Articles from Skinner Law Firm

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Why Skinner Law Firm?

Why should you contact Skinner Law Firm?

Contact Skinner Law Firm because:

  • Its history and attorneys have earned Skinner Law Firm a trusted and respected reputation in West Virginia and our region;
  • No cost case evaluation;
  • Its attorneys are well reviewed;
  • Its attorneys have more than 50 years of combined experience with West Virginia’s law;
  • If unable to drive to the initial consultation, then a team member can visit you;
  • Skinner Law Firm might be able to quell the worries and find much needed relief.

We Treat You Like Family

Call 304.725.7029 or message us to request a no cost case evaluation. The basic information shared will be reviewed by one or more of our attorneys. A team member will work hard to reply within one business day.

Laura Davis rocked at Harvard Law School!

Attorney Laura Davis

Attorney Laura Davis

Skinner Law Firm congratulates Attorney Laura Davis for successfully completing the American Trial Lawyers Academy’s Ultimate Trial Advocacy:  Art of Persuasion program. This prestigious advanced training for experienced trial lawyers is administered by the the American Association for Justice and The National College of Advocacy at Harvard Law School.

Through this intense week long program, Laura further improved her advocacy skills in many important areas:  forming relationships with the jury; using demonstrative evidence effectively; and countering negative juror perceptions and behavior. The sessions provided:  techniques on capturing, holding, and directing the jury’s attention; workshops on storytelling and theme creation; and trial psychology. She was able to practice and master many new skills in the small workshops.

Effective trial advocacy not only requires a high degree of intelligence but also excellent communication skills. Making and keeping a connection with every jury member is no easy task, especially when you have multiple generations serving on a jury. This prestigious training will further improve Laura’s advocacy for the victims of wrongdoing. Skinner Law Firm is proud to celebrate her for being accepted to and completing this program.

Stephen Skinner selected as a Super Lawyer

Attorney Stephen SkinnerStephen was selected this year as a WV Super Lawyer. Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process includes independent research, peer nominations, and peer evaluations. Stephen is one of three Super Lawyers in the Eastern Panhandle for personal injuries. Stephen is currently the only Super Lawyer in Jefferson, Berkeley, and Morgan Counties for Bad Faith Insurance, Brain Injury, Consumer Law, Lemon Law, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Trucking Accidents, and Wrongful Death.

“I’m very grateful to receive this honor, and I’d like to thank the great team at Skinner Law Firm, including my brother Andrew Skinner and my partner Laura Davis and my associate lawyer Bryan Gray, along with  our fantastic staff, because I couldn’t do it without them.” – Stephen Skinner

Denzel Washington was right…

Lawsuits:  It’s Not What You Know — It’s What You Can ProveAttorney Andrew Skinner

By Attorney Andrew Skinner

Denzel Washington was right:  “It’s Not What You Know; It’s What You Can Prove.” One of my favorite movies of all time is Training Day. Denzel Washington stars as a rogue detective whose job is to train rookie Ethan Hawke on his first day in the narcotics division in this 2001 movie. Denzel won an Oscar for his performance. To see the clip (Warning — it’s R rated), visit:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VBySfxKcQY. I quote this movie to one client or another at least once a week, sometimes more.

“Alonzo’s” words are spot on. “It’s not what you know; it’s what you can prove.” In the work we do at Skinner Law Firm, it doesn’t matter what we know in our heart of hearts. It only matters what we can prove to a judge and jury. And that’s why gathering evidence immediately after an event that you think could lead to a lawsuit is crucial. Whether you were just in a car crash, or you just got a harassing phone call from a debt collector, you need to start putting your evidence together right away.

WHAT TO DO AFTER A CAR CRASH

The single most important thing to do following a car crash is to avoid further injury. Be careful of other traffic, especially along a highway or at night. The second most important thing is to get proper medical care for those who need it. After immediate safety and medical attention, there are other steps you need to take in order to gather crucial evidence.

1.  Call 911. In West Virginia, a police officer will normally fill out a Crash Report. What gets put into a police report is generally what becomes the official story of what happened. If you don’t call 911, then there will be questions later on about everything. For instance, I had a client who got rear-ended while waiting for a stoplight. Because no one was transported to the hospital and the cars were drivable, they did not call the police – they just exchanged insurance information.  A few hours later, my client started stiffening up, and the next day, she could barely move. A year later, she still can’t sit in a car for more than an hour or so. The woman who hit her in the rear? She told her insurance company that my client put her car in reverse and backed into her.  Preposterous? Absolutely. But without that police report, it becomes a “he said, she said” situation, and now our client has to go through the expense of litigation.

