Cell Tower

Cell Tower (Photo credit: RyanDonahue)

OSHA Investigates After Collapsing Tower Kills Three

February 10, 2014--Harrison County, West Virginia--Three men were killed and others injured after a cell phone tower collapsed in rural Harrison County.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the collapse but has not yet released any official findings about the cause of the accident.

Killed in the collapse were Kyle Kirkpatrick, 32, of Hulbert, Oklahoma; Terry Lee Richard, Jr., 27, of Bokoshe, Oklahoma; and Michael Dale Garrett, 28, a Nutter Fort Volunteer Fireman from Clarksburg, West Virginia.  Another firefighter was also injured in the crash but survived and has been released from the hospital after being treated for his injuries, as was one of the cell phone tower workers.

"We Don't Know Why"

According to official reports from the accident site, the collapse occurred near noon on Murphy's Run Road near Clarksburg.  West Virginia State Police verified that four workers were engaged in working on a cell phone tower.  Three of them were about 70 feet off the ground and one was 20 feet off the ground when the tower collapsed.  All four of them were pinned in the wreckage.  When first responders arrived at the scene, a second cell phone tower next to the first collapsed, resulting in the death of one of the first responders.

The towers are operated by SBA Communications, who subcontracted the work to an independent engineering firm.  This firm in turn subcontracted the job to S. and S. Communication's Specialists in Oklahoma, the employer of two of the victims.  A spokesperson for SBA Communications noted, "At this time we do not know why the accident occurred."

OSHA Involvement

The federal government has become involved due to the increase in fatalities and injuries at communication tower worksites.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor, as of September 2013 there had been 14 incidents involving death or injury of workers.  Part of this is due to a sharp increase in the amount of work being done on cell phone towers due to infrastructure upgrades, but some of it may be due to failures to adhere to safety requirements or standards on the part of employers or contractors who work on these towers.

Deliberate Intent Claims

In West Virginia, there is a "Deliberate Intent" statute (W.Va. Code, 23-4-2(d)(2)(ii)) that provides an exception to the immunity from common law tort liability granted to employers under the West Virginia Workers' Compensation Act. This means that in certain situations, conventional legal claims can be filed by workers or their families against employers, in addition to workers' compensation claims. The Heavens Law Firm keeps up with all of the latest case law interpreting "Deliberate Intent" claims. The latest significant case was McComas v. ACF Industries, LLC.

Third Party Claims

If persons or entities other than the workers' employers are identified by OSHA or other agencies as having been responsible for causing and/or contributing to this incident, the families of the men may have conventional third party negligence claims against those persons and/or entities. It is important for people to recognize that when they have a third party claim, they may have to pay a portion of their third party benefits back (subrogation) to a workers' compensation insurance company. At the Heavens Law Firm, we assist our clients in understanding the implications of subrogation and we often negotiate for a reduction in subrogation using all available legal tactics to maximize our clients' net recovery.

Things to Keep in Mind

If you view our videos at www.heavenslaw.com, you will see why evidence preservation is important in these cases. A written request to preserve all evidence, physical, paper and electronic, should be sent to the men's employers and any other person and/or entity that had involvement in this incident. A written request for preservation of all evidence will serve the purpose of discouraging parties from disposing of incriminating evidence. In our experience, when this type of proactive approach is taken, it greatly strengthens the position of people who have been harmed or lost a loved one.           

OSHA's Role Should Not Be Exclusive

OSHA will prepare a report in this matter. The OSHA report will identify the causes and contributing factors in this incident. It will serve as a blueprint for identifying the persons and/or entities responsible for the incident. However, in our experience, it is not wise to rely exclusively on OSHA or other government regulatory agencies to protect the rights of workers and their families. That is why we recommend that all people in a situation where they have lost a loved one retain an experienced attorney to assist and guide them. 

Unique Experience of Heavens Law Firm in Work Accidents

Chris Heavens is an attorney with over 20 years of litigation experience, beginning working for corporations and insurance companies. Mr. Heavens defended coal companies, gas companies, construction companies and their contractors before he became a plaintiff's attorney.  He knows firsthand that the most costly missteps in these situations occur at the beginning of the process. Unfortunately, while the companies, their insurance companies and their attorneys are working immediately to protect their rights, families are grieving and not thinking about legal issues. This fundamental reality is why the Heavens Law Firm encourages people to talk to an experienced attorney immediately.

