Coal mining is crucial to the West Virginia economy, and thousands of coal workers are employed in the Huntington area and throughout the state. But while coal provides a lot of jobs for West Virginians, it is also among the most hazardous industries to work in. Much of the work is performed underground in dark, damp, and enclosed conditions where a lot of things can go wrong.
Mining accidents can result in serious injuries and in the worst cases, fatalities. When this happens, workers who are injured and families of those who are killed deserve to be fully compensated. Recovering compensation for a Huntington, WV coal mining injury is not an easy process, however, because employers and insurance companies often put up unnecessary roadblocks that can cause an injured worker to lose out on the level of benefits they deserve.
Since 1974, the Masters Law Firm has been standing up for injured coal workers in Huntington and throughout West Virginia. Our attorneys have an in-depth understanding of the coal industry, and we know what questions to ask and what steps are needed to thoroughly investigate coal mining accident cases. We work closely with our clients, providing the strong personalized representation they need and deserve.
We understand that the coal industry is very influential here in West Virginia, and we are not intimidated by their influence and their vast resources. Our firm has been nationally recognized by Super Lawyers, Million Dollar Advocates, and other reputable legal organizations for winning landmark cases and securing millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for our clients. We have a successful track record with even the most complex cases, and we have the knowledge, skills, resources, and commitment to put our clients in the best possible position to recover maximum compensation.
Huntington, WV Coal Mining Accident Injuries
We handle all types of coal mining accident cases in West Virginia, including but not limited to:
Coal Mine Explosions: Coal dust is highly combustible, and the methane gas that is released during the mining process can cause an explosion if the methane levels are not properly monitored and other safety guidelines are not being followed. Coal mine explosions and fires that result from them can cause serious burn injuries, injuries after falls caused by the explosion, and illnesses from inhaling smoke, heat, and toxins.
Roof Collapses and Rib Rolls: Miners have been known to get trapped when a roof caves in or collapses, resulting in serious and sometimes fatal injuries. Miners can also get crushed when a rib roll falls on them. There are a number of safety guidelines in place to prevent this from happening, but they are not always followed. Lack of proper training is another reason why these types of collapses might occur.
Electrical Accidents: Part of the coal mining process involves working with electricity in underground mines. This can be very hazardous because of the dampness, coal dust, methane gas, and other inherent dangers that exist. When safety procedures are not followed properly, coal workers can end up getting electrocuted, which can result in serious injury or death.
Equipment Accidents: Coal mining involves the use of several types of heavy equipment and machinery. Sometimes, machinery defects can cause equipment accidents and injuries to workers.
Flooding: During certain times of the year, heavy rains in the Huntington area can cause the mines to get flooded. When this occurs, the ceilings and walls inside can quickly erode and collapse, causing workers inside to get trapped.
Exposure to Toxic Substances: Coal dust, methane gas and other toxic substances have been known to cause serious illnesses to workers who are exposed to them over an extended period of time. Black lung disease is one of the best-known examples of this occurring.
Pursuing a Huntington, WV Coal Mining Accident Claim
Recovering compensation for a coal mining accident can involve a number of different legal avenues, including:
Workers’ Compensation Claim
The first legal recourse after being injured in a Huntington area coal mining accident is usually to file a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ comp is a no-fault system, which means that an injured worker should be eligible for benefits regardless of how the injury or illness occurred. But as we touched on earlier, the claims process is far more complicated and confusing than it should be, and it can be difficult for a claimant to recover the benefits they are entitled to.
If you are approved for workers’ compensation benefits, you will receive reimbursement for reasonable and necessary medical expenses, a percentage of lost earnings, rehabilitation costs, and benefits for those who sustain permanent injuries. Our attorneys will help ensure that you qualify for the level of benefits you deserve.
Third Party Personal Injury Lawsuit
There are some coal mining accidents that are caused by parties other than the employer. When this happens, an injured worker can file a personal injury lawsuit directly against the responsible party. For example, maybe the accident was caused (at least in part) by a subcontractor who was doing electrical work inside the coal mine. Or maybe the accident occurred because of an equipment malfunction that a product manufacturer is responsible for.
Personal injury claims require that you prove negligence on the part of the person or entity you are suing, but you may also be able to recover more compensation with this type of claim. In addition to direct monetary damages like medical bills and lost wages, you might also be eligible for noneconomic damages such as pain-and-suffering, psychological distress, and diminished quality of life. We will look closely at your case to determine if there are any outside parties that could have been responsible for your accident.
Personal Injury Claim Against the Employer
If your employer (in this case the coal mining company) has workers’ compensation coverage through which you can recover benefits for your injury, injured employees are usually prohibited from suing them directly. However, there are some limited cases in which there is clear and convincing evidence that the employer violated specific workplace safety laws and standards. When this happens, it may be possible to file a personal injury claim against the employer under the legal theory known as “deliberate intent”.
If you or a loved one was injured or killed in a coal mining accident in West Virginia, the Masters Law Firm is ready to go to work for you. Call our office today at 304-342-3106 or toll free at 1-800-342-3106 or message us online to schedule a free consultation and case assessment with one of our attorneys.