Colombo Law, we wish that you and your student have a great start to the new school year.

3 Things Car Insurance Companies Don't Want You To Know

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines the word insurance as “a means of guaranteeing protection or safety”. That is what many, if not most people, think an insurance company should do. However, in many situations, that just is not what ends up happening.

We rely on the insurance company to be there when there is an accident and we need help covering the costs, especially when it was not our fault. Nevertheless, like any other corporation, the priority of an insurance company is the bottom line and the interests of the shareholders. In many situations, the financial interests of the insurance company will be more important to them than their duty to fairly compensate the victims of accidents. For this reason, there are three things that an insurance company hopes people never figure out.

1.     The Insurance Company is looking out for their own interests and Shareholder interests, not yours.  

Insurance companies try to take advantage of people’s inexperience within these types of situations. They assume that you probably have little, if any, experience dealing with insurance claims and they will try to use this to benefit their own interests. This is because it is in their best interests to settle for as cheaply as possible. Meaning, their main duty is to the company and its shareholders. They are not concerned with making sure that all of your expenses are covered in the end.

In many cases, you might be in treatment for some time following your accident and there is no way that you will have an accurate idea of what it is going to cost to treat or resolve your injuries right after an accident. What would happen if you agreed to something right after the accident, only to discover that your medical bills far exceed the amount you agreed to? Would you be able to cover the costs? Ultimately, it would not be in you or your family’s best interest if you are left having to pay out of pocket the costs of medical bills that exceed your settlement. It is better to wait and see what all of your expenses will be, instead of settling before you know what your expenses will be. The statute of limitations is two years for most personal injury cases, so there is time that your could use to figure out what expenses could end up amounting to.

Additionally, there is a possibility that the insurance company will try to delay payment all together. This can result in investing much of your time trying to figure out how to get the money you are owed, especially if you do not have legal representation. And if you need financial help to cover expenses, this can be a stressful ordeal that you do not deserve. In some cases the Insurance companies hope that people will give up and not pursue things further so that they can get away without having to pay you anything. 

2.     Insurance companies could try to use your personal information against you to reduce the amount of money they offer you in a settlement.

It is important to be aware of the fact that what you say or provide to the insurance company can hurt your claim and the chances of you being able to be fairly compensated following an accident that was not your fault.

There are many instances where the at-fault party’s insurance company will want you to sign a release of your medical records for them to see them. However, often times, this is a release of your ENTIRE medical history, not just the medical history related to the accident. It is important to note that you don’t have to sign anything given to you by the insurance company. While the insurance agency will eventually need to know how much your treatment for injuries related to the accident cost, they should not have access to records from 1997 when your accident happened in 2014. Insurance companies may try to use your medical information from the past against you to reduce their costs by saying that the injury caused by the car accident was actually a preexisting condition. This is why it is important to seek legal advice when you are dealing with the at-fault party’s insurance, because they will try to use your inexperience against you and prevent you from being justly compensated.

Another tactic Insurance companies might try to use, is taking what you say and using it against you by twisting it to their benefit. Any statement or admission you make to the insurance company may be used against you, even if it was innocent and you misspoke. There have been occasions where a claims adjuster has taken statements made by the injured party out of context or twisted the words to hurt the claim and save the company money at the expense of the victim. For this reason it is important to never consent to having the insurance company record your phone conversations.

3.     It is in your best interest to get legal advice from an experienced lawyer. 

An experienced personal injury lawyer knows the tactics the insurance company will try to use and knows how the system works. The lawyer’s main focus is making sure that you, their client, has their best interests represented and protected.

An insurance company has a team of lawyers, whose focus is making sure that you receive the least amount of money possible, even if that means that you are not fully and fairly compensated. Getting advice from an experienced attorney will help protect you from being taken advantage of by the at-fault party’s insurance. Your attorney will keep you from having to handle the headaches from dealing with the insurance company alone and being at a major disadvantage of dealing with the insurance company’s team of lawyers who are against you. Since an experienced lawyer knows how the system works, he or she will handle everything for you and prevent you from being taken advantage of and denied what you deserve.