Source:  NBC News, "OSHA Investigating Fatal Cell Tower Collapse in Harrison County, WV," February 9, 2014.

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Pedestrian Crossing Lights

Pedestrian Crossing Lights (Photo credit: Dave Delaney)

Chris Heavens was able to settle a case against the Philadelphia Police Department for $200,000 involving an accident with an officer that injured an innocent man.  The victim, Sam Petrosky, was leaving his place of business and was passing through an intersection with a green light when he was broadsided by a police car traveling at a high rate of speed without lights or sirens.

While the police department insurance representative claimed that the officer was using siren and lights prior to the accident and that the officer had a green light at the intersection, Mr. Petrosky clearly knew that this was not accurate.  Mr. Petrosky stated that the light was green on his side of the intersection and that he did not hear any sirens or see any lights.  Fortunately, Mr. Petrosky's employer used video surveillance cameras outside his place of business.  These cameras were able to capture the entire incident.  The footage showed that Mr. Petrosky had a green light at the time of the accident.  Another witness also came forward to substantiate Mr. Petrosky's account of the accident.  Further evidence also showed that the officer involved in the crash had been cited by the Police Department for failure to use lights and sirens.

Chris Heavens said, "This case points to the importance of requesting evidence preservation immediately and utilizing investigators to interview witnesses immediately. What we did for Mr. Petrosky is no different than what we do for all of our clients on every single case. We leave no stone unturned in our quest to find the truth and to seek justice for our clients."

Mr. Heavens settled the Petrosky case for $200,000.  A copy of the video footage is posted on his website at www.heavenslaw.com.

About Heavens Law Firm:  Heavens Law Firm PLLC has offices in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. We are a personal injury firm. Chris Heavens offers legal representation for victims of all types of accidents and injuries in both West Virginia and Pennsylvania, including work-related accidents, vehicle crashes and defective products.  Currently, Mr. Heavens is representing litigants in the mass tort lawsuit involving GranuFlo and NaturaLyte dialysis drugs.

For More Information:  www.heavenslaw.com

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Woman Sues Gabriel Brothers for Child's Injuries

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Mummy will make it better

Mummy will make it better (Photo credit: gemsling)

October 31, 2013--Charleston, West Virginia--Parents whose children are injured through someone else's wrongdoing are often blamed by the wrongdoer for "not supervising their child."  This is the case for a woman whose child, age 7, was injured when shelving fell on his head at a Gabriel Brothers Store in Beckley.

Children between the ages of 0-7 are typically declared by courts to be incapable of negligence, so insurance companies for stores like Gabriel Brothers cannot blame these children for their own injuries. This usually results in insurance companies blaming the parents, even though their policyholder--in this case the store--may have been at fault.

In the law, there is a rebuttable presumption that children between the ages of 7-14 are incapable of negligence, but this presumption can be overcome. Once children are over the age of 14, they are usually considered to be capable of negligence under the same standards applied to adults.

In the instant case, the insurance company for Gabriel Brothers initially indicated that they would take care of the medical bills and reach a reasonable settlement with the parents of the child. However, after dragging out the process, the insurance company then blamed the mother for the child's injuries and offered only a nuisance settlement. This is very typical of insurance companies. They become friendly with the victims and then lower the boom by blaming the claimants for the child's injuries and offering very low settlements. The mother of this child is now suing Gabriel Brothers and AMCP Retail Acquisition Corporation for her child's injuries.

In this case, the child, age 7, was shopping with his mother in Gabriel Brothers when improperly installed shelving fell on his head. The mother, Heather Bryant, alleges that the store is at fault for failing to properly employ, instruct, train, manage and supervise its employees who were responsible for the shelving.  She alleges generally that the defendants failed to maintain their store in a manner that would be safe for foreseeable guests, such as children.

In the instant case, the accident resulted in the shelving striking the child on the head. The insurance company knows that the pain and suffering for the young victim as well as medical expenses are legally compensable damages, but they have forced the family to either accept a nuisance settlement or fight back by retaining a attorney.

