What does a Charleston, WV Car Accident Lawyer Cost? Can I Really Afford One?

If you’ve been in a car accident, you’re probably reading this wondering how to get a lawyer in West Virginia to represent you. And more importantly, what does it cost?

What does a Charleston, WV Car Accident Lawyer Cost? Can I Really Afford One?

It’s difficult to put an exact dollar amount on the question since every case is different. One case may net a huge settlement, while another case that looks similar may lose. Everything is in the details of the case.

Lawyers may employ a few different types of fee schedules. Before you agree to be represented by one, ask which one you’ll be agreeing to before you sign anything. A car accident is bad enough—you don’t need any more surprises! Make sure you understand how your lawyer will be paid at the outset of your case.

Hourly

This is where you literally pay your lawyer (and/or the law office staff) for each hour they work on your car accident case. Known as “billable hours,” it’s the actual time spent working on your case. You will generally receive a statement, invoice or some other type of documentation indicating how much work has been done in your case.

If you agree to an hourly fee arrangement, you’ll also need to ask if you will be responsible for paying these invoices every month. Many lawyers do require it, but again, you must specifically ask.

Flat Fee

If you’ve ever asked for an estimate on a home improvement project, or to have work done on your car, you’re familiar with this arrangement. You’ll be charged a specific amount of money to handle your case. Be aware that there may be additional charges such as court costs, filing fees, and costs to recover documentation from hospitals, doctor’s offices, and other places.

Are you going to be paying the fee upfront, and get billed for the extra charges? Will there be any additional fees taken out of your settlement? What happens if you lose your case?

Ask about these things, and what else might be required before you sign. If you agree to a flat fee arrangement, make sure you know what’s involved, and what you’ll be responsible for.

Contingency Fee Arrangement

Many lawyers who handle personal injury cases utilize this arrangement. The lawyer’s fee is a percentage on what you receive as a settlement, contingent upon winning the case. If the case is lost, you generally won’t owe a fee. Lawyers who take these types of arrangements will be choosy about which cases they pick, and they don’t generally take a case they don’t think they can win.

Modified Contingency Arrangement

This arrangement may be partly hourly or flat fee with part of the fees being contingent. Each attorney has his or her own way of doing it, so again, be sure to ask what happens if you settle, if you win, if you have to go to court, and if the case is lost.

Before You Sign

An agreement should have these elements:

·         Retainer—if you’re required to pay a deposit or a monthly fee for their services, this should be spelled out.

·         Hourly rate—rates you’ll be charged for any work done on your case, and by whom. It should also include when the invoice is due, and other associated terms.

·         Contingency fee—if your attorney uses this arrangement, everything will be detailed here.

·         Lawsuit related costs and fees—these are the out-of-pocket court fees and other associated charges that your lawyer will have to pay to work on your case. You may be required to pay these charges as they happen, or the lawyer may be reimbursed when your case settles. If you lose, you may be required to reimburse the lawyer for these charges.

·         Responsibilities—this defines who is responsible for what, (including you), which attorney and/or staff member will be working on your case, and what happens if your case requires an appeal.

Always Ask

If there is something you don’t understand, ask your attorney or their representative to make sure you know what to expect, and what’s expected of you. If an attorney proposes something that’s unclear, or that you’re not comfortable with, you’re free to decline, as long as you haven’t signed anything.

Need An Accident Lawyer? We’re Ready To Help

Do you need a car accident lawyer, but aren’t sure what to expect? Call The Love Law Firm today at (304) 344-5683 and schedule your appointment with one of our personal injury attorneys. We’ll discuss your case with you, explain your options and what to expect in a car accident injury settlement. We can offer you a free consultation, and a contingency fee arrangement to make it easier for you to afford a car accident lawyer. There’s no fee if we don’t win your case.

Bicycle Accident With No Helmet? Here Are Some Legal Considerations

With spring on its way, people are ready to get out and ride their bicycles. In fact, Charleston is one of the top four cycling cities in West Virginia, hosting regular events like Bike To Work Day, where you can get free coffee and pastries. It’s an enjoyable pastime as well as an economical mode of transportation.

Bicycle Accident With No Helmet? Here Are Some Legal Considerations

But before put your ride on the road, make sure you’re familiar with the laws surrounding it. Like a motorcycle, you’re more vulnerable to serious injuries while you’re riding a bicycle.

A bicycle is, in West Virginia law, still considered a “motor vehicle” (even though you’re the “motor.”) Bicycles and motorcycles still must follow traffic laws, and be especially careful. Drivers don’t always see you, and may do anything from fling open a car door in front of you to change lanes and knock you out of yours. An accident between a car and a bicycle can result in devastating injuries that wouldn’t happen between two auto drivers. (West Virginia Chapter 17C, Article 11, governing bicycle riders, is available online.)

