Have a Happy and Safe 4th of July

Happy 4th of July from The Masters Law Firm

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Seat Belts Save Lives

This past Memorial Day in the Sisssonville area, four people walked away from a potentially deadly rollover accident with only minor injuries. The driver attributes this to the occupants wearing their seat belts.

Even though data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that national seat belt use is at a record high of 86% in 2012, seat belt use at night is less consistent than during the day. NHTSA data indicates that the risk of being involved in a serious crash is greater at night. In 2011, 43% of motorists died in an unrestrained collision during the day, compared to 62% of motorists at night.

Seat belts reduce the risk of injuries by approximately 50%. In unrestrained collisions, one-third of occupants were ejected from the vehicle and 75% of those died. In 2011, an estimated 11,949 lives were saved as a result of wearing a seat belt. However, an additional 3,384 more lives could have been saved if everyone wore a seat belt.

“Law enforcement officers across the country will be out day and night handing out tickets to unbuckled motorists,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “We hope our ‘Click It or Ticket’ efforts will encourage more motorists to buckle up and make it a lifelong habit.”

Contact the West Virginia Personal Injury Attorneys of The Masters Law Firm at 1-800-342-3106 if you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an automobile accident.

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Contact A Coal Mining Attorney To Learn About The Ever Changing Laws In West Virginia

The coal mines of West Virginia are as steeped in state folklore as Jerry West and the New River Gorge Bridge. Unfortunately, the coal mining industry has been the cause of countless deaths and injuries for decades. Coal mining is our heritage. For many, it’s a source of pride. A craft handed down from generation to generation. The hazards of such a craft are more evident than ever. Since the formation of OSHA, coal mines are far safer environments than they were in our grandfather’s era. However, the statistics for death and injury are still alarming. The  Bureau of Labor Statistics  reports on the dangers of coal mining as singularly one of the most hazardous occupations for decades running.

Improvements in safety measures have been implemented over the years but not enough has been done. Scrutiny from such groups, such as the EPA, have forced many of these companies to examine how much they are sacrificing for the bottom line. Those sacrifices often include our loved ones.

The bottom line should never take precedence over human life. Our competent attorneys are familiar with the ever evolving laws regarding the State of West Virginia’s coal mines. Contact the coal mining attorneys of The Masters Law Firm immediately if you or someone you know has been injured or killed in a coal mine related accident.

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Azithromycin May Not Be As Safe As Once Was Thought

The commonly used antibiotic Azithromycin is typically prescribed for infections of the ears, lungs, sinuses, skin, throat, and reproductive organs. New studies show that the popular drug isn’t as safe as once was thought. The FDA claims that Azithromycin (Zithromax, Z-Pak) can prolong the time between heartbeats, which can be dangerous and fatal for children and adults with heart conditions.

In a study between patients taking Amoxicillin and Azithromycin, Azithromycin users were at a higher risk for a potentially fatal heart rhythm. Consumers at particular risk include those with known risk factors such as existing QT interval prolongation, low blood levels of potassium or magnesium, a slower than normal heart rate, or use of certain drugs used to treat abnormal heart rhythms, or arrhythmias.

“Health care professionals should consider the risk of fatal heart rhythms with azithromycin when considering treatment options for patients who are already at risk for cardiovascular events,” the FDA said in a statement.

This warning comes 10 months after a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found a slight increase in cardiovascular deaths among people treated with Zithromax compared to those given the antibiotics Amoxicillin, Ciprofloxacin, or no treatment at all. Despite the new warning, the FDA has urged patients taking Azithromycin to “not stop taking their medicine without talking to their healthcare professional.”

Contact the West Virginia Personal Injury Attorneys of The Masters Law Firm if you have been injured, or if a love one has lost their life due to the adverse cardiovascular side effect of Azithromycin

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If Your Child Has Suffered Injury Due To Faulty Packaging

March 17 through 23 is known as Poison Awareness Week. This week is geared towards making parents and caregivers aware that unintentional poisoning is a chief cause of injury in children. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), each year approximately 90,000 children are rushed to the emergency room as a result of an accidental poisoning. Of that number, nearly 40 children will die and 90 percent of accidental poisoning incidents occur at home. Fortunately, these circumstances are highly preventable.