An attorney is also skilled in figuring out what you deserve as the victim, and what a good offer is in your case. Your lawyer will stand by your side and guide you through the process. Also, he or she will make sure that the settlement you receive will cover both your short term and long term costs, because you have your best interests represented and protected.

If you have been harmed by another driver and think you need legal advice, call Colombo Law at (888) 860-1414. Our team of experienced lawyers will work to protect you and your best interests when evaluating your case.

The Silent Hazard: Coal Dust's Deadly Effects.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are still tens of thousands of Americans who work in the coal mining industry. Workers in this industry face the dangers of heavy machinery, cave-ins, fires, and explosions on a daily basis. However, coal dust poses health risks equivalent to the other dangers in a mine.

The CDC states that Black Lung Disease, a type of pneumoconiosis, is caused by breathing coal dust into the lungs. Additionally, this disease is frequently related to the exposure in the workplace setting and causes breathing difficulties and other symptoms. In 2008, NIOSH reported that 10,000 people had died from black lung disease over the past decade. This disease and its harmful effects can be prevented if the proper precautions are taken in the workplace. The American Lung Association suggests that masks are worn at all times and that precautions, like the proper cleaning to remove coal dust from the body and clothing and refraining from eating or drinking in certain areas that have coal dust, be taken to prevent this disease.

In 1969 the United States Congress passed the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act to develop safety standards and prevent Black Lung Disease. However, employees in the coal mining industry continue to suffer from this disease. The American Lung Association reports that there is no cure for this disease, but medical care can address symptoms and help manage difficulties with breathing.

If you have been exposed to coal dust and are experiencing symptoms of Black Lung Disease, it is important to be examined by a medical professional to receive a diagnosis and medical care that can help cope with the symptoms.

If you are suffering from this disease, you may be entitled to compensation. It is important that you call our legal team at Colombo Law at 1-888-860-1414 and we will help you get the compensation you deserve.

The Ultimate Auto Emergency Kit Guide.

Although no one wants to be in an auto accident or have their car breakdown, there are many situations in which these things occur despite the precautions taken by drivers. This is why being prepared with an Emergency Kit is an important step to prevent additional problems in these situations.

Unfortunately, cars break down or are involved in auto accidents everyday. Because these things are so common it is important that all drivers make sure that their cars have an emergency kits. These kits can provide life saving materials that are helpful in the event of any emergency. If you do not have a kit, it can be purchased in most automotive stores, or can be easily put together at home.

Emergency kits typically include several tools that are helpful in the event of an accident or a breakdown. We have compiled a list of 15 things every driver needs to have. While this list is not exclusive, every driver needs to have these life saving things:

  1. Emergency cell phone chargers
  2. Road Flares or Warning Triangles/Cones
  3. First Aid Kit
  4. Flashlight and Batteries
  5. Glass hammer and seat-belt cutter
  6. Multipurpose tool
  7. Fire Extinguisher
  8. Tire Gauge
  9. Jumper Cables
  10. Gloves
  11. Duct tape
  12. Water
  13. Food
  14. Blanket
  15. Rain Poncho

It is always important to be prepared for the worst. Having the right tools and knowing what to do in the event of an emergency can help keep you and your family safe.

Feel free to comment on this post if you think we missed something or you have a story about how one of the items on our list helped you in an auto emergency. 

The Hidden Hazard On Wet Roads

We have seen our fair share of wet weather this summer in Morgantown. According to Weather Underground, since June 1, we have seen 34 days with rain and an overall rain accumulation of 9.75 inches. This weather has definitely had an effect on the safety of the drivers and their passengers on the road. 

When it rains, the water accumulates on the road and the friction that helps your car maintain traction is reduced. This makes it more likely to hydroplane or skid. However, many people do not know the roads are the most slippery during the first few minutes of rainfall.

Why is that?

During good weather, oil and grease from the cars on the road falls to the surface and accumulates. These substances remain on the road until the next rainfall. In intersections where cars are stopped for longer amounts of time and there is more traffic flow through that area, there is more accumulation. This, when it first starts to rain, is typically the slickest part of a road. When it begins to rain, the water mixes with the oil and grease making the roads slicker and more hazardous. This only becomes more dangerous the faster the car is traveling. The risk from slippery roads remains for around 10 minutes, depending on the intensity of the rain, until the slippery substances are washed away.