Among other safety requirements, lights are required to be on your bicycle for riding at night. Install both a white one for the front and a bright red one for the back, and turn them on when required. Cars, motorcycles, pedestrians and other cyclists will be able to see you.

Wear A Helmet Every Time You Ride

One of the most essential pieces of safety equipment for a bicyclist is a helmet. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics show that 700 cyclists die every year in crashes, totaling 2% of all traffic accidents.

Surprising research shows that cycling is the top sport for traumatic brain injuries—even more than football.  In children under 14, head injuries from cycling are double the number from football. While it might be more enjoyable to ride without a helmet, the risks outweigh the benefits.

New York Times health columnist Jane Brody is a strong proponent, after her own accident that could have left her with a serious brain injury had she not been wearing her helmet.

The NHTSA encourages every rider to wear a helmet regardless of experience since traumatic brain injuries and death are serious risks. Wearing a helmet increases your chances of survival by 88% while riding without one triples your chances of a fatal crash.

Helmet Laws In West Virginia

West Virginia law (§17C-11A-4) requires helmets to be worn by bicyclists aged 15 or under, whether they’re operating the bicycle (or tricycle) or riding as a passenger. It’s also illegal for a parent to permit their child or children to ride a bicycle without a helmet. Doing so can incur a $10 fine and/or two hours of community service in a child injury prevention program. There is no such state law for bicycling adults in West Virginia, but the city of Morgantown does require helmets for all ages since 1993.

The “freedom” and the decision to ride without a helmet comes with risks besides the ones of severe head injuries (and death.) West Virginia’s comparative fault clause that applies to car accidents can also apply to bicycling accidents. Just like a car accident, an insurance company may use the absence of a bicycle helmet to deny your claim, or at least get it reduced by a percentage.

Helmets are known to reduce brain injuries, and failing to wear a helmet could significantly impact your claim, thus reducing a settlement. You may still be able to make an injury claim, and it wouldn’t affect other bodily injuries. But without a helmet, you’ll have to work hard to prove that your injury could have happened even with a helmet.

You can deal with “helmet hair.” A traumatic brain injury lasts a lot longer. And if you’re unable to collect any damages because of comparative negligence, how will you be able to heal with a reduced settlement?

We Handle Bicycle Accidents Too

Even while wearing a helmet, you can be injured in a crash, but the helmet can save your life. It may not be your fault, and we can help you recover damages. Let us help you with your accident case so you can heal your injuries and get on with your life. Call The Love Law Firm at (304) 344-5683 to schedule your free consultation. We’ll talk with you about your case and discuss your options. We work on a contingency fee basis, so there’s no up-front expense.

 

Should I Settle With The Insurance Company After My Car Accident?

One of the first phone calls you may receive after a car crash is from the other driver’s insurance company. They want to settle your case—fast. You may even receive that call the day of the accident.

Should you accept the offer? It’s great that they’re on top of it, but it’s probably not in your best interest.

Should I Settle With The Insurance Company After My Car Accident?

If your case is minor, and there were no injuries or serious damage to your car, it might be OK—consider carefully before you do. But if you and/or your loved ones were seriously injured, your car or other property was badly damaged, don’t sign away your rights to compensation you deserve.

Once you accept their settlement offer, your case is closed—and you can’t go back later to ask for more once you sign for the check. It may be time to contact a personal injury attorney to help you with your case.

Types Of Damages

Whether you’re a driver, a passenger or a pedestrian injured in an accident, you can pursue compensation for damages. What you can recover and the amount will depend on the types of damages involved, during and after the incident. These damages include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Car repairs
  • Disability or disfigurement
  • Pain and suffering

If you settle with the insurance company that quickly, you may walk away from damages that you’re entitled to.

What’s The Hurry?

Insurance companies want to get you and your case settled and off their books as soon as they can, for as little money as they can. They’re not concerned with your injuries and helping you get back on your feet.

But injuries aren’t always obvious on the day of the accident. That’s why it’s important to seek medical attention immediately after the accident, and again as needed. If you delay treatment, it could damage your chances of recovering anything.

West Virginia allows you a two-year time frame to file a claim, and if necessary, a lawsuit, to get the compensation you need for your injuries and damage to your property. If your injuries are delayed, you’ll have two years from the date of discovery to file your complaint.

This is where a personal injury attorney can help you.