2.  Take Pictures. One of the greatest inventions for car crashes is the smartphone camera. Use It. You can’t have too many pictures. Take pictures of your car, especially where the impact occurred, but also the airbags, the seat belt, and anything that is out of place. Take pictures of their car, inside and out, including their license plate. Take their picture. Take a picture of their driver’s license, their registration, and their insurance information. Take a picture of the whole crash scene, including stop signs, speed limit signs, traffic lights, intersections, mileage markers, house address numbers, etc. Take a picture of their cell phone (You’d be surprised at the number of people who claim after a crash they caused that they didn’t even have a cell phone). Take a picture of the police officer’s name tag, the police car, the ambulance, the fire truck. These will help us figure out which police department conducted the investigation, which ambulance company to get the bill from, and which fire company might have a run sheet.

Some people might not like having their picture taken. I get it, and you’ll need to be sensitive. Especially before taking a picture of the police officer, ask his or her permission.  Before taking a picture of the other driver, let them know that you’re doing it so that you will remember it later. It is important to remember that a car crash is an emotional event. Everyone involved has just had a shot of adrenaline – they are likely angry, hurt, confused, in shock.  Don’t aggravate an already tense situation, but try to capture what you can.  

3.  Keep a Diary. One of humanity’s greatest gifts and greatest curses is the ability to forget. Forgetting your child’s first events is a curse – it’d be great to be able to play back that first smile, those first steps, just like a DVR. Unfortunately, forgetting even the great moments is part of life. Forgetting a traumatic event, on the other hand, can be a gift because forgetting a tragedy makes other days bearable.

Immediately following a crash, you are absolutely certain that you will never forget what happened. However, memories fade. That is why it is important to track and write down what happened so you will be able to use it later.

Track every doctor you saw and when. Track every physical therapy appointment. Track every trip to the pharmacist. Track every time someone helped you do something you otherwise could not do, such as bathing, cooking, or cleaning. .

You need to know when you went to the doctor for several reasons. One is so that your lawyer can use this information to make sure all of your medical records and bills have been accounted for and nothing related to the wreck has been missed. Another is to give an indication of the pain and discomfort you endured.

You need to track whenever anyone did something for you. You can recover something called “loss of household services.” That means when your neighbor mows your lawn while you’re mending, you can recover for the cost of his services – even if he did it out of the goodness of his heart. When your sister moves in with you to cook, clean, and change your bandages, you can recover for her time as well. If you don’t have a record of what other people have done for you, you can’t prove to an insurance company claims adjuster or to a jury how much harm the crash actually caused.

Perhaps most importantly, track what you did to get better. When your physical therapist gives you exercises to do at home, you need to put in your diary every time you did that exercise.. This has two effects. First, it provides proof to a claims adjuster or a jury that you  worked your butt off to get better. The second reason is to be able to help your doctor evaluate what’s working and what’s not.

4.  Notify your insurance. You should report that you were in a wreck to your insurance agent, even when you’re not at fault. Your insurance might be able to assist you or help you avoid out-of-pocket costs while your claims are being reviewed. You might have Medical Payments coverage, which will cover some medical bills. You might have uninsurance or underinsurance, the two most important types of automobile insurance coverages that there are.  If you don’t call, you might not be able to tap into these coverages that you’ve already paid for.

5.  Consider contacting Skinner Law Firm.  If you’ve been in a crash, give us a call.  Sometimes it makes more sense for you to represent yourself when you’ve been injured.  But it’s  not easy. Insurance claims adjusters deal with injured car crash victims all day long — it’s what they do. You can be at a distinct disadvantage. We at Skinner Law Firm deal these insurance claims adjusters every day — it’s what we do. On your own, you may not have all the information you need to make well informed decisions. If you’re unclear about what is happening or your claims are not being handled quickly by the insurance company, then contact us. An initial consultation with one of our attorneys is free.  If we can help, we will.  If it makes more sense for you to represent yourself, we’ll let you know.

For more information about severe auto collision representation visit our motor vehicle injury page.

Protect your credit

Some tips for protecting your credit score:

Make sure your payment is received by your creditor by the Due Date. A missed or late payment will likely be reported to the credit bureaus and can have a negative impact on your credit score. If you cannot pay the entire balance, then pay the minimum balance due. Avoid getting near the credit limit of your credit card. Having a high balance, even just for one period, could have a negative effect on your score. Keep your charges under half of the credit card’s balance limit.    

