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One Dead After Mine Collapse Near Cameron, WV

A coal miner died late Sunday following a roof collapse at the Marshall County Coal Co.'s Marshall County Mine near Cameron. Two other people were injured in the collapse.

Marshall County Emergency Management Director Tom Hart said the initial call to his office came in after 9:30 p.m. Sunday. He said reports did not indicate how many individuals were involved in the accident, which was reported as a roof collapse.

After arriving on scene, responders confirmed three individuals were trapped inside the Cameron Portal as a result of the collapse. After working to get to those individuals, crews air lifted one to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, while another was taken via ambulance to Wheeling Hospital. A third victim was pronounced dead at the scene, Hart said.

Hart said the cause of the accident remains under investigation, and any additional information -- including the names of those involved -- would be released by Murray Energy Corp., which is the parent company of the Marshall County Coal Co. Murray Energy released a statement late Sunday confirming the accident, and noted an investigation into what happened is underway.

Hart said portions of the road near the portal were closed Sunday as crews worked at the scene. Units from the Cameron Fire Department, Cameron Police Department and State Police responded.

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WV Distracted Driving - Highway Safety Plan 2015

West Virginia Legislature passed a cell phone/texting ban while driving law in the 2012 Legislative session. The law, which went into effect July 1, 2012, prohibits texting or using a cell phone without the use of hands-free technology while operating a motor vehicle. Operating a motor vehicle while texting or using a cell phone is a primary offense in West Virginia.

Despite these primary laws banning handheld device use and, texting for all drivers, and all cell phone use for novice drivers, distracted driving is still a problem in West Virginia. The Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) conducts surveys of drivers regarding their attitudes and awareness of programs addressing seat belt use, speeding, and impaired driving. Respondents were asked to self-report how often they talk on a cell phone and text when driving their vehicles. Just over 50 percent of the respondents indicated they talk on the cell phone some, most, or all of the time, while 37 – 40 percent reported texting while driving some, most, or all of the time. It should be noted that “some of the time” was by far the most prevalent answer among these three responses.

In the 1990s, West Virginia embraced the community/regional approach to traffic safety and the state continues to believe this is the most efficient approach in dealing with traffic safety problems and issues. The State is divided into eight regions based on geography and demographics.

The Division of Highways provided $1,000,000 to the GHSP for FFY 2015 to provide awareness, education, and enforcement programs which address distracted driving. The Governor’s Highway Safety Program continues to fund traffic safety initiatives throughout the eight Regional Traffic Safety Programs throughout West Virginia covering all 55 counties. These regions are tasked with traffic safety initiatives, including the prevention of cell phone/texting while driving and are tasked with conducting or facilitating at least one activity or media event on distracted driving and cell phone use/texting while driving.

Click here for more information on the GHSP’s Highway Safety Plan for FFY 2015.


Multiple Accidents Shut Down I-79 Saturday Morning

Four accident occurred between mile marker 127 and mile marker 129 on I-79 on Saturday morning. Slick roads were to blame.

According to Harrison County 911 officials, a delivery truck and a pick-up truck crashed into each other at mile marker 127 in the northbound lane around 10:30 a.m. Luckily, no one was injured. The road was shut down and traffic was backed up for miles.

The next accident happened around 11:15 a.m. at mile marker 128 in the southbound lane. An ambulance flipped on its side, shutting down both lanes. The driver of the ambulance was transported to the hospital with minor injuries.

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Clarksburg Diesel Spill on Route 25

Around 1:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon a 900 gallon diesel truck wound up in a ditch resulting an diesel to spill out in the creek that runs through the town of Mount Clare. The accident occurred when two trucks, the other a sand truck, were passing each other on Route 25. According to State Police, both trucks were trying to give one another enough room to get by when the tanker truck went too far right and wound up in a ditch.

The Department of Environmental Protection provided clean up at the scene. The Clarksburg Water Board was notified about this incident, but according to State Police there should be no change to the drinking water unless otherwise notified. Later that evening Richard Welch with the Clarksburg Water Board has confirmed that none of the diesel that was spilled during the accident reached the West Fork River, which is the primary source of drinking water for 80% of Harrison County.

There is no threat to the drinking water at this time.

West Virginia Injury Lawyers Warn of Increased Accident Risk during Winter Storms

Winter weather is expected to continue impact North Central West Virginia area this week.  Snow, sleet, and ice may make it difficult and dangerous to get around. Winter storms are often followed by a brief thawing and then refreezing which creates icy roads, sidewalks, and parking lots if they are not properly treated.  Black ice, which forms when wet surfaces freeze, is particularly hazardous to pedestrians and drivers because surfaces appear to be merely wet, but are actually a treacherous sheet of ice.  People who are injured in weather related accidents on icy surfaces may be entitled to collect compensation for their injuries if a slip and fall accident or a car accident occurred because of someone else’s negligence.

Car Accidents

As evidenced by the recent car accidents on icy roads, winter weather creates extremely dangerous driving conditions. Icy road conditions led to accidents all across North Central West Virginia Monday evening. Some roads were shut down while crews cleared scenes or treated roads. The Monongalia County Homeland Security Emergency Management Agency Facebook page is regularly updated with road closings.