What A Car Accident Settlement Should Cover

In addition to covering your car repair/replacement expenses, your medical expenses, lost wages and other expenses. However, if you’re severely injured, and possibly disabled, a quick settlement probably won’t take that into account. An insurance adjuster isn’t going to take these things into consideration, so be very cautious when talking with them, and don’t agree to anything you feel is inadequate, or don’t understand.

Negotiating A Settlement

Some websites offer tips for negotiating with insurance companies for settling claims. If at any point you’re unsure or need help, don’t hesitate to call The Love Law Firm.

Were You Assigned Fault?

West Virginia’s car accident laws allow fault to be assigned. That is, you could be assigned a percentage of fault for causing the accident. Should you be partially responsible, it could impact your settlement amount. But you should know if you are at fault, and by how much. For instance, if the other driver was 100% at fault for the accident, you’ll recover an awarded amount at 100%. But if you’re 20% at fault because a witness saw you look at your phone while the vehicle was in motion, your settlement amount will be reduced by 20%.

Ready To Settle? Call Us First!

Don’t accept a quick settlement without talking to us first. You could lose out with no way to recover. Call The Love Law Firm today at (304) 344-5683 and schedule your appointment with one of our attorneys. We’ll discuss your case with you, explain your options and what to expect in a car accident injury settlement. We offer contingency fee arrangements, and there’s no fee if we don’t win your case.

Who Is Liable When A Pedestrian Causes An Accident?

If you’ve been in a car accident, you’ve probably been through the process where the fault is determined and liability is established. And more importantly, who pays for everything. There may have even been a pedestrian involved.

But what if the pedestrian was the cause of the accident?

Who Is Liable When A Pedestrian Causes An Accident?

It Happens Frequently

The Centers For Disease Control found in 2008 that a pedestrian is injured every eight minutes, and one dies every two hours in the US from traffic accidents, about 11% of all traffic fatalities (according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.)  Since pedestrians don’t have the usual protection a car or truck would have, injuries from even an otherwise minor accident can be devastating.

Pedestrians normally always have the right of way, so many people believe that they can’t be at fault—but that’s not completely true. Drivers should yield to pedestrians at crosswalks and other intersections. Both drivers and pedestrians have a duty to “exercise reasonable care” on the road, and failure to exercise care as a pedestrian is considered negligent.

If you’ve ever seen someone walking down the street staring at their phone, you’ll understand how quickly a pedestrian accident can happen.

Negligence

It’s not common, but a pedestrian can be found “at fault” for an accident, although successful legal action may not be possible. Distractions (like a smartphone), carelessness, impairment (alcohol, drugs) or otherwise not paying attention to surroundings and traffic can play a part in pedestrian negligence.

Under WV State Code 17C-10-01, pedestrians are also subjected to state law and rules of the road, including using crosswalks and obeying traffic signals. Violations are subjected to fines of at least $100.

In order to prove negligence against a pedestrian, you’ll need evidence, such as witness statements, surveillance video, a police report and other pieces of evidence that prove the pedestrian’s negligence.

Using the NTHSA data from 2008, it’s important to note that time is an important factor in pedestrian accidents.

  • 38% of car/pedestrian fatalities involving drivers aged 16 or younger occurred between 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm
  • 48% of all pedestrian fatality accidents happened on Friday, Saturday and Sunday
  • 48% of the cases involved alcohol and/or inebriation as a factor with either the driver or the pedestrian
  • 36% of involved pedestrians involved in these accidents had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the legal limit
  • 13% of the involved drivers had a BAC over the legal limit.

Comparative Fault

It is possible, but somewhat unlikely, that you could pursue a claim against a pedestrian. It’s more likely that the driver will be sued in a personal injury claim by the pedestrian.

Both drivers and pedestrians can be found negligent and liable for an accident, either singly or together. West Virginia’s comparative fault rule means that if a pedestrian is found to be at fault for the accident, any settlement can be reduced by the percentage. If a pedestrian is found to be 25% responsible for an accident, he or she will see any settlement reduced by 25%. This is also true for a driver.

Intoxicated or otherwise impaired pedestrians who fail to follow the rule of law may be responsible for a higher fault percentage, and may not be eligible to recover damage and/or compensation.

Defend Yourself

We stand ready to protect your interests and help you get back on your feet after an accident. We’ll examine all the facts in the case, the police report, and advise you on how to proceed.

If you’ve been involved in a pedestrian accident, contact us at The Love Law Firm, or call us at (304) 344 5683. Your consultation is free, and we only collect if we win your case.

Why You Need A Commercial Truck Accident Lawyer For A Charleston Wreck

For many people, truck driving is a way of life and a livelihood. You may not like being too close to 80,000 pounds, so you try to pass them, or just stay out of their path. A commercial truck accident can be much more lethal than a car accident, and you need to be sure you’re covered as the driver.

