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May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

West Virginia motorcyclists have been waiting through a long winter to get back on their bikes. As the season warms up, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) wants to remind bikers and motorists to share the road and stay safe. May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, a time for riders and drivers to remember to share the road, follow laws, and stay abreast of safety protocol to stay accident-free this riding season.

Motorcycle Safety Awareness month is an opportunity to remind all drivers and riders that we have a responsibility to be aware of other vehicles on the road. Taking this time to remember to driver safely can help prevent future accidents, injuries, and fatalities. Our West Virginia motorcycle accident attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of victims. We are also abreast of safety initiatives and directives focused on keeping West Virginia riders safe. If you or someone you love has been injured in a motorcycle accident, our legal team is also prepared to aggressively defend your interests to recover the compensation necessary in the wake of a serious collision.

According to the NHTSA, 80 percent of motorcycle accidents result in injury or death. This figure is much lower for automobile accidents (only 20%), underscoring the reality that riders face significantly more risk when involved in a crash. Other factors, including visibility, can also make riders more susceptible to crashes, injuries, and fatalities. Motorcyclists are harder to see than other motorists in cars, SUVs, or trucks, so it is important for other drivers to be aware of more riders on the road during the spring and summer months. It is not uncommon for a driver to misjudge how close a motorcycle is or how fast a biker is riding, which can make it more difficult to prevent a collision in the event of an error.

After a long winter, drivers may get used to roads without motorcycles, making them less wary, especially in the spring and early summer months. May is the time for riders as well as motorists to be alert and prepared. Whether driving in the city, on country roads, the interstate, during the day or at night, it is important to watch out for motorcycle riders. According to the NHTSA, motorcyclists are 39 times more likely to die in an accident than a passenger in a car. The injuries sustained by a rider are usually more life-threatening and can be permanent.

Drivers should remember to check mirrors and blind spots. The majority of motorcycle accidents occur at intersections or during a lane change. In addition to driver awareness, motorcyclists should also be cautious. Don't assume that a driver sees you. Riders should also be careful of turning too fast or otherwise losing control of their bike.

Remember that a high number of motorcycle fatalities involve single vehicle accidents. 
There are important precautions that driver and riders can take before heading out on the road this season. Always watch your speed, be wary of your surroundings, and never drive while texting or distracted. Riders should wear protective gear and be proactive to stay visible to other drivers. 

If you have been injured contact an experienced motorcycle attorney. Colombo Law been representing accident victims and their families in Morgantown, Fairmont, Clarksburg, Bridgeport, Weston, and throughout West Virginia for years. Call us today to schedule a free and confidential appointment to discuss your case at 1-304-599-4229.

Two WV Coal Mining Deaths Tied To Dangerous Mining Method

A disaster at a West Virginia coal mine with a history of violations killed two men who were engaged in "retreat mining," a process that an expert Tuesday called "the most dangerous type of [coal] mining you can do."

The West Virginia men -- Eric D. Legg, 48, of Twilight and Gary P. Hensley, 46, of Chapmanville -- died Monday night at Brody Mine No. 1 near Wharton in Boone County, about 50 miles south of the state capital of Charleston.

The fatalities mark the nation's fourth and fifth coal-mining deaths this year, according to the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration. Federal and state inspectors were on scene at the mine, which is owned by Patriot Coal Co. in St. Louis.

The accident drew statements of sympathy from West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and his wife, Joanne, as well as from Mike Day, Patriot's executive vice president of operations.

The accident happened around 8:30 p.m. Monday, trapping the miners for a time before their bodies were recovered. By Tuesday, it was still not entirely clear what happened. Patriot cited a "severe coal burst" during "retreat mining operations" as the cause. The mining administration said it was due to a "ground failure." And the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training called it a "coal outburst."

Tony Oppegard, a former MSHA official and now a private lawyer in Kentucky who represents miners, said it sounded like an unexpected roof collapse might have occurred during the final phase of the operation.

