The number of coal jobs is dwindling, but there are still many people who work within the coal industry in West Virginia. And while working with coal may be the way that many individuals support themselves and their families, coal mining is a dangerous livelihood. If a mining accident occurs, involved workers may suffer serious injuries, some of which may be fatal.
At The Masters Law Firm, our coal mining accident attorneys understand how dangerous coal mining can be, as well as how tragic coal mining accidents are. If you’ve been injured, our coal mining accident attorneys are here for you.
Types of Coal Mining Accidents
Recognizing the dangerous nature of coal mining, in 1969, Congress passed the United States Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act. The Act was designed to prevent mining accidents by requiring multiple annual inspections of all underground coal mines, implementing mandatory fines for violations, implementing criminal penalties for any willful violations, strengthening safety and health standards, implementing a training grant program, and more. Despite these changes, though, coal mining accidents still happen.
Types of coal mining accidents that are possible include:
Leaks of toxic substances;
Machinery and equipment accidents;
Injuries due to improper training; and
Injuries due to failure to follow safety rules.
These accidents can result in serious or fatal worker injuries, including:
Chemical and hazardous material exposure injuries; and
You Deserve to Be Compensated for Your Harm
If you are a coal miner who has been injured in a coal mine accident, or you are the loved one of a coal worker who has died as a result of working in the coal mines, you deserve to be compensated.
Typically, the first source of compensation that an injured worker (or surviving loved ones) will turn to is workers’ compensation. Employers are required to carry this type of insurance, which offers compensation to workers without workers having to prove anyone’s fault, or being barred from recovering if their own negligence contributed to the accident. In exchange for no-fault benefits, workers are generally prevented (except in some limited cases) from bringing forth a lawsuit for damages against their employers. Workers’ compensation insurance pays for compensation for medical costs and disability benefits. Death benefits are also available to family members whose loved one has been killed in a workplace accident. In West Virginia, a workers’ compensation injury claim or claim for death due to an injury must be filed within six months of the date of injury or death.
Sometimes, workers’ compensation benefits aren’t enough to compensate a person for their losses in full. In addition to or in place of a workers’ compensation claim, an injured worker may consider bringing forth a third-party liability claim for damages. This type of civil action seeks to hold a third party (other than the worker’s employer) liable for a worker’s damages, including compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and non-economic losses like pain and suffering.
An example of a third-party liability claim is a coal worker who was mangled by a piece of defective equipment filing a lawsuit for damages directly against the designer, manufacturer, or distributor of the defective equipment for damages. Surviving family members may also be able to bring third-party suits in the form of wrongful death claims.
If your employer violates known safe work standards or specific workplace safety laws, an employee or surviving family member may be able to file a civil suit in West Virginia in addition to filing a workers’ compensation claim. West Virginia Code §23-4-2 allows these types of cases, often called “deliberate intent” cases, although that description is misleading because the law does not require you to prove that an employer deliberately intended to harm you.
Coal Mining Accidents Are Serious – Don’t Leave the Outcome of Your Case Up to Chance
A worker who is injured in a coal mining accident will likely suffer severe injuries and thousands of dollars’ worth of losses in the form of medical expenses, lost wages, rehabilitation costs, and noneconomic losses as well. While the injured worker may just assume that by filing a workers’ compensation claim they will be awarded the settlement that they deserve, it doesn’t always work this way.
If you are a worker who has been injured in a coal mining accident, you need an attorney on your side. Our coal mining accident attorneys have experience working on cases like yours bringing forth civil claims against employers, third-party liability claims and wrongful death cases.
We will thoroughly investigate your case, call upon experts where needed, identify liable parties, and help you understand the differences between workers’ compensation, civil suits against your employer, and third-party liability claims. Once we have calculated your damages and determined what your case is worth, we will be responsible for issuing demand letters and negotiating any settlement offers that you receive.
Call The Masters Law Firm Today
While working in a coal mine may be an inherently dangerous job, this doesn’t mean that you don’t have rights and legal recourse in the event that you are involved in an accident. At The Masters Law Firm, our goal is to recover the largest settlement possible on your behalf and litigating your case if need be.
We have three decades of experience protecting the rights of coal miners in our state. If you think that you have a claim, please call our office directly at 304-342-3106 or toll free at 1-800-342-3106. We can also meet with you in person, or you can send us a confidential message about your case using the intake form on our website.