You see trucks on the roads, transporting the goods we all take for granted. The Oil & Gas industry has improved, increasing the number of trucks on West Virginia roads.

Why You Need A Commercial Truck Accident Lawyer For A Charleston Wreck

The Trucking Industry

Drivers and their companies are, by law, held to a higher safety standard than passenger drivers. Every journey requires recordkeeping, including maintenance and repair records.

Operators of commercial trucks have extensive training before getting a commercial driver’s license (CDL) as well as a system of regulations to follow behind the wheel. The shortage of qualified drivers, coupled with new electronic logging device mandate (ELD) means drivers may be more stressed than before. Some companies have tired drivers to drive longer, take heavier loads, or drive faster to get a shipment on time, contributing to a devastating accident.

It’s bad enough to be in a wreck with another car. But it’s a lot more complicated with a truck. Your injuries are likely to be more severe, but their legal teams and insurance companies will try to push you to agree to a quick—and inadequate—settlement. Don’t settle. Contact a lawyer who can help you navigate a commercial truck accident case.

Braking

We don’t think about our brakes unless they’re making noise or not stopping correctly. But for large trucks, braking is a process. Braking is immediate when you touch your car’s brake pedal. But for a semi, the air brakes take a full 1.5 seconds to engage, taking two to three times longer to stop—and more if the load is heavy.

Exercise Caution Driving Near Big Trucks

It’s sensible to be extra careful around a semi, even when everything works properly. Other ways to stay safe around trucks include:

  • Leaving more than adequate distance between you and a truck behind you after you pass
  • Allow big trucks the room to make right-hand turns adequately, since they have to turn from the left or middle lane to avoid jackknifing
  • Passing only on the left, never on the right, where they have a “blind spot” and the driver can’t see you
  • Don’t pull in front of a truck, where they can’t slow or stop quickly.

Inadequate Maintenance And Other Factors

Most companies are fastidious about maintenance, compliance, and keeping their employees as well as other motorists safe. But failures do happen, and some of the reasons accidents happen include:

  • Driver fatigue
  • Driver distraction (texting, etc.)
  • Inadequate equipment maintenance
  • Driver not following pre-trip checks and other company policies
  • Impaired driver (alcohol/drug use)
  • Company negligence

Be Careful Who You Talk To

Trucking companies have their own insurance companies and law firms to assertively defend them against claims and lawsuits.

They may call you after your accident, asking for a statement, which will likely be recorded. Don’t give them one—refer all questions to your truck accident lawyer. These teams work hard to discredit you and do anything they can to avoid responsibility.  You could say something benign that will be used against you, and possibly deny you any kind of settlement.

They may also attempt to convince you to accept a quick settlement for your medical bills. Again, refer these calls to a qualified truck accident lawyer. Accepting their first settlement may leave a lot of money on the table that you’re entitled to for your injuries.

Don’t Let Time Slip By

While you’re recovering from injuries, you may be unaware of the time limit you have to file a claim. You’ll have just two years to file a lawsuit against the driver, the company, and their insurance companies to help you recover. Medical bills, lost wages, and other incurred costs are part of the compensation you need to move forward.

Insurance claims should be filed right away, as soon as you are able. If you (or your attorney) can’t reach a settlement, you’ll have time to file a lawsuit if necessary.

Don’t Give Up Your Rights—Fight!

If you’ve been hurt by a negligent truck driver, or due to the negligence of a trucking company, we’re here to help. A truck accident case calls for aggressive representation to protect your rights and help you get the compensation you need.

We’re experienced in handling truck accidents of all kinds, and we understand how complicated it can be. Call us today at (304) 344 5683 for a confidential and FREE consultation. You can reach also reach us by filling out our online form.

Your consultation is free, and we only collect after we win your case and get you the settlement you need. Don’t wait!

Who’s Liable If I Slip And Fall In A Restaurant?

An evening out should be enjoyable, no matter where you dine. But a slip & fall incident in a restaurant may do more than spoil a nice evening. An injury from an unseen hazard can ruin more than just dinner.

Who’s Liable If I Slip And Fall In A Restaurant?

It Can Happen Anywhere

Slipping and falling in a place like a restaurant is called “premises liability.”

Slips and falls may occur in any number of places. But restaurants are prone to slippery conditions and trip hazards due to the nature of their business. Most restaurants are conscientious of running a clean, safe establishment for employees and customers. But accidents do happen, and they may not be addressed as quickly as they should during a very busy time.