In coal mining, when work is advancing, machinery makes wide tunnels and leaves pillars of coal holding up the roof. During retreat mining, after miners have gone as far as they can, they work their way backwards, cutting the pillars, recovering the remaining coal, and intentionally causing the roof to collapse in front of them.

When engaging in retreat mining -- colloquially known as "pillar pulling" -- companies are supposed to file a detailed plan with MSHA before proceeding, Mr. Oppegard said. They are also expected to educate the miners who will be doing the work about the plan.

But, he said, "Usually when we have fatalities on pillar sections it's because the company was not following the pillar plan and/or the miners were not adequately trained in the pillar plan."

As each row of pillars is removed, additional pressure from the rock above is placed on the remaining coal pillars, causing "extreme squeezing," Mr. Oppegard said. Sometimes that is enough to cause a pillar to explode, leading to a collapse.

It is also possible that a planned pillar removal can cause the roof to collapse beyond the row of pillars being cut.

In October, the Mine Safety and Health Administration put three mining operations -- out of nearly 15,000 in the nation -- on notice of a pattern of violations, including Brody Mine No. 1.

"A POV notice, one of the agency's toughest enforcement actions, is reserved for the mines that pose the greatest risk to the safety of miners," said an administration news release at the time.

The Brody mine received 253 "significant and substantial" violations.

A federal audit found that injured miners accounted for 1,757 lost work days at the mine. Of those, 367 lost work days stemmed from eight injuries that Brody failed to report, the news release said.

Patriot disagreed with the federal government's description of its safety record.

"During the period of time it has operated as a Patriot subsidiary, the Brody mine has made considerable and measurable progress toward improved safety and compliance," Patriot said in a statement responding to the government findings.

Patriot acquired Brody Mining at the end of 2012.

"Many of the violations and the severity measure cited in the POV finding took place under the prior owner," Patriot said. "Immediately following Patriot's purchase of Brody, on January 3, 2013, the company submitted a Compliance Improvement Plan to MSHA. Since that time, the Brody mine compliance performance (as measured by violations per inspector day) has improved by 40 percent."

Patriot also said it replaced all former officers and "key mine-level managers" at Brody.

In September Patriot submitted a Corrective Action Plan to MSHA, which was approved.

Mr. Oppegard, however, noted that violations have continued into 2014, with the most recent listed on the MSHA website from May 7.

Three violations from this year were problematic enough to be considered red flags, he said.

For more information

Safest Cars of 2014

Below is the list of the safest 2014 model passenger vehicles categorized by vehicle class, as reported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Among these, 17 achieved a rating of “Top Safety Pick”, and 22 earned the highest honor of “Top Safety Pick+”. 

Those selected as “Top Safety Pick” models did so by earning a score of “good” in four tested areas: moderate front overlap collision, roof strength, head restraint and side collision. Additionally, the “Top Safety Pick” vehicles required a “good” or “acceptable” rating on the new-for-2012 small front overlap collision test.

Those selected as “Top Safety Pick+” models achieved the same test ratings as those above. They earned additional distinction by employing effective means of collision-avoidance, such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC) or Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), including both automated braking and driver alerts.

With new collision tests and stricter safety standards, the number of U.S. passenger vehicles that have earned the top two honors from the IIHS have dropped from 130 in 2013 to only 39 in 2014.

Here are the 2014 winners, listed by IIHS categories:

Vehicles awarded “TOP SAFETY PICK” for 2014:

Minicar

Chevrolet Spark

Small cars

Dodge Dart

Ford Focus

Honda Civic (2-door)

Hyundai Elantra

Scion tC

Subaru Impreza

Subaru XV Crosstrek

Midsize moderately priced cars

Chrysler 200 (4-door)

Dodge Avenger

Kia Optima

Nissan Altima

Toyota Camry (built after November 2013)

Volkswagen Passat

Midsize luxury/near-luxury car

Acura TL

Small SUV

Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

Midsize luxury SUV

Volvo XC90

Winners of “TOP SAFETY PICK+” for 2014:

Small cars

Honda Civic (4-door hybrid only)

Mazda 3 (built after October 2013)

Toyota Prius (built after November 2013)

Midsize moderately priced cars

Ford Fusion

Honda Accord (2-door)

Honda Accord (4-door)

Mazda 6

Subaru Legacy

Subaru Outback

Midsize luxury/near-luxury cars

Infiniti Q50

Lincoln MKZ

Volvo S60

Large luxury cars

Acura RLX

Volvo S80

Small SUVs

Mazda CX-5 (built after October 2013)

Mitsubishi Outlander

Subaru Forester

Midsize SUV

Toyota Highlander

Midsize luxury SUVs

Acura MDX

Mercedes-Benz M-Class (built after August 2013)

Volvo XC60

Minivan

Honda Odyssey

The law firm of Colombo Law represents clients who have suffered serious personal injury or the death of a loved one due to trucking accidents, products liability, workplace accidents, motorcycle accidents, and automobile accidents.

Dino Colombo Recognized as an AVVO Superb Attorney

West Virginia attorney, Dino Colombo has been recognized with a superb rating by Avvo. A superb rating is reserved for attorneys that Avvo acknowledges as the best in the legal field. This prestigious honor is reserved for a very small, select group.

What an Avvo Superb Rating Means
Avvo rates attorneys based on a variety of factors such as their years of experience, professional achievements and recognition within the legal field. With a superb rating, Dino Colombo has been included among an elite group of attorneys rated as the highest in the country. The rating system is unbiased and based on a mathematical calculation of the above factors. Client and professional references are also included in the calculation. Clients can use Avvo to find the best rated attorneys in their area and type of legal matter.

Attorney Dino Colombo Provides Experienced Representation in a Variety of Areas 
As an experienced West Virginia lawyer, Dino Colombo focuses his practice on providing compassionate, quality representation in motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, and other personal injury cases. The highly respected Avvo rating is in line with his commitment to zealous advocacy and litigation for his clients. From initial investigation, to settlement negotiations, as well as inside the courtroom, Mr. Colombo has now been recognized as one of the best lawyers in the country.

To discuss your personal injury claim or other legal matter with a knowledgeable, highly rated West Virginia attorney, contact Dino Colombo by calling 304-599-4229 or 888-860-1414 to set up an appointment.

Route 50 Has Seen Its Fair Share of Vehicle Accidents

Route 50, which spans the state of West Virginia, has seen its fair share of accidents in the past month.  West Virginia State Police Sgt. Clint Boring said a trooper noticed damage to a guardrail near the Bonds Creek Bridge on Saturday morning. Upon exiting his patrol vehicle he noticed a vehicle had traveled about 210 ft. down the embankment between two bridges. Sgt. Boring said the driver of the vehicle had been lying in the creek for about 6 hours.  The trooper provided the driver with blankets until EMS arrived at the scene.  The driver was flown to the hospital; his name and condition have not yet been released.

Another accident occurred on April 13th when The Harrison Country Sherriff’s Department responded to a single vehicle accident on Route 50 in Salem. The accident resulted in one person being trapped under the vehicle for some time before being transported by Air Evac Lifeteam to Ruby Memorial Hospital.

Another accident occurred on April 8th when Beverly Mace of Deerwalk failed to stop her Buick station wagon at a stop sign and made a left turn into the path of a water tank truck. Mace and her passenger were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries and were later released. The driver of the water tank truck was killed after the truck flipped over the edge of Route 50 as a result of the collision. State police say a recent increase in local drilling is putting more water tank trucks on Route 50. They say drivers aren't used to sharing the road with these trucks.

A fourth accident occurred just after noon on March 29th on Route 50 in Harrison County. The vehicle was headed west when it flipped over near the Joyce Street exit, according to 911 officials. Harrison County EMS took four people to United Hospital Center. No word on the extent of injuries. The Clarksburg Fire Department also responded to the scene.

