West Virginia Courts and Laws

Out of State Workers’ Injuries – the ABCs

Since the gas boom began here in West Virginia, we’ve seen more welding trucks out of Alabama and Texas and Mississippi and Georgia than we do from West Virginia. And of course, those folks have no idea what their legal rights are if they get hurt while working here. When someone is burned or injured on a gas or oil rig, as soon as you know the reason, you can pretty quickly answer the question, “Can I sue?” First, we want to know that worker’s relationship to the company that caused the explosion or caused the fire. Who was their boss? Who was their foreman? Was there an independent contractor or another company doing something that caused the explosion? We can walk the worker and/or their family through the technicalities of the case and pretty quickly explain to them their rights and remedies under the laws of West Virginia. It’s important that they contact an experienced lawyer in the area of explosions and burn injuries – especially if they are from out of state. Feel free to call us here. There is no charge and we are happy to talk about the case and look into it and tell them …

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What Should I Look for in a West Virginia Coal Mine Accident Lawyer?

If you have suffered an injury in either an underground coal mine or a surface coal mine, it is important that you and your family seek a lawyer who is experienced in these types of cases. The lawyer should have a thorough understanding of both federal and state regulations and the differences in how they affect deep mining, underground mining and surface mining. They should also know the rules such as those that affect the machines used in a surface mine and how well the people are trained who are responsible for your injury. At Segal Law Firm, we ask these questions every day. A coal mining company might tell the government they have a mining plan and a roof bolting plan, but in reality they’re not following that plan. They might also state they maintain their equipment, but when a lawyer looks in the right places, it becomes apparent that equipment was not being maintained pursuant to the manufacturer’s specifications, which resulted in someone getting injured. We have had cases where injuries resulted from a co-worker who shouldn’t have been in the mine in the first place because they didn’t have the right training. All these reasons are why …

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Should you Hire a Lawyer in West Virginia?

If you are injured in West Virginia, you are not required to hire a lawyer within the state. However, if you hire a lawyer from out of state, they must either be admitted to the West Virginia State Bar and have an office in the state, or they will need to hire a lawyer within the state to work with them on your case. It would make better sense to hire an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer here in West Virginia, with a good track record. It will be less expensive for you in the long run and a West Virginia lawyer will know the area and how to work through our court systems more effectively than someone who doesn’t regularly practice here. Because of our years of service to the community here in West Virginia, as well as our knowledge of the legal system, the Segal Law Firm is asked to assist out of state lawyers quite often, particularly in the case of complex litigation. We will sometimes agree to assist in those cases, but we feel your best avenue is through a lawyer who is local to the state, thus assuring that the other side will recognize your lawyer …

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What is a Mass Tort Case and how are they Handled in West Virginia?

People often confuse mass tort cases with class action lawsuits, but the difference lies in the fact that mass tort cases involve an event where a lot of people are injured or killed at one time. West Virginians may be familiar with the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster which killed 29 miners in a single event. Going further back in time, the Willow Island Tower collapse is another example of a single event disaster. The Mass Litigation Panel Here in West Virginia, we have a Mass Litigation Panel which is a group of judges who deal with cases involving multiple people injured or killed in an event. These events could be explosions, fires, mine explosions, industrial accidents where a roof falls in or an oven explodes, electrical disasters or chemical leaks. All of these are examples of mass torts and they are handled by the Mass Litigation Panel which facilitates getting multiple families through the court system as efficiently and inexpensively as possible. Occasionally a case might stay with the judge it was filed in front of, but many times litigators themselves or the Supreme Court will request the Mass Litigation Panel step in to help families get quick resolution …

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How do Class Action Lawsuits Work in West Virginia?

Class action lawsuits are most often used in consumer cases where a large number of people have been cheated. This could involve an illegal interest rate where their bank or credit card company was applying inappropriate fees, or it could be something much more simple where a company produces juice that they claim is 100% natural. In reality, the consumer is being cheated out of about 50 cents a bottle. These small amounts aren’t worth going to court over on an individual basis, but when you look at the big picture and you’re talking about thousands of people who are being cheated, this is where a class action lawsuit is best utilized. Basically, a large group of people sharing a common loss all join together in a lawsuit. There are class action lawsuits in both state and federal courts in West Virginia. Sometimes federal cases can involve securities, stocks and bonds. It may only involve pennies on the dollar, but there again, if many people are involved, the amount people are being cheated on can result in huge losses, even in the tens of millions of dollars, and a class action lawsuit is appropriate in these cases as well. Class …

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Do I have a case? How am I going to pay you to handle my case?