A restaurant owner (or any property owner or manager) has a legal obligation to keep their premises in a safe condition for anyone who visits or works there. They’re required to take care of any dangerous conditions as soon as possible, such as slick floors or icy sidewalks. Should a property owner/manager negligently ignore an unsafe condition, causing a preventable injury, the owner and/or the company can be held liable by the injured party for financial damages.

Partial Fault

If you are found partly at fault for your injuries, you’ll be assigned a percentage of fault, and your settlement can be reduced by that amount.

For instance, if a wet floor caused the unsafe condition that caused your slip, but you missed the warning signs because you were inebriated, you could be assigned a 10% fault for your injuries. A $10,000 settlement will be reduced by 10%, giving you a $9,000 settlement.

However, under West Virginia’s modified comparative fault rule, if you’re found to be more than 50% at fault (such as your inebriation being the reason for your slip and fall), you won’t be allowed to receive any settlement.

Open And Obvious

If you are injured by a hazard that is apparent to anyone who encounters it, but ignore the hazard and proceed anyway, you will not be able to sue under West Virginia’s Open And Obvious Doctrine. A property owner is still liable for a hazard that was unknown or not apparent, but not for something that everyone could clearly see. This prevents owners from being held liable from a patron who disregards his or her own safety and intentionally steps into harm’s way. Under this doctrine, your settlement could be reduced by the modified comparative fault rule, or eliminated altogether.

Documenting And Proving Liability

If you’ve been injured, of course, you should seek medical attention for your injuries. Tell the attending physician what happened, because a slip & fall involves specific types of injuries.

Your smartphone is your friend here–if you are able, take ample photographs of the place where you were injured (or have someone take them for you.) You’ll want to take several, particularly if there are any hazards that aren’t immediately obvious, or any dangerous conditions that were neglected. In addition to the accident scene, take pictures of your injuries as well.

Notify the owner, manager, or tenant immediately. The restaurant likely has a process for reporting accidents and injuries. If you’re asked to fill out a form or a report, get a copy of it for your records.

Keep records of everything involved with your case. This includes medical bills, doctor’s reports, any accident reports, prescriptions, insurance claims and anything else related your slip & fall accident. A file folder or accordion file stores everything in one place and will help keep you from misplacing anything. The file will help when you meet with your attorney.

Statute of Limitations

You have a two-year time frame from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit, known as the “statute of limitations.” If you don’t file within the legally allowed two-year period, you’ll lose your rights to file.

If you have insurance, you should file your claim immediately, as soon as you are able. Not all cases will require a lawsuit. If you file after the two-year period, when you can no longer file a lawsuit, you’ll have less leverage with your insurance company. They’ll be more difficult in settlement negotiations, because they know you won’t be able to sue.

Don’t Wait–Call Us Today

The Love Law Firm is West Virginia’s personal injury law firm with many years of experience handling slips and falls. Call us today at (304) 344 5683 and schedule your free consultation. There’s no fee until we win your case, and our contingency fee arrangement means you won’t pay unless we win your case.

Mining Accidents: A 2017 Review

Thirty percent of electricity generated in the US is created by mining and burning coal. It’s still one of the safest and least expensive power generating fuels available.

Mining Accidents: A 2017 Review

Coal mining is one of the top industries in West Virginia, but it’s still one of the most dangerous. Even with improvements in safety equipment and procedures, accidents still happen that leave employees with serious, debilitating injuries. Some miners never make it out, leaving behind a grieving family. Here, we’ll talk about the current state of the industry and what’s being done to make it safer.

The State Of West Virginia

In the first three quarters of 2017, there were 3,553 incidents in coal mines in West Virginia. This includes 7 fatalities attributed to mining accidents.

The West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety & Training is responsible for inspections, safety training and other certificate examinations. This agency is also responsible for providing search and rescue teams, maintaining industry statistics, developing and publishing training materials and other relevant functions.

During the 2016 legislative session, the West Virginia Code was updated with additional laws regulating miner’s health, safety and training.

During the 2017 legislative session the Senate introduced Bill 582, suggesting federal standards to replace state safety standards for West Virginia miners, and reducing standards at the state level. The State of West Virginia also has plans to cut the 2018 budget for the Board of Coal Mine Health & Safety by 3%. No one yet knows what this will mean for miners in West Virginia. There is concern that lack of accountability for mining companies could increase the risks incurred by miners working for companies that no longer have to fear retribution from unsafe conditions.

The Federal Government

Data from the US Department of Labor’s Mine Safety & Health Administration shows that West Virginia leads the US in coal mining fatalities.

