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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.

Thunderstorms

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

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.

Ready.gov 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. 

Join Us This Saturday for Free Hotdogs and Water!

Join us this Saturday, July 25, starting at 10 am for Free Hotdogs and Water.

Colombo Law and the Morgantown Convention and Visitors Bureau will be serving free hotdogs and water to anyone who stops by our law office this Saturday.

In addition to the the free food, those who come will have the opportunity to enter for a chance to win a $500 Cabela's Gift Card!

Our Location: 341 Chaplin Rd. Morgantown, WV 26501

Shocking Statistics About West Virginia's Death Rate

LiveScience researched the death rates from injuries among Americans in the different states. Their research revealed that our state, West Virginia, ranked the highest among all fifty states with about 98 deaths per 100,000 people each year.

The report stated that, “West Virginia is the state with the highest rate of death from injuries, such as those sustained in car crashes, falls, fires and drug overdoses...”. Much of these deaths, according to the research, are from accidents that are preventable.

These numbers are far too high. So many people have lost loved ones due to this accidents that did not have to happen. What can we do to change these statistics? How can we help keep more West Virginians safe?

An essential way to prevent deaths and keep people safe is taking the proper safety precautions and following the laws and regulations. Helmets, seat belts, and other safety devices that are available for our use are shown to reduce the likelihood of serious injuries and when in an accident. If more people used these devices properly we could reduce the deaths that result from crashes and wrecks.

In addition to vehicle crashes, the other accidents that are known to cause death from injury could also be preventable. With the proper safety precautions and making people aware of what they can be doing to prevent these things from happening, we could hopefully reduce the death rates here in the mountain state. Fires, falls, overdoses, car crashes, and other accidents do not have to happen. Ask yourself, “what can I do to keep myself and my family safe and prevent avoidable accidents?”

Want more information on the report discussed above? Click this link: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2015/06/18/which-state-has-highest-death-rate-from-injuries/ 

Covering the Costs: The Secrets of Compensation After an Accident.

Following an accident due to the negligent or reckless behavior of another it is common for you to have suffered some type of a loss. That loss could range anywhere from financial loss, to loss of life. There are many questions that surround a loss, one of which may be, “what compensation am I entitled to following an accident?”

In many cases, the total costs may not be immediately apparent when an accident occurs. Things like medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of the enjoyment of life, and lost wages may occur in the days, weeks, and even months following an accident. It is important to keep proper documentation over all of the costs that you incur as a result of the accident, to make sure that your expenses are fully covered.

The most common type of damages that are awarded to people following an accident are Compensatory (actual) damages. The purpose of compensatory damages are to put the injured party in the state that he or she would have been in had the accident never occurred. They are intended to fully compensate someone for the injuries he or she suffered as a result of the accident. The damages can be either economic compensatory damages or non-economic compensatory damages. Economic damages are things that are itemized or shown on a receipt, for example medical bills or lost wages. These costs that are directly related to the accident are fully compensated by compensatory damages. Additionally, non-economic compensatory damages, for example pain and suffering, inconvenience, and loss of enjoyment of life, are things that cannot be itemized. In the state of West Virginia, most personal injury actions have no cap for non-economic harm. The jury will decide what is the reasonable amount that will fully compensate someone for the injuries he or she suffered.

The plaintiff may also be entitled to damages beyond just compensatory following an accident. Punitive damages are awarded in cases where the defendant has acted intentionally or in cases of willful and wanton negligence (extreme negligence). Punitive damages are intended to serve as a deterrent and punish the person whose extreme negligence or intentional actions caused the harm.

If you think you have a claim and are wondering what compensation you might be entitled to, contact Colombo Law at 1-888-860-1414. Our team of experienced lawyers can help you determine how much you are entitled to.

Important Asbestos Information

WDTV released a story, “Asbestos: A Major Concern?”, which reported that West Virginia is one of only six states that has asbestos related death rates 50 to 100% higher than the national average. Specifically, between 1999 and 2013 West Virginia saw more than 2000 deaths related to asbestos exposure.

WDTV stated that asbestos in older homes and buildings is not something that people should be overly concerned about. This is because most of the time, it becomes a health risk when it is disturbed and asbestos dust is created. This is a common occurrence in some industries, where asbestos is used as insulation or in another capacity. However, for the person who will only come into contact with asbestos because of its presence in their home, risk of exposure can be diminished if proper precautions are taken during demolition or remodeling. Additionally, WDTV reported that it could take up to thirty years after exposure to develop asbestos related illness.

For more information about WDTV’s story, CLICK HERE.


 Additional information on asbestos exposure:

According to Asbestos.com exposure to asbestos is related to serious respiratory diseases and cancers: mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, among several others. Exposure occurs when asbestos dust, created when the substance is disturbed, is inhaled or swallowed. Typically, people who are more likely to suffer from the effects of asbestos are the ones who incurred heavy, repeated exposure.  Although this substance is naturally occurring, it is used in industries, like shipbuilding and construction, for almost 100 years. Furthermore, it was not until the 1970s when regulations and laws were finally put in place to protect people from asbestos and its effects.

Asbestos.com mentions that common sources of asbestos exposure are military work, products that are used in homebuilding and construction (drywall, insulation, tiling, etc.), occupations (electricians, firefighters, mechanics, and several others), and workplaces (shipyards, power plants, metal works, among others). To add, there are also risks of environmental release from natural disasters or mining, and secondary exposure from people who bring fibers out of the worksite accidentally. Additionally, this site mentioned that in West Virginia, the common source of exposure is coal mining, coal refineries, metalworking, and power plants.

Finally, this site states that inhaled asbestos fibers accumulate in people and cause scarring and inflammation, which can lead to further complications and diseases. This may take many years for diseases and other health concerns to develop from these fibers being trapped in the lungs and respiratory system.

If you think that there is a possibility that you have been exposed to asbestos, make sure that you see a healthcare professional for a medical evaluation. Additionally, if there is a possibility that asbestos may have been used in your home or the products in your home, be sure to consult a qualified professional who can determine how to prevent disturbing asbestos and any related exposure from occurring, especially before any remodeling or demolition.

The information provided in this blog was obtained from WDTV's news story and www.asbestos.com/exposure. Visit these sites for more information on asbestos and related health concerns.

If believe that you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos and have questions regarding your rights, contact our Colombo Law team at (888) 860-1414. We will meet with you and will answer any questions you may have and help you in any way that we can.

The Harrison County Humane Society

Colombo Law volunteered at the Harrison County Humane Society on Thursday, July 2. We got to spend time with so many wonderful animals who need a home and a loving family. We also got to meet Sweet Georgia Brown and Scruffy, the pets that Colombo Law is sponsoring this month.

We had such a great time working with the animals and seeing all the great things that the Harrison County Humane Society is doing for the community. If you are looking for a new addition to your family, make sure that you stop by this Humane Society and meet the animals they have there. The Harrison County Humane Society is open from 10:30 A.M. to 3:30 P.M. daily, so stop by sometime this week or this coming weekend to find your perfect pet.

If you are not looking for a pet to take home, but still would like to help out, you are able to volunteer. There are many opportunities for those interested in volunteering. The ways you can help out range from playing with the animals, working on public outreach, or contributing other skills or resources. The Humane Society needs the help of volunteers to make sure that all of the animals find a family and home.

For more information about volunteering or adoption, CLICK HERE for the Harrison County Humane Society’s website.

For more information about the pets Colombo Law is sponsoring, click these links: Sweet Georgia Brown  and Scruffy.