Keep your oldest credit card open and use it occasionally. However, if your oldest credit card has unsatisfactory terms (such as a very high annual fee), then you can cancel it so long as you have another credit card account in good standing. If you don’t have another credit card, then keep your old account open until you have opened a new credit card and established a payment relationship with it (use the new card and pay off the charges). Closing an old credit card account could decrease your credit score.

Avoid excessive credit applications and requests for credit limit increases. Lenders do not like seeing other recent credit applications. Limit yourself to one new credit card application a year or less.

Check your credit reports for any errors. To order, visit AnnualCreditReport.com OR call 1-877-322-8228. You are entitled to one free copy of your credit report each year from each of the 3 credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. If you see a mistake on one of your reports, then report it in writing to that credit bureau. You should find instructions on how to properly report an error on your credit report.  PLEASE, Please, please, keep a copy of your letter to the credit bureau. If a bank continues to wrongly report a debt on your credit report, then we might be able to help. Contact us at Skinner Law Firm for a free case evaluation.

Lethal Lint: Your Lint Trap Could be a Death Trap

A house fire, even a small one, is a terrifying prospect.  A legal assistant here at Skinner Law Firm remembers a dryer fire at her home when she was a small girl.  She woke from sleep to the sound of the fire alarm going off.  They called 911.  She, her mother, and her sister evacuated the house, and her father investigated the source.  He found smoke pouring from the laundry room in the basement.  Fortunately, he was able to extinguish the fire before it spread, and the fire department made sure there weren’t any remaining hotspots.  However, each year, hundreds of other families aren’t so lucky.

Clothes dryers are a common source of residential fires.  From 2008 to 2010 there were an estimated 2,900 residential fires that started in clothes dryers.  The estimated property loss was around $35 million.  (FEMA).  This type of fire is generally covered by homeowners’ insurance.  In fact, Andrew Skinner has a former colleague whose entire legal practice involves claims from clothes dryer fires.

Although electrical defects are sometimes to blame for dryer fires, the most frequent cause of a dryer fire is lint trapped in the dryer’s venting duct.  Vents can also be clogged by birds’ nests or other debris from the outdoors.  When the vent is clogged, it can become heated to the point that the material clogging it ignites.

According to experts like the National Fire Protection Association and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, there are a number of ways to reduce the danger of a dryer fire.  Clean the lint trap of your dryer before each use.  Be careful about the items you put in the dryer; never dry things like athletic shoes or foam backed rugs because these synthetic materials are flammable.  Make sure your dryer is properly vented.  Use only metal ducts to vent and be sure the duct is no longer than thirty-five feet.  If your dryer is taking longer than usual to dry items, or if the cycle finishes, but the clothes are still damp, inspect the vent.  You should consider having a professional clean the vent at least every two to three years. (NFPA).

FEMA:  www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/statistics/v13i7.pdf
NFPA:  http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/for-consumers/causes/dryers-and-washing-machines/dryer-safety-tips
Photo Credit:  CPSC Fire Safety Week – http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2009/10/fire-prevention-week/

Skinner Law Firm

Partners Laura Davis, Stephen Skinner & Andrew Skinner.


Skinner Law Firm PartnersSkinner Law Firm’s attorneys represent those who have been severely harmed by someone else’s wrongdoing.  Our attorneys help individuals and families who have been financially, physically, or emotionally harmed by the wrongful and unlawful conduct of another person, corporation, or government entity.

Our attorneys’ practice areas include Personal Injury, Bad Faith Insurance, and Consumer Rights.

Stephen Skinner Receives 2011 “Living the Dream” Award

The Skinner Law Firm is proud to share the news that Stephen Skinner was recently awarded one of five “Living the Dream” awards given annually by the Martin Luther King, Jr. West Virginia Holiday Commission. Each year in honor of Dr. King, the Commission selects five “individuals who best exemplify, through action or personal traits, the principles and ideals characterizing King in his pursuit of social change.” Stephen received this prestigious award in the category of Human and Civil Rights, the category recognizing a person who has been actively involved in the pursuit of equality for others as an advocate for social change. Stephen is founder and current board president of Fairness West Virginia, a statewide civil rights advocacy organization. Under Stephen’s leadership, this group focuses on issues that include employment and housing discrimination, safe schools, and hate crimes. Other recipients of this year’s award were Rabbi Victor Urecki (Advocate of Peace), Professor Charles DiSalvo (Scholarship), and Delegate Clifton Moore (Governor’s “Living the Dream”). Stephen was pleased to receive the award at the same time as one of his favorite law school professors, Charles DiSalvo.