To help reverse these trends, the MSHA has training courses available to the mining industry at its National Mine Health and Safety Academy in Beaver, West Virginia. The Academy’s objective is to increase mining safety and reduce accidents in the industry. From the course catalog, page 10:

The purpose of the Academy is to design, develop, and conduct instructional  programs  that  will  assist  in  government,  industry,  and labor efforts to reduce injuries, illnesses, and fatalities in the mineral industries.

Started in 1978 and boasting an online library (including a digital library), a catalog of training products, a course catalog and a mine simulation laboratory, the Academy offers a wide curriculum for all levels of the mining industry.  The Academy’s instructors can also travel to conduct training onsite for companies who are interested.

More Mining Safety Training

In addition to the Academy, MSHA offers state safety grants, miners’ training, health and safety training, mine rescue training, (a requirement at every facility) and other industry-specific instruction that can be integrated into mandatory company training. Many of these courses are offered online, and a selection is available as low-cost DVDs.

If You’re An Injured Miner

While safety on the job is a priority in mining, accidents can still happen. Mining company employee injuries fall under Worker’s Compensation. That’s the first thing you should file for after a mining injury. But Worker’s Compensation may not be enough, especially if you’ve suffered severe, debilitating injuries that have brought considerable medical expenses or prevent you from working. If a mining accident has claimed the loss of a loved one, you can also recover compensation.

Mining Accident Representation

Chad Love has 20 years’ experience working with personal injury victims, including miners and victims of mining accidents. Call us today at 304-344-5686 or use our online contact form to get in touch. We’ll be happy to discuss your case, how we can help, and schedule a free consultation.

Why Hire A Nursing Home Lawyer?

Nursing home: two words that mean a number of things. Nobody really wants to go into one, but for someone who needs a high level of medical attention, a nursing home may be their only option. If you’re entrusted with someone’s care, it’s a decision you don’t take lightly. Learn when it’s a good time to get a nursing home lawyer involved below.

Why Hire A Nursing Home Lawyer?

A nursing home is a place where you trust your loved ones to will be safe and well cared for. But there may come a day where “taking care of them” might mean hiring a lawyer, too.

Inadequate Care

Nursing homes have a duty to make arrangements for each patient based on their medical history, including preventing falls and other accidents. Many don’t have the staff to care for the number of patients they have. Many of these employees may have insufficient training for helping and handling elderly or infirm patients, leading to falls that can cause serious, debilitating injury.

A nursing home can be held liable if a patient was injured due to:

  • Failing to prevent injury hazards and keep the premises relatively safe
  • Negligence in hiring/supervising an employee who ultimately caused harm to a patient
  • Negligence in supervising patients who have balance issues and are at risk for falls
  • Failing to maintain sufficient health & safety protocols for cleanliness and sanitation in the facility
  • Substandard medical care that causes harm to a resident or is inadequate for the patient’s needs

Patient Injuries And Abuse

While there are many well-run facilities, some nursing homes have experienced problems with:

  • Physical abuse (including sexual abuse)
  • Patient injury/infections
  • Mental/Emotional abuse
  • Financial exploitation
  • Medical malpractice
  • Dehydration/Malnutrition
  • Neglect
  • Negligence
  • Excessive medication

And other mistreatments of residents by both staff and family members.

These types of allegations should not be taken lightly. A recent report by the AARP states that despite federal law requiring nursing homes to report any incidents of mistreatment to local police, Medicare hasn’t enforced this requirement. West Virginia requires abuse reports to be filed and has mandatory reporting requirements for suspected abuse by:

  • Law enforcement officers
  • Medical/dental professionals
  • Religious or spiritual healers/leaders (including Christian Science practitioners)
  • Social or mental health workers
  • Nursing home or residential facility employees

Nursing home residents may be afraid to say anything or discuss any abuse for fear of retaliation or additional abuse. Even though West Virginia has a considerable number of laws surrounding nursing home abuse, many incidents still go unreported to police.

If you suspect abuse or neglect, contact the West Virginia Adult Protective Services 24/7 hotline immediately at 1-800-352-6513. (For financial exploitation, there is also 1-866-241-5062.) Your privacy is protected under West Virginia’s WV Code §49-6A-6, and you’re protected from criminal liability. Nursing homes may not discharge a patient or discriminate against them for making a report. (A PDF of APS’s current policy for nursing home issues is available here.)

Filing For Medicare?

If you or your loved one needs to file for Medicare to continue in a facility long-term, the nursing home may offer you the name or names of attorneys they “work with” in order to expedite the application. Be aware that one or more of these “helpful attorneys” may already represent the nursing home, creating a conflict of interest. Find an independent, objective attorney who can help you through the process of Medicare, and any other issues you may have with a nursing home.

Why Hire An Attorney?