What do you do?

Be prepared for wet weather when you are on the roads. This includes keeping your windshield wipers in good condition, tires inflated correctly, and maintaining good tire tread. In addition, know that when it is raining you will need to use your headlights and drive slower than you normally would. You will also need to keep a greater length between you and the car in front of you, because it takes longer to stop during wet conditions.

If you find yourself hydroplaning, do not brake suddenly. Slowly take your foot off of the gas until your car slows and you can tell your tires are touching the road again. If you need to brake, you can either lightly pump your brakes if your car does not have anti-lock brakes (ABS) or brake normally if your car does have ABS.

If you find yourself in a skid, gently take your foot off the gas and steer the car or truck into the skid. If you have ABS you can brake firmly as you turn. If your car is not equipped with ABS do not apply your brakes.

Each year many people are harmed due to driving in rainy conditions. According to the Federal Highway Administration there are on average 595,900 crashes each year due to the rain. Therefore, knowing how to avoid dangerous situations and where hazards are likely to exist can help prevent accidents in future rainy weather.

Discover the Dangers of Drowsy Driving

Have you ever driven while tired or fallen asleep while driving? Surprisingly, many people would answer "yes" to this statement. This is a scary reality that poses a threat to many motorists and their passengers everyday.

The National Sleep Foundation indicates that tiredness impairs driving ability and judgment, may cause drivers to be more aggressive, and causes other issues that affect driving performance. NHTSA reports that more than 83,000 accidents have been caused by people driving while tired. This number, however, may be underestimating the extent to which fatigue actually contributes to traffic accidents since no test exists to measure the sleepiness of a driver. 

The most important thing that drivers can do to prevent crashes and save lives is to be aware of things that put you at risk for fatigued driving and know the warning signs.

The National Sleep Foundation has listed several warning signs of drowsy driving:

  • Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids
  • Daydreaming; wandering/disconnected thoughts
  • Trouble remembering the last few miles driven; missing exits or traffic signs
  • Yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes
  • Trouble keeping your head up
  • Drifting from your lane, tailgating, or hitting a shoulder rumble strip
  • Feeling restless and irritable

The NCSDR and NHTSA’s “Drowsy Driving and Automobile Crashes” indicated several risk factors:

  • Sleep Loss
  • Driving Patterns
  • The Use of Sedating Medications
  • Untreated Sleep Disorders: Sleep Apnea Syndrome and Narcolepsy
  • Consumption of Alcohol Interacts With Sleepiness To Increase Drowsiness and Impairment
  • Interactions Among Factors Increase Overall Risk

 In addition to these risk factors, the NCSDR and the NHTSA mentions that people aged 16-19 and more males than females are likely to drive drowsy.

So, what would you do if you started feeling tired behind the wheel?

You can do many things to prevent accidents and stay safe if you start to feel tired while driving. AAA offers many suggestions to those who feel tired while driving. Some of these suggestions were to take a break, drink coffee or another caffeinated beverage, and travel with a passenger with you. 

Being aware of these warning signs and if you are at risk, along with what to do when you become tired, can prevent accidents and save lives.

What You Need To Know Before Severe Weather Strikes

Severe Weather – The Importance of Safety and Preparedness

West Virginia has seen its fair share of severe weather in recent months. It is important to be prepared for severe weather in order to prevent property damage and bodily injuries.


A thunderstorm is considered severe if it produces hail at least 1 inch in diameter or has wind gusts of at least 58 miles per hour. Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which kills more people some years than tornadoes or hurricanes. Heavy rain from thunderstorms can cause flash flooding. High winds can damage homes and blow down trees and utility poles, causing widespread power outages. Every year people are killed or seriously injured because they didn't hear or ignored severe thunderstorms warnings.