The two most common questions we get asked when people come to the law firm and meet me for the first time, is first, Do I have a case? And second, how am I going to pay you to handle my case? The first question is a rather complex question because it depends on how were you hurt. Who is responsible? Who’s doing the investigation? Is it AMSHA? OSHA? The police? Who’s looking into this and whom are we going to have to talk to see if you have a case? Here at the Segal Law Firm we handle cases on what’s called a “contingency fee basis.” It’s important that you get your contingency fee agreement in writing. Generally speaking, somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of whatever is recovered will pay the attorney’s fees. The range depends upon the complexity of your case, as well as the risk involved in the case and the type of experts that are going to be involved. Other questions to ask when evaluating a case include: Do they need a firm like the Segal Law Firm? Do they understand the contingency fee contract? We don’t get paid unless we make money for our …

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How are personal injury claims handled in the state of West Virginia?

Most top-of-the-line law firms begin with a thorough interview and meeting with the client. The client needs to understand what the lawyer can do for them, how they’re going to do it, how long its going to take and, last but not least, how much is it going to cost. We work on a contingency fee basis. That means, until we get our client’s money, they don’t owe us any money and if we are not successful in their case, then they don’t owe us any attorney fees. It’s that simple. Once the lawyer is in place you start the investigation. In a simple accident, that may only take a few days. In a complex trucking case or a complex coal-mining explosion or death case, it could be a few weeks or several weeks. Sometimes, if you’re waiting on the NTSB – the National Transportation Safety Board – the wait can be as much as six to nine months. The next step is the filing of a complaint. Sometimes an insurance company or major corporation will approach the Segal Law firm quickly and ask us to provide them with information. This is so they can make an early settlement to …

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Is a Small Law Firm or a Large Law Firm Better for Injury Victims?

When you are injured in an accident, you might wonder if a large law firm or a small law firm is best for you. I’m sure both small and large law firms feel they are best for your needs, but for me personally, I have made a deliberate effort to keep my law firm small over the years. I did this for one important reason – because I believe someone who has been catastrophically injured or lost their life deserves personal attention. Having a small law firm makes it possible for me to familiarize myself with every single case in my office. I know who is working on it with me and what is happening at any given moment with that case. It is much easier to keep the client informed about their case and in fact, every single letter, no matter how small, is sent to our clients. An added benefit with a small firm is that it ensures the secretaries know our clients when they call. The lawyers know all of our clients and in the Segal Law Firm, each case is assigned to two lawyers, leaving me free to supervise each case. Some of the more complex …

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Can Any Lawyer Handle My Injury Case?

Ah, the age old question: are all lawyers created equal? Okay, maybe that’s not exactly how it goes, but differentiating between types of lawyers and finding the one right for you is incredibly important when you’ve been hurt in an accident. The very first place you’ll want to start is with the lawyer’s experience. We all get the same degree, but if you’ve suffered a debilitating injury due to a chemical fire or coal mining accident, you don’t want to go to the guy who has been writing deeds and wills for the last twenty years. You need a lawyer with a past performance that includes cases likes yours. Good injury lawyers spend years studying, learning and re-learning how to best represent people who have been involved in serious, life threatening and fatal accidents. Just because someone has a law degree, it doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is qualified to handle your case. If someone called me up today and said, “Hey, Scott, can you write out my will for me?” My answer would be a solid “no way!” I’m not experienced in that area. But if that person calls me about a powerhouse or coal mining injury, then …

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Can I Call The Segal Law Firm for a Friend or Loved One?

In the last few blog posts, I’ve said over and over, the sooner you call us after an accident the better. But what if the victim is completely incapacitated or in a coma? Is there anyway to move forward with the case? The answer is- absolutely. I’ve gotten calls from husbands, wives, children, brothers, sisters, friends, neighbors and even policemen and firemen. The call is still free for you as a loved one or friend. I can give you the same advice that I would give the victim, so that we can make sure critical evidence for their case doesn’t disappear. I get calls from family members all the time with a loved one in the hospital who is unable to communicate. If it’s a spouse or the parent of a child under the age of eighteen, not only can I give the advice, we can actually bring the case in court. In a case where death is involved, that person is going to be called the executor or administrator. I can actually start sending out letters saying that we don’t want important evidence to be destroyed. I can do that for people who are lying in a bed in …

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