Articles from Skinner Law Firm

bed bugs nymphs and adults

Bed Bugs

A recent article in the Martinsburg Journal newspaper discusses some of the bed bug infestations at The Cottages of Martinsburg, a residential complex in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.

The article explores some of the harms that come from a bed bug infestation.  There is tremendous annoyance and inconvenience, both from the bugs and from the treatments.  There is the potential loss of valuable property, such as bedding and furniture.  There are the bites themselves.  And, of course, there is embarrassment when someone else learns you have bed bugs.  These problems are made much worse when a landlord is is slow to respond or unresponsive.

A great source of information on bed bugs comes from an EPA website page:  There are a tremendous amount of useful tips, including the six step process for getting rid of bed bugs.  Its third step, which is very important to all of us, is to:

Keep the Infestation from Spreading
-Anything removed from the room should be placed in a sealed plastic bag and treated.
Items that cannot be treated should be placed in a sealed plastic bag and left for an extended period of time to ensure any active bugs are dead (research shows variation in the length of time needed, but it can be as long as a year).
-Empty the vacuum after each use.
Seal the bag and throw it out in an outdoor trash container.
-Don’t discard furniture if you can eliminate the bed bugs from it.
-If furniture cannot be salvaged, discard it responsibly. Destroy it so someone else won’t be tempted to bring it into their home. For example:
Rip covers and remove stuffing from furniture items.
Use spray paint to mark furniture with “Bed Bugs.”
-Take steps to have infested items picked up as soon as possible by the trash collection agency.

If you live in The Cottages of Martinsburg, or other residential complex, and have had a bed bug issue, contact us to discuss whether there are any legal actions that you can take.

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

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 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).

Photo Credit:  CPSC Fire Safety 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.