The following safety tips could save your life during a severe weather event:

  • Listen to local news or NOAA Weather Radio for emergency updates. Watch for signs of a storm, like darkening skies, lightning flashes or increasing wind.
  • If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightning. If thunder roars, go indoors! Don't wait for rain. Lightning can strike out of a clear blue sky.
  • Avoid electrical equipment and corded telephones. Cordless phones, cell phones and other wireless handheld devices are safe to use.
  • Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower, do not wash dishes, and do not do laundry. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
  • Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
  • If you are driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends.
  • If you are outside and cannot reach a safe building, avoid high ground; water; tall, isolated trees; and metal objects such as fences or bleachers. Picnic shelters, dugouts and sheds are NOT safe.

Also, the following definitions are useful to remember when severe weather threatens:

  1. Severe Thunderstorm Watch means conditions are favorable for severe weather. Continue normal activity, but monitor weather conditions closely.
  2. Severe Thunderstorm Warning means to seek shelter immediately and monitor conditions on radio or television. Follow all of the above instructions until the storm passes.
  3. Tornado Watch means there is a possibility of one or more tornadoes in your area. Continue normal activity but monitor weather conditions closely.
  4. Tornado Warning means a tornado has been sighted and may be approaching -- seek shelter immediately.


Floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States, however not all floods are alike. Some floods develop slowly, while others such as flash floods, can develop in just a few minutes and without visible signs of rain.

Flash floods can occur within a few minutes or hours of excessive rainfall, a dam or levee failure, or a sudden release of water held by an ice jam. Flash floods often have a dangerous wall of roaring water carrying rocks, mud and other debris. Overland flooding, the most common type of flooding event typically occurs when waterways such as rivers or streams overflow their banks as a result of rainwater or a possible levee breach and cause flooding in surrounding areas. It can also occur when rainfall or snowmelt exceeds the capacity of underground pipes, or the capacity of streets and drains designed to carry flood water away from urban areas.

Be aware of flood hazards no matter where you live or work, but especially if you are in low-lying areas, near water, behind a levee or downstream from a dam. Even very small streams, gullies, creeks, culverts, dry streambeds or low-lying ground that appear harmless in dry weather can flood.

Take Action

The best way to be prepared for severe weather is to develop an emergency plan based on your local weather hazards and practice your plan. Your family may not be together when a disaster strikes so it is important to plan in advance: how you will get to a safe place; how you will contact one another; how you will get back together; and what you will do in different situations. has made it simple for you to make a family emergency plan. Download the Family Communication Plan for Parents and Kids (PDF) and fill out the sections before printing it or emailing it to your family and friends.

A Special Thanks to the Motorcyclists

This past Saturday, July 25, Colombo Law held a cookout in the office parking lot. Thankfully, we had good weather and were able to give away free hotdogs, bottled water, and other items to those on their way to the motorcycle rally. Our Colombo Law team enjoyed having the opportunity to meet all of the motorcyclists and others in town for the events going on this past week.

We also continued the $500 Cabela’s Gift Card giveaway this Saturday.

Thank you to everyone who stopped by or helped this weekend to help make this event possible. We had a great time this saturday. From all of us at Colombo Law we hope all the motorcycle riders have a safe trip home and enjoyed their time in Morgantown and at our cookout.

10 Safety Tips for Exploring West Virginia this Summer

With the sunny weather and the abundance of hiking trails nearby, now is the best time to take advantage of what the Mountain State has to offer. With great parks and mountains in our backyard, a hike at a place like Cooper’s Rock or the Monongahela National Forest is a great opportunity to discover why West Virginia is considered “almost heaven”.Take a moment to explore the great outdoors this summer, but before you go, the first step you make should be making sure that you are prepared to have a safe hike.

We’ve come up with 10 tips to make sure you get the most out of your hike and that you return home safely:

