If you or someone close to you has suffered injury while working in a West Virginia coal mine, you deserve skill representation from attorneys who have a successful track record with these types of cases. Mining accidents can result in severe and catastrophic injuries; and working in the mines day in and day out can expose workers to hazardous substances that cause serious illness. When these situations occur, you need attorneys who know what it takes to recover full and fair compensation on your behalf.
For nearly half a century, the Masters Law Firm has been representing injured coal workers in Parkersburg and all over West Virginia. We know that coal is a major industry in the Mountain State, and this industry boasts a proud tradition that dates all the way back to the mid-1700s. But at the same time, mining is very hazardous work, and coal companies are required to follow federal and state laws and regulations as well as best safety practices. Otherwise, they put their workers in serious danger.
Legal Options for Injured Coal Workers in Parkersburg, WV
When someone gets injured or killed in a Parkersburg area coal mining accident, our attorneys go to work immediately to thoroughly investigate the incident and determine the root cause and all contributing factors. From there, we develop the most appropriate legal strategy for our client.
The first recourse that an injured worker has is usually to file a workers’ compensation claim with their employer. The workers’ comp claims process is far more complicated than it should be, however, and injured workers often have trouble recovering the benefits they are entitled to. We work closely with our clients throughout the claims process to help ensure that everything goes smoothly, and they are able to get the benefits they deserve.
In many cases, there may be other legal avenues available for an injured coal worker in addition to workers’ compensation. For example, maybe the mining injury happened because of a machinery or equipment malfunction. If this were the case, you may be able to file a product liability claim against the manufacturer, supplier, or distributor of the faulty product that caused the coal mining accident.
Another common scenario in which an accident can occur is when a coal worker is transporting coal from the Parkersburg area mines to the rail carriers that ship the coal to other states. When another vehicle collides with the coal truck and causes serious injury or death to a worker, then the victim or their family can file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit directly against the driver that was responsible for the accident.
In some cases, an injured coal worker may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit directly against the mining company. Lawsuits against an employer who has workers’ compensation coverage are generally prohibited, but there are some limited cases in which there is clear and convincing evidence that the mining accident was caused by the deliberate actions of the employer. When this is the case, it may be possible to file a “deliberate intent” claim against that employer.
It is important to note that deliberate intent claims are very difficult to prove, and it is rare for a worker to win this kind of case. But this does not mean it is impossible. Just make sure that you are working with a firm that has a successful track record with these types of cases and the proven ability to hold West Virginia employers accountable for their deliberate actions.
Over the years, the attorneys at the Masters Law Firm have seen just about every scenario that can come up in a West Virginia coal mining accident case. Our extensive experience and in-depth understanding of the complexities and nuances involved with cases like these gives our clients the assurance that we will leave no stone unturned in helping them recover maximum compensation.
Types of Coal Mining Accidents in West Virginia
Earlier we talked about coal truck accidents that happen when the driver is bringing the coal from the mine to customers or transloaders that will load them onto the rail carriers for further shipment. While this is one of the major industry hazards, there are numerous other dangers that workers face every day inside the coal mines.
Some of the most common types of Parkersburg area coal mining accidents include:
Slip, trip, and fall accidents, often due to working in dark or poorly lit areas.
Coal dust and methane gas explosions that frequently occur inside the mines.
Entrapment or crush injuries from roof collapses and rib rolls.
Wall and ceiling erosions/collapses and drownings from excessive flooding inside the mines.
Ongoing long-term exposure to coal dust, frequently resulting in black lung disease.
As mentioned previously, injuries and deaths that are caused by coal mining equipment accidents.
Injuries in the Parkersburg area coal mines are commonly caused by inexperience/lack of proper training and/or failure to follow proper safety guidelines. But oftentimes, the negligence or reckless actions of an outside party could be a contributing factor as well.
Workers Compensation vs. Personal Injury Claims in Coal Mining Accident Cases
An injured coworker is usually going to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, or they may also be able to file a personal injury claim. It is important to note that you cannot receive double compensation for the same losses. For example, if you collect workers’ comp benefits for lost earnings and you are subsequently awarded damages for the same lost earnings in a personal injury lawsuit, workers’ comp will need to be paid back.
Workers’ compensation is usually the first legal avenue an injured worker will pursue, and there are advantages and disadvantages with this program. The major advantage is that you do not have to prove negligence (in the accident) in order to qualify for benefits, which makes it much easier to lodge a successful claim vs. filing a lawsuit.
The downside of workers’ comp is that your benefits are limited to direct economic losses, which include reasonable and necessary medical costs, a percentage of lost wages, rehabilitation expenses, and compensation for a permanent injury. Unfortunately, you cannot receive compensation for noneconomic losses (such as pain-and-suffering) through the program.
If you are able to successfully pursue a personal injury lawsuit, you can recover compensation for losses that are real but more intangible, such as physical pain-and-suffering, emotional trauma, psychological distress, diminished quality of life, loss of consortium (for the spouse or partner of the injured individual), and loss of guidance, support, companionship, and care (for family members in the case of a wrongful death). Your attorney will work closely with you to determine if filing a personal injury claim is a viable option in your case.
At the Masters Law Firm, we know that coal mining injuries take a major physical, emotional, and financial toll on victims and their families, and we are here to provide strong legal guidance and moral support during this difficult time. Our initial consultations are always free, and if we end up taking your case, we will not charge you any attorney fees unless we recover compensation on your behalf.
To get started, message us online or call our office today at 304-342-3106 or toll free at 1-800-342-3106 to schedule your free consultation. We look forward to serving you!