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Charleston WV Personal Injury Law Blog

Pro-business legislation poses threat to workers’ comp benefits, P.2

In our last post, we began discussing legislation being proposed by a national lobbying group which would give employers the opportunity to refuse to participate in the state-supervised workers’ compensation system and to secure their own insurance and set their own rules. The proposal is being marketed as a way to trigger economic growth, but there are significant concerns with how the proposal could impact injured workers.

As we noted last time, one of the obvious dangers of allowing companies to opt out of the state-run workers’ compensation system is the possibility that employers will short-change workers who are injured on the job. The proposal, as well, could potentially leave employers with less motivation to ensure safety in the workplace. 

Pro-business legislation poses threat to workers’ comp benefits, P.1

A concerning development has popped up recently in the world of workers’ compensation here in West Virginia. As readers know, employers are required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. Right now, over 250 workers’ compensation insurance carriers exist in West Virginia. Businesses are required to follow established rules regarding the type and extent of coverage. Workers’ compensation is privatized here in West Virginia, but it is subject to strict government oversight.

Right now, though, over 20 businesses throughout the state are expressing support for legislation proposed by a group called Association for Responsible Alternatives to Workers’ Compensation (ARAWC) which would do away with state-run workers’ compensation. The legislation would permit companies to purchase their own insurance and to set the standards governing when and to what extent injured workers have the right to collect disability benefits. 

Motorcycle safety message being spread during month of May, P.2

In our last post, we mentioned that May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and that the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration is promoting safety around motorcycle use, putting particular focus on drunken driving prevention and road-sharing. These are issues, of course, that require the cooperation of both motorcyclists and other motorists as well.

The latter issue is a particularly important one, since there is too often hostility between motorcyclists and other motorists. The reality is that motorcyclists have the same rights and privileges as other motorists. Motorcyclists, then, should not be treated like “second-class motorists.” 

Motorcycle safety message being spread during month of May, P.1

Readers may or may not be aware that the May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the awareness campaign is aimed particularly at two issues: the need for motorists to share the road with motorcyclists and the need for motorcyclists to avoid riding while intoxicated.

Drunken driving is a significant problem in the United States, and motorcyclists are obviously not immune from the problem. The foolishness of riding a motorcycle while intoxicated lies not only in the serious harm that could occur to a motorcyclist as a result of a crash, but also because it could impact a motorcyclist’s ability to obtain damages when an accident is partially caused by the negligence of another driver. 

Can a driver be held liable for accident caused by medical condition? P.2

In our last post, we began discussing the question of whether a motorist can be held responsible for an accident they cause as a result of a sudden medical emergency. As we noted, West Virginia law does recognize a defense for sudden emergency cases, which can apply in situations involving medical conditions.

The sudden emergency defense holds that a motorist who is involved in an accident may not be held negligent if he or she acted according to his or her best judgment and exercised the level of care that could be expected of a reasonably prudent person in similar circumstances. In order for the defense to apply, several issues have to be resolved. Let’s look briefly at these. 

Can a driver be held liable for an accident caused by medical condition? P.1

Motor vehicle accidents can occur for a variety of reasons. Some of the causes are preventable and some are beyond the control of those involved. Most of us, given undisputed facts, would be reasonably accurate in determining whether an accident was caused by negligence or not. For instance, a motorist who causes an accident while texting a friend is clearly acting negligently. In other situations, it may not be so easy to determine whether negligence was involved.

One example of this would be inclement weather. If an accident occurs during a heavy thunderstorm, it can be a challenge to determine whether negligence is involved. Another example might be when a motorist has a sudden emergency that causes him or her to lose control of the vehicle. In these situations, it is possible that no negligence was involved. 

Health care worker seriously injured in patient attack

We have previously spoken on this blog about the workers’ compensation exclusivity rule and the conditions under which an injured worker may be able to obtain compensation outside the workers’ compensation system. As we’ve pointed out, the critical circumstance is whether or not the employer is considered to have caused by the accident with deliberate intent.

Deliberate intent, again, most commonly refers to situations where an employer knowingly exposed a worker to an unsafe working condition, meaning a condition that involved a serious risk of injury or death and which constituted a violation of state or federal law, or an industry safety standard. Meeting the requirements of a deliberate intent case is not always easy. When exactly an employer crosses the line into knowingly exposing workers to risk can be a tricky issue. 

Mining companies racked up safety violations while arguing against safety rules

Readers may be aware that, earlier this year, West Virginia lawmakers passed a bill into law which abolished several measures intended to help ensure the safety of mine workers across the state. The law, in particular, shut down a panel set up to oversee air quality for underground diesel equipment, increased the maximum distance rail tracks may be placed from work areas, and got rid of an old rule which prevented mine workers from transporting equipment when there are workers in levels of the mine deeper than the equipment.

Those regulations were thrown out based on objections from the mining industry that they were difficult to comply with and didn’t have a significant safety impact. It isn’t surprising, of course, that industry would argue in this way. What is a bit surprising, though, is that the companies who advocated for throwing out these mine safety rules were cited by cited for numerous safety violations by the Mine Safety and Health Administration during the time they lobbied for the changes.

Seeking damages in brain injury cases

Traumatic brain injury, as a recent article in the Huffington Post makes clear, can have a profound impact on the life of one who suffers it. Brain injury can have a wide-range of effects on a person’s life, impacting everything from one’s ability to work to dressing oneself for the day. When a serious traumatic brain injury occurs, these changes often mean significant costs for medical treatment and therapies, as well as loss of income.

For one who suffers a traumatic brain injury in a motor vehicle accident, it is critical to work with an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure that one builds the best possible case, not only with respect to liability, but also as to damages. Without a strong damages case, an accident victim who suffers a traumatic brain injury risks losing out on essential damages to which they are entitled. 

Fight workers’ compensation retaliation with experienced advocacy

Workers’ compensation benefits are critical for injured employees, and employees should not have to live with uncertainty as to whether or not they will receive these benefits if they are legitimately injured on the job. Nor, for that matter, should an injured employee have to worry that he or she will be mistreated at work because they take advantage of their rights under workers’ compensation law.

Unfortunately, workers do sometimes experience adverse treatment at work after receiving workers’ compensation benefits. The form the adverse treatment takes varies, but can include everything from giving an injured worker a hard time for filing a claim to terminating them from their position. In a case recently filed by a Jackson County woman, for example, it was termination. 

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Office Locations in Charleston, Logan and Summersville, West Virginia

Office Locations in Charleston, Logan & Summersville, West Virginia

213 Hale Street | Charleston, WV 25301 | Local: 304-932-4639 | Toll Free: 1-800-889-5851 | E-Mail Us| Map & Directions

116 Stratton Street | Logan, WV 25601 | Local: 304-932-4639 | Toll Free: 1-800-889-5851 | E-Mail Us | Map & Directions

704 Professional Park Drive | Summersville, WV 26651 | Local: 304-461-4733 | Toll Free: 1-800-889-5851 | E-Mail Us | Map & Directions

Fax Number for All Offices: 304-345-0375