Heavens Law Firm represents families in cases where children are harmed or killed through the fault of others. We are accustomed to insurance companies blaming the parents, even in cases of egregious misconduct by the insurance company's policyholders. This does not upset us because we are very skilled at dismantling such bogus insurance company tactics. But don't take our word for it; look at our case summaries and see our results on our web site. Additionally, see what parental clients are saying about their positive experiences with the Heavens Law Firm on our web site.

Store Negligence

Retail establishments are responsible for the safety of invitees, or people who are on the property for the financial benefit of the store. Even in cases where people are not on the property for the financial benefit of the property owner or licensees, the property owner still has a legal duty to keep the property safe for guests. Only in cases of trespass can property owners legitimately assert that they have no legal duty to provide for the safety of a person on their property.

In this case, the store and its employees had a clear duty to ensure that the shelving in the retail area was secure and safe.  Because the store and its employees did not do this, a young boy was injured, suffered pain and incurred medical bills. If the store gets away with this kind of unsafe condition, the safety of children in all of this company's stores can be called into question. It is that simple.

Hiring an Experienced Attorney

It is important that anyone who has suffered any type of damage from an accident seek the representation of an experienced personal injury attorney.  If a person is injured because of an unsafe condition on property, he or she should always take advantage of a free telephone consultation with an experienced attorney. This is a no-brainer because it costs nothing and if the person doesn't like what he or she hears there is no reason to hire the attorney. However, if a person does hire an attorney, it allows the attorney to take immediate action to preserve all evidence and to protect the rights of that person.

Most people understand that it is typical for an insurance company to attempt to blame the victim for the accident and to throw up every roadblock possible to avoid paying a fair settlement. However, they may criticize others who hire attorneys in the same situation. At Heavens Law Firm we always strive to help our clients understand that they should not view all attorneys or lawsuits in a negative light. Many times the fact that they had to hire us to prevent an insurance company from taking advantage of them gives them a completely different perspective of the legal process.

Chris Heavens has been representing victims of accidents such as this one for many years. Mr. Heavens was once an insurance attorney representing "the other side," so he understands the tactics used by insurers to avoid paying claims. Anyone who has suffered a personal injury accident can call Heavens Law Firm for a free telephone consultation.

Source:  The West Virginia Record, "Parent sues Gabriel Brothers for child's alleged injuries," Kyla Asbury, October 24, 2013.



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Homeowners Sue Liberty Mutual For Bad Faith

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Mine explosion

Mine explosion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

October 19, 2013--Charleston, West Virginia--When evidence is destroyed, it can be difficult to piece together what caused an accident or disaster.  For this reason it is critical to preserve evidence whenever possible by taking legal steps to protect it.  Several families found this out the hard way before Chris Heavens of Heavens Law Firm stepped in to correct the problem.

A House Explodes

On April 2, 2009, a house exploded due to a gas leak at a residence.  The exploding home caused damage to several homes around it, including that of the people who eventually became clients of the Heavens Law Firm.  At the time, the families whose adjoining homes were damaged simply assumed that the insurance company for the house that exploded would pay for the repairs to their homes. They could not have been more wrong.

Liberty Mutual, the insurer of the exploding house, wrongly denied liability and wrongly blamed the gas company for the explosion, telling the victims that they must look to the gas company to pay for their damages. Further, Liberty Mutual released the explosion scene back to its policyholders after its own investigators confidentially provided their incriminating findings to Liberty Mutual. Once the property was released, the Liberty Mutual policyholders immediately had it bulldozed. At this point, the adjoining property owners had little to back up their claim that the Liberty Mutual policyholders and that Liberty Mutual as liability insurer of those policyholders were responsible for their losses. In short, Liberty Mutual made sure that there was no evidence left for the adjoining property owners to examine to determine what caused the explosion.

Chris Heavens Fights For The Victims

The adjoining property owners hired Chris Heavens of Heavens Law Firm in Charleston, West Virginia, to help them with their claims. Mr. Heavens immediately recognized that Liberty Mutual and its policyholders had engaged in spoliation of evidence. However, since the evidence was gone, Mr. Heavens had to sue Liberty Mutual and its policyholders for spoliation of evidence and demand production of the "confidential" Liberty Mutual expert documents. These documents had been provided to Liberty Mutual before they released the property to their policyholders to have it bulldozed. Liberty Mutual refused to turn over their expert documents, engaging in a long court battle with Mr. Heavens to keep the expert documents secret. However, the court eventually ruled in favor of Mr. Heavens' clients, recognizing that the only evidence left would be the evidence obtained by Liberty Mutual's experts before the actual physical evidence at the explosion scene was bulldozed.