1. Get hydrated and eat before you go
  • Drink water before you go on the hike. Staying hydrated is an essential part of staying fit and able to travel from Point A to Point B without a problem. It is easy to get dehydrated when the weather is warm, so always bring a water bottle with you and drink enough to replace what water you have lost. The American Hiking Society advises people to look out for headaches, an early sign of dehydration, since dehydration can put people at risk for heat stroke or other complications.
  • Eat a meal before you go to make sure that you have enough energy. The American Hiking Society also recommends bringing extra food with you. This can help keep your strength up and keep you able to make it back safely.
2. Wear the proper clothing and footwear
  • The proper clothing and footwear can help prevent injuries. Having shoes with good tread, like hiking boots or other shoes made for trails, can help prevent you from slipping and falling on a variety of ground conditions. In addition, wearing pants and shirts with long sleeves is a way to give you extra protection in the event that you fall.
3. Bring the necessary gear
  • Make sure that you bring the right gear to get you through the hike. It is important to use sunscreen and insect repellent and reapply as needed throughout the hike.  
  • Make sure you bring a cell phone and that it is charged. If you have signal, it can help you call for help quickly. Bring a safety whistle. This can also be used to call for help in the event of an emergency.
  • A small first aid kit and an EpiPen (if you have an allergy) are essential items to bring. These can help address some injuries that may happen.
  • While this is not everything you might need, these items shouldn't be overlooked when preparing to leave.
4. Bring a friend
  • Hiking with another individual can help keep you safe. Having at least one person go with you can make sure that you both are looking out for each other and for safety hazards. This is also useful in addressing anything that may occur, since there is a greater chance that at least one person in your group will be able to try to find help.
5. Use a map and stay on the trail
  • Many trails at state and national parks are marked and you are able to follow the markings along the trail to keep on the right path. A map will typically show what the color, or the symbol that is used to mark the trail that you are on. These are there for your safety and to make sure you do not get lost. Remember to keep a look out for trail markings to make sure that you are on the right path.
  • Simple things like following a map and planning out your hike ahead of time can also prevent you from getting lost or winding up in an unsafe area. Especially, if the place you are at does not have marked trails.
6. Watch out for poisonous plants
  • Plants like poison ivy or poison oak can definitely cause issues for those hiking in the woods. These plants are known to cause a rash when it comes in contact with skin. This can be particularly worse if a person has a severe allergy to the plant.
  • There are repellents that can be applied to the skin before hiking to prevent a reaction or lessen the effects of the oil.  There is also a variety of ways to cleanse the skin after coming in contact with the plant to reduce the chances of breaking out in the rash.
  • The easiest way to avoid these plans is to make sure you know what they look like. This can help you avoid them in the first place and know whether you need to wash your skin and clean clothing or shoes to remove the oil (the oil from poisonous plants can stay in clothing for a good amount of time and cause future issues).
7. Look out for wild life and hazardous insects
  • West Virginia is home to many species of insects and animals that could turn your pleasant day outside into a nightmare.
  • There are two species of poisonous snakes in the Mountain State: the rattlesnake and the copper head. The simplest way to avoid them is to stay on the trail and to keep an eye out for them or anywhere they could be (under a rock or in a hole, for example). If you come across a snake, turn around and go back the other way.
  • There are many other animals that you may encounter while hiking. In the chance that this does occur, keep your distance and limit any sudden movements.
  • Also, look out for harmful insects. There may be yellow jacket or other stinging/biting insect nests on or near the trail. Ticks and mosquitoes are also present in West Virginia, so be sure to use bug spray containing deet to reduce the chance of being bitten by a disease-carrying insect.
8. Keep an eye on ground conditions and the trail ahead
  • There are many things on a trail that can cause you to slip and fall. Things like wet stones or rocks, or other slippery surfaces can result in you falling forward or backward. The more steep the trail, the greater the risk of falling. Having shoes with enough tread or a hiking stick can help keep you stabilized as you navigate through the trail.
  • Look out for changes in the trail's surroundings. Be aware of any steep drops next to the trail and take precautions.
9. Tell someone where you will be and when you should be back
  • The National Park Service recommends for people to let someone know of their plans before leaving. Simply telling a friend or family member where you are going and when you should be back is a good way to keep yourself safe in the event that you are lost or injured on your hike and are not able to find help. This is because they know generally where you were going and will know to call for help if you don’t get back around the time you said you were going to return. 
10. Rest
  • If you get tired, take a break. This is an easy way to help prevent injury help you return home safely.

These tips can help make sure that you adventure outdoors stays safe and enjoyable for everyone you are with. Take advantage of the good weather and the endless opportunities to see what all West Virginia has for us to do and see.