Coal Mining Accidents

West Virginia Workplace Injury Attorney

Located in Elkins, Wolfe Law Firm is recognized for its quality representation in personal injury law. West Virginia attorney Dorwin J. Wolfe has a successful track record defending the rights of coal miners injured in workplace accidents. Wolfe Law Firm is especially sensitive to the specific dangers facing miners and is dedicated to ensuring they receive full compensation for their harm.

Coal Mining Accident Statistics

Coal mining is one of the most dangerous professions in the world. Approximately 70 people each year die in mining-related accidents. Underground mining for bituminous coal has an especially high rate of occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. The rate of nonfatal injuries in underground mining is generally 66 percent higher than that of other industries. The severity of the injuries requires an average of 34 days away from work. West Virginia has experienced some of the worst mining disasters in the United States. The Farmington coal mine killed 78 workers in 1968. The Upper Big Branch Mine killed 29 miners in 2010.

Coal Mining Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities

Every day, coal miners face acute injuries, long-term illness, and the threat of death. Falls, fires, and explosions are common. Coal dust likewise irritates absorbent lung tissue, causing disease. Some accidents prove fatal; death is considered an occupational hazard in mining. Injuries sustained in mining accidents often involve:

  • Burns, falls
  • Entrapment
  • Broken bones
  • Dismemberment
  • Rock blast injuries
  • Loss of sight, hearing
  • Suffocation, asphyxiation
  • Asbestosis and emphysema
  • Methane, carbon dioxide poisoning
  • Pneumoconiosis, chronic bronchitis
Coal Mining Accident Causes

A number of dangers specific to the mining industry injure workers, including:

  • Poisonous gases
  • Lack of ventilation
  • Black damp, corrosion
  • Premature blast, misfire
  • Mine-induced seismicity
  • Haulage, hoisting failure
  • Impoundment, inundation
  • Explosives, breaking agents
  • Falling, sliding rock or prop
  • Internal pressure explosions
Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) Regulations

The federal Mine Safety and Health Act requires that the MSHA inspect mines and issue fines for violations. All accidents, including, unintentional roof falls, must be investigated by the operator for cause and prevention. Regulations require maintenance of accurate records of employee exposure to toxic materials or harmful physical agents as well as number of hours worked. Mandatory standards for underground coal mines provide increased protection in connection with hazards from trolley wires, trailing cables, electric conductors, roof control, gas drainage, use of power equipment, combustible materials, and rock dusting.

Workers’ Compensation and Black Lung Benefits

Workers’ compensation provides cash payments to miners injured on the job. Workers must provide proof of partial, total, temporary, or permanent disability to quality. Successful claimants will receive a portion of their weekly wage for the duration of their temporary injury, or lifetime benefits in cases of permanent disability. Workers are entitled to compensation for medical care, hospitalization, and other costs. Spouses and dependents likewise receive benefits arising from the death of a loved one. Coal miners who suffer disability or death due to black lung can also file claims under the same standards used to determine workers’ compensation eligibility. The cash benefits must be substantially equal to or greater than the amount required under state law.

Consult Wolfe Law Firm to Obtain Compensation for Your Injuries

If you have been injured in a coal mining accident, the experienced West Virginia personal injury lawyers at Wolfe Law Firm can help. While hiring an attorney is never required, it can vastly improve your chances of obtaining relief. We work closely with victims to present persuasive evidence and prevent costly errors that can lead to denial of benefits. Wolfe Law Firm has prevailed in numerous Mandolidis claims where the “deliberate intent” of employers exposed workers to known dangers, allowing victims to recover damages beyond workers’ compensation benefits. Our firm is always sensitive to the needs of families that lose loved ones in mining accidents and is dedicated to helping them recover compensation for their loss. Wolfe Law Firm is proud to represent injured workers and families across West Virginia. Call (877) 637-5756 for a free consultation or contact us online.