With more winter weather expected to impact our region, we remind drivers to avoid travelling in icy conditions whenever possible.  If you must venture out in your car, drive slowly, carefully, and heed all emergency warnings.  Drivers must be extra vigilant during winter storms, and avoid all distractions, such as texting and talking on the phone while driving in the snow.  Victims who are injured in car accidents hat occur on icy roads may be entitled to collect compensation for their injuries from a liable driver.

Slip and Fall Accidents

Property owners and managers of commercial properties including stores, malls, places of business, hotels, apartment buildings, and condominiums are required to maintain reasonably safe conditions to reduce the risk of accidental injury to visitors on their property.  This includes removing snow and ice hazards from walkways, sidewalks, and parking lots by shoveling, plowing, salting, or sanding.  If a slip and fall accident happens due to hazardous conditions that could have been foreseen and prevented, a property owner or manager may be liable for any injuries sustained as a result of their negligence.

If you have sustained injuries as a result of a slip and fall or car accident that occurred in the snow or ice, you will need to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer with the knowledge and ability to successfully pursue your claim.  Establishing liability, particularly in multi-vehicle accidents, requires fine-tuned skills and attention to detail.  We offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case. For more information, call us toll-free at 1-888-860-1414, or visit our website.


Pedestrian Accidents in West Virginia: Frequently Asked Questions

A key part of any car accident injury claim is determining who is at fault. Each accident is unique, so our West Virginia car accident attorneys have to consider several different factors in each case. When a pedestrian is part of the equation, there are additional issues that must be evaluated. In this post, we answer some frequently asked questions about car accidents involving pedestrians.

Is a pedestrian accident always the driver's fault?
Every accident requires an investigation to determine liability, or who is at fault. There are instances where the pedestrian might have been reckless or negligent. Certain factors could cause a pedestrian to endanger his or her life, or to cause an accident through negligence (for example, impaired judgment due to alcohol or drug use, or a medical condition). Other accidents are caused by pedestrians who are simply distracted or careless, failing to pay attention to traffic around them. In any case, if the driver was being careful and following all traffic laws, and he or she was unable to avoid a pedestrian accident, the driver is not always legally liable. Once again, each case needs to be weighed separately.

If I am the driver and someone intentionally ran out in front of me, can I sue the pedestrian?
In a small number of cases, it can be possible to take legal action against the pedestrian, but it is extremely difficult: it is much easier to build a case against a driver. A case against a pedestrian requires witness statements and clear-cut evidence to demonstrate that the pedestrian was primarily at fault for the accident. In some situations, it may be possible to seek damages from other responsible parties, if it can be shown that they contributed to the pedestrian's actions.

As a pedestrian accident victim, when can I sue a driver?
If you can establish that the driver was at least partially at fault for your injuries in a pedestrian accident (for example, the driver was negligent, or impaired, or speeding, etc.), you are entitled to pursue a lawsuit. The amount you can recover is limited by the percentage the driver was at fault. That is one reason why it can be beneficial to consult a lawyer, whether you were the pedestrian or the driver: to determine the percentage of liability, and therefore the viability of a personal injury suit.

Can I seek damages from other parties (besides the driver who hit me) in a pedestrian accident?
Here again, it depends on the nature of the accident - but in certain cases, it's possible that another party could bear some measure of responsibility. For example, if the signal light was malfunctioning, or if the crosswalk or sidewalk were in disrepair, and these factors contributed to an accident, then the city or county responsible for maintenance could be found at least partially liable.

What if, as a pedestrian, the accident was partially my fault?
In many cases, you can still pursue an injury claim. It depends on several different issues, including the percentage of your fault and the specific circumstances of the accident (witnesses, road and traffic conditions, what actions were taken to avoid the accident, what traffic laws were - or weren't - being followed, etc). It is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible: you'll want to have the accident investigated by a professional in accident reconstruction, so you can make a decision about the best way to move forward.

Each case is different and requires individual attention. If you've been involved in a pedestrian accident in North Central West Virginia, contact our office to find out if we can help. We offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case. For more information, call us toll-free at 1-888-860-1414, or visit our website.

Precautionary Evacuation In Progress Near Longview Power Plant Due to Fire

Monongalia County Homeland Security Emergency Management Agency has issued an evacuation order for a one mile radius area of Longview Power Plant on Fort Martin Road. Fort Martin Road also is closed.

Emergency responders are at the scene with an active methane gas fire within the coal-fired power plant, according to Mike Wolfe, director of the Monongalia Emergency Centralized Communications Agency.  The order is being issued as a precaution, according to a statement released by the agency. One of six tanks, each containing several thousand gallons of methane gas, has caught on fire, although it has not exploded, according to Mr. Wolfe.

Emergency officials believe they have contacted everyone living in the 10 residences located within one mile of the power plant while emergency responders from a half-dozen fire departments and from the Monongalia County Hazardous Materials Team are on scene and are working to get the fire under control. No other combustible materials are near the fire.

“They have been able to turn off the gas leading into the plant, they just haven't been able to make contact with the tank itself that is on fire,” Mr. Wolfe said.

There are no reported injuries and all employees have been safely evacuated. However, anyone in the one mile area of the power plant is still urged to evacuate toward Route 100.  A shelter is available for anyone who is displaced at the Granville Fire Social Hall in Granville. 


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.

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