When the Liberty Mutual expert documents were finally produced, they showed that Liberty Mutual was informed by its experts within a few days of the explosion that the cause of the explosion was a gas line left open by the Liberty Mutual policy holders.  There was evidence of clear liability requiring an insurance company to make good faith offers of settlements to the victims. This meant that Liberty Mutual recognized the liability of its policyholders and that it should have made offers of settlement to the Heavens Law Firm clients within a short time after it received the information from its experts showing the liability of its policyholders.

Once Chris Heavens obtained the subject documents, he demanded payment of the Liberty Mutual $300,000 policy limit, which was immediately tendered to the plaintiffs.

Interestingly, some of the plaintiffs had negative views of lawyers and lawsuits when they retained the Heavens Law Firm. After their experience, they all pledged to never again criticize lawyers or people who hire lawyers without knowing what people had gone through before deciding to hire a lawyer and file a lawsuit.

When In Doubt . . .

When you, your family or your property has been harmed, you should immediately avail yourself of a free phone consultation with an attorney experienced in the area of law in question. This is a no-brainer because if you do not like what you hear, you do not have to hire the attorney. On the other hand, if you believe it is in your best interest to hire an attorney, acting promptly will help you avoid the common pitfall that occurred in this case--the inability to prevent culpable parties from disposing of evidence. The Heavens Law Firm has a long record of success in explosion and fire cases and a long list of satisfied clients. But don't take our word for it:  visit our website and see what former clients are saying about us.


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Child safety seat image indicating the various...

Child safety seat image indicating the various parts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

October 10, 2013--Washington, D. C.--The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued new child safety seat guidelines.  According to the NHTSA, parents should keep infants in rear-facing car seats until age two or until they exceed the height and weight standards for the seat.

Previous guidelines suggested that 12 months and 20 pounds was the minimum age and weight for parents to turn the seats to face the front of the car.  However, the American Association of Pediatrics has stated that this may be too early to turn the seats around.  After the child exceeds the height and weight limits for a rear-facing seat, they should transition to a forward-facing seat such as a booster seat until they are 4'9" tall and between 8 and 12 years old, at which time they should use a seat belt.  Car seats must also be properly installed in order to be effective.  Finally, the report recommends that children younger than 13 ride in the back seat of a car.  Car seats should never be placed in front of an active airbag.

Car Crashes Leading Cause of Child Death

According to the NHTSA, car crashes are the leading cause of death for children less than three years of age.  More than 5,000 people under the age of 21 die in crashes each year, while at least 120,000 are hospitalized and 2 million receive medical treatment.

However, there is good news from the report.  Children younger than two years of age are 75 percent less likely to die or to be severely injured in a crash if they are in a rear-facing child seat.

What You Should Do If Your Child Has Been Injured In A Crash

Having a child suffer injuries in a car crash is one of the most devastating things that can happen to a family. When a child is injured, despite being in a child seat, the child seat should be inspected. Some child safety seats have been recalled or had warnings issued concerning their use. Parents should investigate to determine if the child seat contributed to the child's injuries.

There are various resources available to people to determine if their child seat has been subject to a recall, service bulletin or warning (http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/recalls/childseat.cfm). Even if you cannot locate your child seat on a list of recalled child seats, you should contact an attorney who has handled product liability cases.  A product liability lawyer can search legal databases to determine if there have been lawsuits filed against the manufacturer of the child seat. This information can sometime shed light on legal issues of which people might not be aware.

Finally, if your child is injured in a child seat that is defective, you can count on the manufacturer, its insurance adjusters and its attorneys blaming you. The standard and pat defense of product manufacturers is to always blame the parents for "misuse" of the child seat or "failure to follow our instructions" in the use of the child seat. What they will not tell you is that sometimes child seats are recalled because the instructions are wrong or confusing.

Take Advantage of Free Phone Consultations

At Heavens Law Firm we constantly stress that anyone whose child is injured or killed in any type of accident should immediately seek a free phone consultation with an experienced attorney. This action is a no-brainer because the call and consultation are free. Even if the parents decide to take no legal action, they will have a better understanding of the legal issues and their rights after the free phone consultation. On the other hand, if parents decide to take legal action, prompt action to preserve all evidence will help their cause.