The most resent danger to children has been single load liquid laundry packets. Their small, colorful appearance make the poisonous packets appealing to children. The CPSC is encouraged that companies are improving packaging and appearance in an effort to prevent child consumption.

“Child-resistant packaging saves lives,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. “When used properly, this special packaging can prevent a child’s exposure to hazardous items. Parents must always remember to reseal the packaging after each use.”

Despite already experiencing a reduction in the number of injuries and deaths that occur each year, the United States, Canada, and Mexico are working towards lowering that number even further.

The CPSC advises parents and caregivers to follow these safety steps in order to prevent unintentional poisonings:

  • Keep medicines and household chemicals in their original, child-resistant containers.
  • Store potentially hazardous substances up and out of a child’s sight and reach.
  • Keep the national Poison Help Line number, 800-222-1222, handy in case of a poison emergency.
  • When hazardous products are in use, never let young children out of your sight, even if it means you must take them along when answering the phone or doorbell.
  • Leave the original labels on all products, and read the labels before using the products.
  • Always leave the light on when giving or taking medicine so you can see that you are administering the proper medicine, and be sure to check the dosage every time.
  • Avoid taking medicine in front of children. Refer to medicine as “medicine,” not “candy.”
  • Clean out the medicine cabinet periodically and safely dispose of unneeded and outdated medicines.
  • Do not put decorative lamps and candles that contain lamp oil where children can reach them. Lamp oil can be very toxic if ingested by children.

If your child has suffered injury due to faulty packaging contact the West Virginia defective product lawyers at The Masters Law Firm.

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Danny’s Law For Child Play Yard Safety

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has stated that as of February 28, 2013, all manufacturers and importers of child play yards are required to meet new federal safety standards.

A play yard is an enclosure with a floor and fabric or mesh walls. Many can be folded for travel or storage. In order for play yards to meet new safety standards, the CPSC says they are required to:

  • Not form a sharp V when the item is folded. This impedes a child from strangling in the said rails.
  • Have stronger corner brackets to inhibit sharp-edged cracks and to hinder a side rail collapse.
  • Have well-built mattress attachments to the play yard floor. This prevents children from getting hurt or trapped beneath the mattress.

The CPSC is enforcing this standard in part of the Danny Keysar Child Product Safety Notification Act, or what they call “Danny’s Law.” Danny Keysar is a child that was killed in 1998 when a recalled play yard collapsed, suffocating him while he was napping. The new play yard regulations are in honor of Danny and his family.

Additionally, the CPSC wants consumers to keep in mind where they place their baby inside the play yard. They receive reports each year of infant suffocation deaths from thick quilts, pillows, and other items overcrowding the sleeping baby’s space. For safe sleeping techniques for your baby, visit http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2012/09/safe-sleep-bedding-pillows-safety-and-more/ for more information.

Contact the West Virginia Personal Injury Attorneys of The Masters Law Firm at 1-800-342-3106 if your baby was injured or killed while in a play yard.

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Beware Of Carbon Monoxide The Silent Killer

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, tasteless, silent killer that is putting our elderly at risk. There are concerns over potential unidentified cases of CO poisonings occurring since it presents symptoms in our elderly that mimic other illnesses and diseases. CO poisoning is responsible for 50 deaths and 200 poisonings each year.

Common sources of carbon monoxide include central heating systems, gas appliances, and car exhausts. Many unknowingly expose themselves to dangerous levels of CO when these items are faulty or improperly used. The elderly are especially susceptible to a buildup of CO at home if they are house bound.

CO poisoning symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Fainting
  • Shortness of breath

There are several signs that carbon monoxide may affecting your loved one:

  • It may be safe to suspect CO poisoning when more than one household member is exhibiting poisoning symptoms, this includes pets.
  • Symptoms improve after time away from the home.
  • Symptoms may worsen on weekends when more time is spent at home.
  • Symptoms could be worse in the evenings after the stove or oven is used.
  • CO poisoning could be a potential cause of chronic diseases such as IHD or COPD.