Nursing homes are frequently run by large corporations, and won’t bother with small, individual complaints. They may have complicated procedures for handling abuse and neglect complaints, and it could take years to see any remedies. Like a lawsuit against any large company, you’ll need help. From filing the correct forms to finding the right governing entity, a nursing home lawyer can help you cut through the bureaucracy that keeps you at arm’s length and prevents you from helping your loved one.

If he or she is in a nursing home, they may need all the help you can give them. Hire an attorney who has specific experience dealing with nursing home problems.

Defending The Defenseless

Nursing home residents may not be able to speak for themselves, and depend on you. If you’ve already complained to a nursing home administrator, or the state of West Virginia, and still can’t get any answers, it’s time to up your game. Contact The Love Law Firm today at (304) 344-5683 to schedule your free consultation. (You can also email us or use our convenient contact form.)  You deserve some answers, and we stand ready to help you get them.

Legitimate & Illegitimate Reasons For Termination Of Employment

West Virginia is an “employment-at-will” state, meaning you or your employer can terminate your employment at any time, without notice or reason. The reverse is true—you can also terminate your employment at will yourself. (“Two weeks notice” is simply a common business practice.) However, there are a number of exceptions to this termination rule.

Legitimate & Illegitimate Reasons For Termination Of Employment

At-Will Employment

Unless you have a contract that prohibits it, your employer can terminate your employment immediately, without cause or warning. While an employer may have good cause to terminate, in West Virginia, there are many illegitimate (or wrongful) reasons for terminating or firing someone. Federal law prohibits an employer from terminating your employment on the basis of:

Additionally, West Virginia prohibits termination on the basis of:

  • Out of work due to an injury
  • Filing for Worker’s Compensation
  • Jury duty
  • Military service
  • Voting leave (three hours while polls are open if needed)
  • Time off under the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act)
  • Reporting public safety concerns
  • Enforcing West Virginia public policy
  • For reporting wrongdoing as a healthcare worker to an entity or reporting authority.
  • HIV/AIDS status
  • Off-duty tobacco use away from the workplace
  • Disability: physical or mental, and blindness

 

The West Virginia Human Rights Commission enforces these state laws prohibiting discrimination and wrongful discharge on these grounds. You also cannot be fired, threatened or coerced into exercising your rights for military service, jury duty, voting or using the FMLA.

All of these reasons are violations of public policy, and a company can be pursued for wrongful termination.

Companies must comply with these laws if they employ more than 12 employees. For age discrimination, they must comply if there are 20 or more employees, and for citizenship status, more than 4.

It is also against the law for a company to retaliate against an employee (including firing) for asserting individual rights, such as filing an age discrimination complaint. Companies are also prohibited from terminating your employment for participating in an investigation, including going to court, for a discrimination complaint, whether or not you originally filed it.

Employment Contracts

If you have a contract with your employer, your employment is created and administered by it. You cannot be terminated except for the reasons stipulated in the contract.

Some contracts are “implied,” either through past practices or an implication that you are not “at-will.” A common example is the employee handbook (or an oral promise that you believed was legitimate) that you would not be fired without a good reason. Unless the handbook specifically states that you are an “at-will employee,” an employment contract is implied and formed, and you cannot be fired without a legitimate reason. If the company does it anyway, it has breached its “contract” with you.

Union agreements, available in some industries, may also protect employees from termination without cause. If you are employed under a collective bargaining agreement, read it closely to find out what is and isn’t covered in the contract.

Protection From Wrongful or Illegitimate Terminations

On the federal level, the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) regulates workplace discrimination. Their website lists local offices and contacts, as well as a wealth of information on many employment-related subjects. You must file your complaint within six months (180 days) of the last incident of discrimination.

On the state level, the West Virginia Human Rights Commission covers statewide employment discrimination. You can contact them online or by phone at 304-558-2616 or 888-676-5546. You must file a complaint within one year (365 days) of the last incident of discrimination.

Proving Your Case

An employer who illegally terminates you will work to cover their true reasons for the firing. You may have a case, but of course, it’s up to you (and your attorney) to prove that you were illegally and/or wrongfully terminated. Employers may state a legal and legitimate reason for termination to cover for an illegal reason, such as reaching a certain age or reporting wrongdoing (“whistle-blowing,” reporting sexual harassment or other wrongful practices.) Your attorney can help you bring your case against a company for an illegal firing.

Call For Your Free Consultation

If you believe your employment was wrongfully terminated, contact the Love Law Firm today at (304) 344 5683 or use our online contact form. We’ll discuss your case with you and let you know how we can help. We’ll work to get you the compensation you deserve—lost wages, unemployment benefits, and compensation for emotional distress.