Chris Heavens, the founder of Heavens Law Firm, has represented families for more than 22 years in cases in which child injuries and child deaths were caused by accidents. He knows the law and has the human touch that people need when their child is harmed or they lose their child. But don't take our word for it; visit the Heavens Law Firm web site and see what former clients are saying about the firm and Mr. Heavens.

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I Was Injured By A Wrong-Way Driver

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St. Patrick's Day Collision  3 of 4

St. Patrick's Day Collision 3 of 4 (Photo credit: 7mary3)

October 9, 2013--Charleston, West Virginia--A driver who is traveling in the wrong direction can seem to come out of nowhere and can cause serious injury or even death for someone who is traveling the right way.  In fact, head-on crashes are considered one of the most serious types of car accidents and cause a large number of deaths and injuries each year.

Wrong-Way Driving Statistics

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than half of all traffic fatality victims were involved in crashes in which the car sustained some type of front-end damage.  This damage is indicative, in many cases, of a wrong-way crash.  The NHTSA also noted that more than half of all those killed in these crashes were not wearing safety restraints.

Why Would Someone Drive The Wrong Way?

In some cases, wrong-way drivers are simply confused or have lost control of their vehicles.  However, many wrong-way drivers are under the influence of drugs or alcohol or are suffering from a medical condition that leads them to lose control of their driving. 

Some wrong-way drivers are drinking and wind up hurting or killing another person due to their negligence.  In such a case, the victim or his or her survivors may have a claim against the person who caused the accident as well as against the establishment that served the alcohol due to dram shop liability.

In the case of a medical emergency that caused a driver to lose control and hit someone else, it is possible that the insurance company may attempt to deny the claim of the victim.  The insurance company may claim that the accident was unforeseeable and that the driver is not responsible for the damage.

What Should I Do If I Am Injured in a Wrong-Way Crash?

Those who have been injured in a wrong-way crash should immediately seek medical attention.  Injuries in wrong-way crashes can be very serious.  Further, these victims should talk to a personal injury attorney before settling any claims.

In many cases, insurance companies will attempt to either deny a claim completely or to quickly get the victim to settle for a small amount of money.  While both of these solutions are not in the best interests of the victim, many people do choose to settle or drop a claim because they do not believe they are entitled to or can collect any money. 

Heavens Law Firm has a track record of successfully suing drunk drivers and the drinking establishments that served alcohol to them.  We also have a track record of successfully suing insurance companies that wrongly denied claims by asserting a "medical emergency" defense that was allegedly not foreseeable by their policy holder. If you have an over-the-centerline accident, you should seek a free phone consultation with a lawyer who has a record of litigating and winning such cases.


At Heavens Law Firm, the founder of the firm, Chris Heavens, has the added advantage of having represented insurance companies as a young lawyer. He knows how the insurance companies evaluate such cases and knows what to do to get them to pay benefits to the victims of wrong way accidents.
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English: Origional caption: "Fig. 36. Blo...

English: Origional caption: "Fig. 36. Block system of Retreating Long-wall, West Virginia." Plan of a multi-panel longwall retreat mine, circa 1917. Edge detection has been used to convert the figure to a line drawing. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

October 8, 2013--Charleston, West Virginia--In the sixth fatal West Virginia coal mining accident of 2013, a worker was killed in a Marshall County mine operated by CONSOL Energy.  The 62-year-old man, identified as Roger King of Moundsville, suffered a head injury and died en route to the hospital, according to the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training.

King was a senior long wall maintenance coordinator at CONSOL and had worked for the company since 1969.  He had worked at the McElroy Mine, where the accident occurred, for 17 years.

Apparently a conveyor chain broke during the final stages of moving the long wall mining machine to a new location, striking King and causing his injuries.  More information will be released as the circumstance of the accident become known.  The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration has been dispatched to the mine to continue the investigation.  Due to the current government shutdown, more than half of the MSHA employees are furloughed.

The McElroy operation received the West Virginia top award for underground mine safety from the Mountaineer Guardian Awards in March.  CONSOL, based in Pittsburgh, has also been vocal about improving mine safety after two earlier deaths within three months at other West Virginia mines.