According the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the best way to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your home is to:

  • Have all fuel-burning home heating appliances, such as your furnace, chimney, water heater, etc., checked by a professional each year to make sure they are working properly.
  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm on each level of your home and outside bedroom areas.
  • When using a generator, always keep it outside and far away from doors and windows. NEVER use a generator in your garage.

A new report released by the CPSC revealed that:

  • There was an average of 169 unintentional, non-fire CO poisoning deaths each year between 2007 and 2009.
  • One-third of carbon monoxide deaths were linked to heating systems.
  • The improper use of generators accounted for greater than 40% of CO related deaths.
  • The majority of carbon monoxide related deaths occur during colder months since the heat is turned up and indoor ventilation is low.

If you have an elderly friend or relative that lives alone, check in on them to make sure they are safe from CO poisoning. Urge them to have their appliances checked by a professional. Call your local gas company from a safe place if gas is smelled. Visit the emergency room immediately if you believe that you, or a loved one, is suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.

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Use Extreme Caution Around Downed Power Lines






Do you know what to do if you’re faced with downed power lines? With the sever weather Kanawha County is having, crews were busy cleaning up downed utility poles and power lines all across the Valley on Wednesday.

We all know that the wires on a utility pole carry electricity through them. However, even if the pole has been damaged and the wires are down, they are still extremely dangerous. Never, ever touch or go near an electrical wire. Don’t even go near anything or anyone that is in contact with the wire.

Here are some tips that can save your life if you encounter a downed utility poll:

  • Stay a minimum of 300 feet away from the downed wires, if possible.
  • Call the police or fire department immediately.
  • Avoid parking or driving near a downed power line.
  • Do not ever drive over a downed utility pole or power lines.
  • In the event a fallen wire comes into contact with a vehicle carrying passengers, stay in the vehicle until professional help arrives. If you are in a situation where you must exit the vehicle because of fire or life threatening hazards, jump away from the vehicle so that you do not touch any part of the vehicle and ground simultaneously. Jump with both feet at the same time (bunny hop) away from the vehicle until you get to safety.
  • DO NOT RUN AWAY FROM THE VEHICLE. Running could cause your legs to “bridge” the current. This could result in electric shock.
  • Never use water on an electric fire.

Sadly, good samaritans often lose their lives trying to assist victims after a car accident involving a utility poll. Even though our instinct is to help, you will be risking your life and the lives of the passengers if it is done incorrectly. By keeping a safe distance and calling for help, you can save your life and the lives of others.


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Safety Tips From The NHTSA For Driving In Winter Weather

The recent snow fall in Kanawha County Wednesday night resulted in quite a few accidents along Interstate 79. This morning 10 accidents were reported between 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. 

With more snow in the forecast, here are a few safety tips from the NHTSA for driving in this winter weather:

  • Visit your mechanic for a periodic safety inspection and to address routine vehicle maintenance. Have your vehicle checked thoroughly for fluid leaks and any other needed parts, repairs, or replacements.
  • Have your starting system battery checked for sufficient voltage. When the temperature drops, so does battery power. Be aware that it takes more cranking power to start your vehicle in cold weather. Also, be sure the connections are properly tightened and free of corrosion. If necessary, clean them with a solution of baking soda and water.
  • Make sure you have enough coolant in your vehicle and that it’s designed to withstand the winter temperatures you might experience in your area. A 50/50 mix of coolant to water is sufficient for most regions of the country. See your vehicle owner’s manual for specific recommendations.
  • If your engine cooling system hasn’t been flushed (draining the system and replacing the coolant) for several years, have it done now. Over time, the rust inhibitors in antifreeze break down and become ineffective. Coolant also needs to be refreshed periodically to remove dirt and rust particles that can clog the cooling system and cause it to fail.
  • Make sure your windshield wipers and defrosters are working properly. Refill the windshield washer reservoir as needed with high-quality, “no-freeze” washer fluid.
  • Before you drive, remove snow and ice from all of your vehicle’s windows and mirrors and keep them clean to maintain the best visibility. Also, be sure to clear snow and ice from your vehicle’s roof and hood to ensure good visibility for both you and following motorists.
  • Check tire pressure and make sure each tire is filled to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended inflation pressure, which is listed in your owner’s manual and on a placard located on the driver’s side doorjamb (called the “B-pillar”). If a vehicle does not have a B-pillar, then the placard is placed on the rear edge of the driver’s door. Tire pressure drops as the temperature drops. Properly inflated tires ensure optimum tire performance and optimum vehicle driving range.
  • Keep a tire pressure gauge in your vehicle at all times and check pressure when tires are “cold” – meaning they haven’t been driven on for at least three hours.
  • Check your tire tread depth and make sure you are using a tire appropriate for the winter driving conditions you may encounter. If the winter season means sleet, slush and snow-covered roads in your area or where you’re traveling to, consider replacing tires when they reach approximately 5/32″ of remaining tread depth. If you regularly encounter severe winter driving conditions, you may consider a dedicated winter/snow tire for optimum traction.
  • Stock your vehicle with essentials in the event of an emergency including a snow shovel, broom, ice scraper, jumper cables, flashlight, warning devices (flares, reflective markers, etc.) and blankets for protection from the cold. A mobile phone, water, food, and any necessary medicines may prove useful if you become stranded.
  • If road conditions are hazardous, wait until road and weather conditions improve before venturing out in your vehicle.
  • If you do become stranded, don’t run your car for long periods with the windows up or in an enclosed space to avoid asphyxiation from carbon monoxide poisoning. If you must run your vehicle, clear the exhaust pipe of any snow and run it only sporadically – just long enough to stay warm.
  • Motorists are also reminded to make safety their number one priority when they drive by bringing in their vehicles for a free fix when it’s been recalled; never driving distracted or drunk; wearing seat belts and obeying state laws.

For other driving safety tips, visit www.nhtsa.gov.


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Be Careful Taking Down Your Decorations!

Every year, hundreds of people fall from ladders while hanging and removing decorations. Since 13,000 people had trips to the emergency room in 2010 from ladder falls, we’ll take this opportunity to review some safety tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

  • Always select the correct ladder for the job.  That’s one that extends at least 3 feet over the roofline or working surface.
  • Always place your ladder on level and firm ground. Use leg levelers under the ladder to level uneven or soft ground. Leg levelers are devices that you can buy at a hardware or home improvement store.
  • Make sure the ladder can support both your weight and the load you are putting on it by checking the ladder’s maximum load rating.
  • Make sure your straight and adjustable ladders have both slip-resistant feet.
  • Set up straight, single or extension ladders at about a 75-degree angle. To test if you have the correct angle, stand up straight with your toes touching the feet of the ladder as it leans away from you. Extend your arms in front of you. Your palms should touch the top of the rung that’s at shoulder level.
  • Don’t use a metal ladder near power lines or electrical equipment. Stick with wood or fiberglass ladders in these situations and use extra caution. And no ladder should ever touch a live electric wire.
  • Check all rung locks and spreader braces on your ladder to make sure they are set.
  • Have a helper hold the bottom of the ladder.
  • Keep ladders away from a door that can be opened.
  • Only allow one person on a ladder at a time.
  • Center your body between the rails of the ladder at all times. Leaning too far to one side while working is a no-no and can cause you to fall. If you were to have a belt on, the buckle should never be outside of the right or left rail of the ladder.
  • Do not stand on the top three rungs of a straight, single or extension ladder.
  • Stay off of the ladder’s top step and bucket shelf. Labels on ladders warn you not to stand on them as well. Don’t try to climb or stand on the rear section of a stepladder.
  • Only use a ladder for its intended purpose. And follow the ladder’s instruction labels.
  • When you’re done with the ladder, put it away immediately. Never leave a raised ladder unattended.

Be careful taking down those holiday decorations and have a safe and happy New Year from The Masters Law Firm.

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