Prepare for Ice and Snow With These Slip & Fall Basics for Charleston, WV

As fall turns to winter, ice, snow and other inclement conditions will dominate the weather, as well as increased chance of a slip and fall injury. With over 800,000 individuals hospitalized yearly for slips and falls, winter conditions increase the likelihood of getting hurt.

Prepare for Ice and Snow With These Slip & Fall Basics for Charleston, WV

Premises Liability

Businesses, shopping centers, apartment complexes and other places you frequent may neglect their winter maintenance or just not have a plan for dealing with ice and snow. Salting the ice and moving snow out of access areas make it safer for people to walk and visit. Managers and facilities maintenance personnel have a requirement to make a reasonable effort to reduce the dangers to visitors and the public or warn of unsafe winter conditions. But if they fail to do so, and neglect causes a slip and fall accident, the owner will be held liable for injuries and any associated costs.

Public Sidewalks

West Virginia law requires that sidewalks and the areas underneath them are to be properly maintained. Owners are required to clear all snow and ice from a sidewalk they own that the public may use. Uneven surfaces that might be hidden under ice and snow can be particularly hazardous, so preventative maintenance is important, but may be neglected during winter.

Should you slip and fall on an icy sidewalk, you may be able to recover damages and receive compensation for your injuries. Determining who owns the sidewalk is key to finding the correct entity to file your claim.

The Elderly

Many elderly individuals don’t have the footing they used to. They aren’t as steady on their feet, and are particularly vulnerable to injuries from dangerous slips and falls on ice and snow. Once an elderly individual takes a tumble, they may be afraid of subsequent falling. Many avoid walking and moving too much for fear of another fall, and become weaker, increasing their chances of falling again.

What To Do If You Have A Winter Slip & Fall Injury

Should you become injured, here are a few things you need to do:

1.    See a doctor (or visit the ER if necessary) to attend to your injuries

2.    Document the details of your case—location, weather conditions, time of day, and anything else relevant while you can easily remember it.

3.    Take pictures of the area where the injury occurred

4.    If there are witnesses, get statements and contact information if possible

5.    Document your medical information and billing, as well as lost wages and any other damages suffered

6.    Contact a personal injury attorney, and have all your information available when you visit

NOTE: do NOT give a recorded statement to any insurance company about your case. Your attorney will speak to the insurance companies for you and will update you on how your case is proceeding.

Statute of Limitations

West Virginia allows two years for a plaintiff to file a slip and fall lawsuit. If you don’t file within two years of the accident, you will lose the ability to file. This is separate from an insurance claim, which should be filed separately and as soon as possible. If you don’t file your suit in the two-year window, you might not be able to collect on an insurance claim, either.

Modified Comparative Fault

If you are found to be partially responsible for your accident, you will be assigned a percentage of fault. If you are partly at fault, this will work against you in a claim/settlement. If your percentage is greater than 50%, you will not be able to receive damages from the other party.

Winter Ice & Snow Fall Prevention

West Virginia winters can be dangerous. While we can’t protect ourselves and our families from everything everywhere, we can take precautions to reduce the chances of injury from slip and fall accidents in ice and snow. The University of Idaho offers these recommendations:

1.    Take small steps, focus on your walking. Walk slowly, carefully and stay aware of the surface conditions.

2.    Chose your path carefully, and avoid icy conditions wherever possible.

3.    Avoid sudden movements on hard surfaces. Melting snow can create puddles, much like rain, and turn very slippery very quickly. Most places take precautions to remove puddles, but they can be anywhere.

4.    Watch your feet on icy and uneven surfaces, especially if you are carrying articles.

5.    Remove snow from your footwear when entering buildings to avoid slipping or creating more puddles.

6.    If you find sand containers available, consider spreading some to prevent injuries both to yourself and others. Report icy surfaces to building managers or other facilities personnel.

7.    Select appropriate footwear—rubber soles with deep traction grips are best.

8.    Leave earlier. It takes time to walk safely on frozen surfaces, so take that into consideration when heading out.

9.    Be very careful exiting your vehicle, holding onto the car door for safety.

10. Avoid shortcuts—use cleared spaces and walkways, and exercise care on steps. Don’t step on a curb, step up over it onto a flat surface.

Call For A Free Consultation

Slipping and falling on icy surfaces can be a painful and expensive experience, especially if you require hospitalization. But if you or a loved one has had a slip and fall injury on ice or snow due to negligence, we’re here to help you recover damages so you can heal and get on with your life. Call us today at (304) 344 5683 and we’ll help you with your case. We’re one of Charleston’s premier personal injury law firms and can work on a contingency fee basis to work on and settle your case.