West Virginia Leads in Mining Deaths

There have been 15 mining deaths so far in 2013.  Mining deaths include any fatalities related to mining operations, whether or not the deaths actually occur underground.  West Virginia has had the most mining deaths so far, with six fatalities since January.  Many other miners and employees are injured every year in mining accidents; some of these result in permanent disability.

What To Do If You Suffer From A Mining Accident

Those who have been involved in a mining accident may suffer physical injury, loss of income and other damages as a result of the accident.  Family members whose loved ones are killed in a mining accident may suffer loss of income and support.  They are also faced with the emotional pain of losing a family member and the medical and funeral bills associated with such a tragedy.

People who have not been through the process often do not appreciate that coal companies and energy companies have "disaster teams" of lawyers and investigators who are immediately dispatched to accident scenes to protect the company's interests. Some people feel guilty about contacting a lawyer of their own immediately after a tragedy, not realizing that the people responsible for the accident have already done the same.

There are many legal issues involved in workplace accidents. People may be entitled to more than just worker's compensation benefits; however, much of the work required to identify these benefits is best done immediately after an accident.  Just after the event, witness memories are fresh and evidence can be preserved. The best thing for people to do in these situations is to talk to a lawyer for free by phone. Even if people decide to do nothing, getting free advice by phone provides more legal knowledge with no strings attached to that knowledge.

At the Heavens Law Firm we have a solid record of results representing people in work place accidents, including litigation against coal and energy companies like CONSOL.  We know the ropes when it comes to taking on these companies. The founder of our firm, Chris Heavens, has the added advantage of having worked representing coal companies and contractors as a young lawyer. People in these situations should talk to a lawyer with a background like Mr. Heavens as soon as possible.

Source:  West Virginia Gazette, "Coal miner killed in Marshall County," Ken Ward, Jr., October 4, 2013.

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Stethoscope (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

October 2, 2013--Charleston, West Virginia--The Hope Clinic is being sued for sexual abuse and sexual harassment by a woman who claims that one of the physicians acted inappropriately toward her.  Billie Jo Smith filed suit against ERX Group, Hope Clinic and Dr. John Pellegrini. Dr. Pelligrini had his license suspended for allegedly engaging in inappropriate behavior with female patients, including Ms. Smith. Other lawsuits are pending.  

Like others, Smith claims that Dr. Pellegrini is responsible for the sexual harassment and abuse and that ERX and Hope Clinic are also liable for their negligence in allowing the conduct to occur.  She says that both defendants had a duty to provide reasonable care and a reasonably safe environment for patients and both were negligent in hiring and supervising Pellegrini. Since Pelligrini had prior disciplinary problems and lawsuits related to similar allegations, Smith says that the two defendants should have known that the doctor posed a potential threat to female patients and that they had a heightened duty to protect female patients from such conduct.

According to Smith's suit, ERX and Hope had been on notice for the exposure of female patients to the doctor's care.  However, he was continued to be allowed access to female patients.  Because of this, Smith claims she suffered a variety of problems including humiliation, emotional distress, physical pain and suffering and medical costs. She is seeking punitive damages as well as compensatory damages, according to the lawsuit.

Sexual harassment can occur in many contexts, including the doctor and patient relationship. In some cases, victims are afraid to come forward because of the status, wealth or power of the harasser. However, the law protects victims from retaliation and may impose punitive damages on a defendant that does retaliate against a victim.

Chris Heavens of Heavens Law Firm of Charleston, West Virginia, as well as James McQueen, Jr., of McQueen Davis PLLC in Huntington, are representing Ms. Smith.

Heavens Law Firm has successfully represented other victims of sexual abuse or harassment in the past.  For many years, Chris Heavens has served the people of West Virginia and Pennsylvania as a personal injury attorney who cares about the victim's rights and works diligently to represent those who have suffered due to the negligence or actions of others. 

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Motorcycle Rider Dies in US 13 Crash

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Motorcycle Accident

Motorcycle Accident (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

August 22, 2013--New Castle, Delaware--A 30-year-old motorcycle rider died in an accident in which he collided with a vehicle on U.S. 13 in front of the New Castle Airport, according to authorities.  Chad Brooks died at Christiana Hospital from injuries sustained when he was ejected from his motorcycle after it collided with a car driven by Edward Woodring of Newark, Delaware.