The minutes after an accident are often overwhelming and confusing but there are certain key things you must do in order to protect yourself and help your case. Click here to learn more about what to do after an accident

University High Students Participate in Driving Safety Program

According to The Century Council, underage drinking and driving fatalities are down almost 60 percent since 1991. However, thousands of teenagers die in vehicle accidents each year. The Century Council went to University High School to not only test the students’ knowledge about driving, but collect data for a national survey.

Ashley Faulkner, a UHS student and member of the FCCLA (Family, Career, Community Leaders of America) applied to have Stacey Berger and The Century Council come to UHS. Faulkner pursued the partnership "As an idea to gather data and inform students on safe driving habits and different things on distracted driving."

"It's a teen driving safety program and new drivers think they know everything," said Berger. "The challenge shows the students that they need to do a little homework to do if they want to make honor roll."

During the program, students answered questions about what could cause them to be distracted while driving and The Century Council tracked each answer the students gave for the questions.

"We're collecting data for a national study. The National study is going to be used in classrooms across the United States," said Berger. "This way teachers can more effectively educate their students on teen driver safety based on what they already know."

The 'I Know Everything' quiz is a good way to prepare young drivers for common driving mishaps. Some students were surprised at how much they knew, and didn't know.

The Century Council will be traveling across the United States to do these surveys at different high schools. They expect the research to be done by the end of the 2014 school year.

Please visit our Safe Driving Tips for West Virginians page to learn more about accident preparedness and safe driving tips. 

 

Firm involved in West Virginia Cell Tower Collapse Fined in 2009

The company that employed two of the three people killed in the collapse of a pair of cellphone towers in Clarksburg, W.Va., was sanctioned after a fatal accident in 2009 in Missouri, according to Occupational Health and Safety Administration records.

The Exponent Telegram reported Friday that OSHA cited S&S Communications with two “serious” violations after an employee fell to his death from a 330-foot communications tower in Oregon County, Mo. OSHA said the worker detached his harness but should have had a secondary tether. The company was fined $3,000.

“The key here is, this was a preventable accident,” said OSHA spokesman Scott Allen.

In addition, OSHA said two S&S employees were found to have “defective components” in their lanyards.

S&S Communications declined to comment Thursday.

Two workers for the Oklahoma-based company were killed last Saturday when a 300-foot tower owned by SBA Communications collapsed. One of the contractors was more than 60 feet up on the tower and the other about 20 feet up when the structure toppled. Two other workers on the tower were injured, and a firefighter also died after a second, smaller tower collapsed.

OSHA is investigating. Prentice Cline, area director for the agency’s Charleston office, said it could take up to six months to determine whether to issue any violations.

The four workers were performing maintenance to strengthen the tallest tower’s structure when it collapsed, killing 32-year-old Kyle Kirkpatrick of Hulbert, Okla., and 27-year-old Terry Lee Richard Jr. of Bokoshe, Okla., police have said. The second tower came down a few minutes later, striking Nutter Fort Volunteer Fire Department member Michael Garrett, who died at a hospital.

For more information see http://www.theet.com/news/local/company-involved-in-tower-collapse-cited-previously/article_43ed6578-8fae-11e3-afb5-0019bb2963f4.html

Three Dead, Two Injured After Cell Tower Collapse in Clarksburg

A cell tower with 4 workers collapsed just after 11:30 a.m. on Murphy's Run Road in the Summit Park area of Clarksburg.

Two men were killed and two men were injured as they were making structural repairs to the tower when it fell. They were repairing and removing old structural supports, and before any of that could be done, the tower collapsed. All four were pinned in the wreckage for sometime, said Cpl. Mark Waggamon.

Summit Park Volunteer Fire Department's Fire Chief said four contractors, subcontracted by SBA Communications, were approximately 80 to 100 feet up on the tower, and harnessed to it, when it collapsed.

A Nutter Fort Volunteer Fireman was also killed when a second tower collapsed. The second tower was weakened by the collapse of the first tower, officials said.