Woodring, 58, apparently pulled out into the path of the oncoming motorcycle, causing the collision.  Both the rider, who was thrown from the cycle, and the motorcycle itself flew across the road to land in the southbound lanes of the highway.  All traffic through that area was restricted as police investigated the scene.


While the final outcome of the investigation is still pending, and charges have not been filed against the driver, it is possible he will be charged with failure to yield and faulted with the accident.


At Heavens Law Firm we understand what Mr. Brooks' family is going through right now, because we have represented families in these situations. They are grieving and are not thinking about legal issues. But the insurance company for Mr. Woodring is already fast at work on its investigation, attempting to find any evidence to lessen the liability assessment on Mr. Woodring in an attempt to avoid paying benefits to the Brooks family.


At Heavens Law Firm we know insurance company tactics because our founder, Chris Heavens, began his career working for insurance companies in accident cases. In this case, the insurance company for Mr. Woodring may attempt to contact the Brooks family and obtain statements. They may even send checks for less than the amount to which the Brooks family is entitled. These tactics are common. That is why we at the Heavens Law Firm encourage people to talk to a lawyer as soon as they are feeling up to it and certainly as soon as they receive contact from any insurance company saying that "they want to help out" the victims.


Liability in Motorcycle Accidents


Motorcycle accidents are often deadly or cause serious injuries for motorcycle riders.  Motorcycle riders have little to no protection from ejection and serious injury, even if they are wearing a helmet.  Many states, including Delaware, do not require motorcycle riders to wear a helmet if they are over 18 years of age.


This means that, no matter who is at fault in a motorcycle accident, the chances are great that the motorcycle rider will bear the brunt of the injuries in a collision between a motorcycle and a larger vehicle.


Liability for motorcycle accidents can be difficult to determine.  Many people, including investigating officers, tend to blame motorcycle riders for accidents no matter who was truly at fault for the crash.  Those riders who are not in any way to blame for their injuries may still find it difficult to combat the prevailing attitude that motorcycles are inherently dangerous and that motorcycle accident victims "got what they deserved" for using such devices in the first place.  While this is a reprehensible attitude that has no basis in reality, it is surprisingly prevalent.


Not surprisingly, insurance companies often seize on these attitudes in an attempt to deny legitimate claims filed by motorcycle accident victims or their families. That is why it is important for people involved in motorcycle accident cases to immediately contact an experienced lawyer for a free telephone consultation in these cases. It may be necessary for victims to immediately retain a lawyer so that the lawyer can have an investigator interview witnesses and confirm their accounts of the accident while events are fresh in their minds. In cases where accidents occur in commercial areas, the victim's attorney and investigator will also want to check with local businesses to see if there is any video surveillance footage of the accident. It is important for victims to act quickly on this because businesses often have document retention policies that may result in video footage being erased or discarded after a certain period of time.


At Heavens Law Firm we obtained a $4.5 million dollar result for the family of a man who was killed by a drunk driver that had purchased several bottles of wine from a 7 Eleven store over a period of 4 hours. Our client retained us within days of the incident and we immediately sent certified letters to 7 Eleven and Southland Corporation asking them to preserve all video footage from the subject store. Our investigator was on the scene within days obtaining statements from witnesses. The witnesses stated that the man had been drinking wine on the parking lot of the 7 Eleven store all afternoon before taking off in his car. Local residents further said that the man had done so on other occasions. Despite this independent witness testimony, the skilled and aggressive lawyers for 7 Eleven attempted to discredit the witnesses. Had we not obtained the video footage showing the drunk buying 4 bottles of wine over several hours, those savvy defense lawyers for the corporation probably could have convinced people that the drunk was never at the 7 Eleven and that all of the local neighbors were on drugs or drunk themselves.



 At the Heavens Law Firm we constantly stress to victims that the insurance companies in these cases hire very skilled and aggressive attorneys to defend these cases. We never take these corporations, insurance companies or their lawyers for granted. We prepare as if every case is the Super Bowl. We know that if the insurance company can deny your claim they will do so without any compunction or feelings of guilt whatsoever. That is why victims needs to level the playing field by retaining someone who has taken on and defeated these insurance companies and defense attorneys in the past. Chris Heavens has a solid record of results and a long list of satisfied clients who can attest to his ability as a lawyer and to his human touch. But don't take our word for it, visit our website at www.heavenslaw.com to see what our clients are saying about us.


Source:  Delaware Online, "Motorcyclist dies after collision with car along US 13," August 21, 2013.


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Infant Dies In Interstate 77 Accident

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Brazos Co. Texas Sheriff's Office Diorama

Brazos Co. Texas Sheriff's Office Diorama (Photo credit: Phil's 1stPix)

August 22, 2013--Jackson County, West Virginia--A baby is dead after a tragic crash on Interstate 77 in Jackson County that also injured the child's parents.

Jessica Souther was driving south near the Kenna exit when she lost control of her vehicle, hit the median and rolled the pickup truck into the northbound lanes.  The baby and Souther as well as Shawn Souther were thrown from the vehicle and injured.  All three were flown to an area hospital where the baby died from his injuries.  The adults remain in the hospital in undisclosed conditions.

A preliminary investigation will focus on whether the adults were wearing safety restraints and whether the child's safety seat was secured to the vehicle. Although the child was in a safety seat at the time of the crash, the seat was ejected from the vehicle. Whether the child seat was secured in the vehicle will be a major issue in determining why the child was ejected from the vehicle. There are a number of child safety seats that have been recalled because of their propensity to separate from vehicles in accidents, despite being secured to the vehicle.

At Heavens Law Firm we stay at the forefront of products liability issues through our membership in various organizations that keep us regularly updated on recalled products. In potential product liability cases it is important for people to preserve the vehicle and child safety seat for analysis to determine if a defect played a role in the child safety seat separating from the vehicle. In child safety seat cases, it is also important for people to review NHTSA's Child Seat Recall Campaign Listing (http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/recalls/childseat.cfm). This document contains a comprehensive overview of recalled child safety seats and the reason(s) for the recall.

If you view the Heavens Law Firm videos at www.heavenslaw.com, you will see why it is important for evidence to be preserved in accident cases, particularly where there may be something more than just vehicle operator negligence at issue. A request for preservation of evidence should be sent to all insurance companies for any vehicles involved in an accident, including a specific request for preservation of a child seat where there may have been some defect in a child seat. If the vehicle and child seat are not preserved, it could make it more difficult to analyze issues pertaining to the causes or contributing factors that led to the death of a child. Additionally, insurance companies will often assert "spoliation of evidence" defenses if evidence is not preserved in attempt to get out of paying benefits.

Child Safety Seat Issues

According to research, seventy percent of all child safety seats are improperly installed. The manufacturers of defective child safety seats may seize on these statistics to distract attention from the defect in their child safety seat and to focus attention on the alleged failure to install the seat properly. This is why people in these situations should call an experienced product liability lawyer that can retain experts to analyze the vehicle and the child safety seat to make an objective assessment of the situation.

Many states offer inspections to determine if child safety seats are installed properly, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also offers advice on how to tell if a car seat is safely put in place in a vehicle.  However, even with this type of help, not all child seats fit identically in all vehicles and some child seats may have defects of which state agencies may not be aware.

Who Is Liable for a Car Seat Accident?

The difficulty of installing a car seat correctly and the high number of infant safety seats that are dangerously and improperly used leads to questions about how the manufacturers of car safety seats are getting away with selling such important objects that are obviously so difficult to use safely.

Product liability lawsuits can hinge on several factors.  One of these factors is an inherent flaw in the design of a product.  If an infant car seat is designed so that it is inherently dangerous, this design flaw can be the subject of a lawsuit if an infant is subsequently injured.  Another type of product liability lawsuit may be based on defective manufacture of a car seat.  This means that the car seat is designed properly but not made to specifications, leading to problems that result in injuries to infants or children.

There is another type of liability, however, that may apply to a car seat accident, and that is the failure of the manufacturer to reveal dangers that are known to be a problem with the car seat.  This failure to disclose dangers can also be the basis of liability on the manufacturer's part if a child is injured or killed.

The Heavens Law Firm handles product liability cases throughout West Virginia, with their office centrally located in Charleston, West Virginia. The Heavens Law Firm has a solid record of results and a reputation for personal attention to client service. But don't take our word for it. Visit our web site at www.heavenslaw.com and see what our clients are saying about us.

Source:  WOWKTV, "Two adults injured, one child dies in accident on I-77 in Jackson County," Patti Nieto and Jessie Shafer, August 21, 2013.


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