The two injured workers, and an additional injured firefighter were transported to Ruby Memorial hospital and United Hospital Center for treatment for non-life threatening injuries.

Nutter Fort Fire Chief Jeremy Haddix confirmed the death in a statement sent out Saturday. "It is with great sadness that the Nutter Fort Fire Department is confirming the line of duty death of one of our members. The firefighter was injured on scene in Summit Park during a secondary collapse at the cell tower, and transported to United Hospital Center," said Haddix.

The names of those who died as a result of this incident are Kyle Kirkpatrick, 32, from Hulbert, Oklahoma, Terry Lee Richard, Jr., 27, Bokoshe, Oklahoma.  Nutter Fort Volunteer Fireman Michael Dale Garrett, 28, Clarksburg, W.Va.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families of this tragedy. 

Contact our accident lawyers for a free initial consultation. Our attorneys can be reached at (304) 599-4229, or by e-mail.

Small plane crash in Upshur County

Authorities were called to the scene of a small plane crash in Upshur County Saturday night. It happened just after 5:30 p.m. on Brushy Fork Road outside of Buckhannon.

The Upshur County Sheriff's Department said James Meadows, 30, of Hendersonville, Tennessee was flying a Cirrus SR 22 aircraft to Pennsylvania when he heard a bang and his engine failed. 

The plane came down and struck a truck driven by Billy King, 42,  that was passing by on Brushy Fork Road. The plane ended up on Brushy Fork Road between Jenkins Ford and Buckhannon Toyota. Meadows and King are both uninjured. 

"I must have an angel looking over me somehow," said King of the close call. "I've been everywhere, but never had anything like this happen to me."

King moved from Greenbrier County, and lives in Upshur County. King was on his way to work in Jane Lew when the accident happened.

"I didn't see nothing, all I heard was a boom, and I thought it was one of those poles giving away because of the cold, I looked around and seen this plane and said oh my," King said.

"He called me, and I said oh lord what's going on? A plane had landed on my truck," said Delvia King, Billy's wife. "And I said a plane landed your truck? He said, there's a plane that hit my truck seriously." 

The Buckhannon Volunteer Fire Department and West Virginia State Police assisted at the scene.

The plane was following a second plane, a Grumman aircraft, which was preparing to land at the Upshur County Regional Airport to refuel.

Deputies said the Cirrus SR 22 will be taken to the Upshur County Regional Airport so the FAA can continue to investigate.

For more information: http://www.wboy.com/story/24364704/small-plane-crashes-in-upshur-county

Winter weather causes dozens of accidents in North Central West Virginia

Several 911 centers across North Central West Virginia reported dozens of vehicle accidents on Sunday morning as a result of the icy, hazardous road conditions. 

Marion County 911 said it dispatched authorities to almost 30 accidents, including one in Fairmont around 8 a.m. which involved one vehicle on Cleveland Avenue, causing one person to be trapped in the vehicle to later be taken to Ruby Memorial Hospital. Marion Country 911 said the driver hit a patch of ice and drove off of the road. 

Another accident in Tucker County resulted in one person being injured after a vehicle collision involving a snow truck. Tucker County EMS took the victim to Garrett Memorial Hospital in Maryland. No word on the extent of his or her injuries.

About 25 weather-related wrecks were reported in Kanawha County by mid-Sunday afternoon. Ice, slush, snow and ponding water all posed travel dangers as the weather shifted from snow to rain. The National Weather Service said there is a flood watch for Kanawha and surrounding areas from 1 p.m. Sunday through Monday afternoon.

While accidents during hazardous conditions may not always be preventable, there are precautions that can be taken to help prevent them. Read more to find out how you can prepare yourself for hazardous driving condition in West Virginia. 

If you have been the victim of an accident at the fault of another due to their unsafe driving practices it is important that you contact an attorney immediately. If you or a family member has been injured in a car crash, please contact our car accident lawyers for a free initial consultation. Our attorneys can be reached at (304) 599-4229, or by e-mail.