Mining is one of the top industries in the state of West Virginia, and it’s also the industry with the most workplace injuries in the state. It’s a dangerous profession that sees accidents regularly. But unlike workers in retail and other industries, mining leaves workers with some of the most devastating injuries, as well as deaths.
If you are injured while working in a mine, your first option is to file for workers’ compensation. It’s an employer-paid policy covering your medical bills and replacing some of your income until you are able to return to work, if you’re able. But that may be more difficult than it sounds.
The First Step: Workers’ Compensation
This is your first avenue after you’re injured. Workers’ compensation is an insurance policy every company pays into for protecting their workers against injuries on the job. When you file a claim, you’ll receive:
- A percentage of your regular wages
- Medical expenses associated with the injury
- Temporary and/or permanent disability
There is no litigation required, and you’ll be paid fairly quickly, faster than filing a lawsuit.
Among miners who have been injured, it’s well-known that many mining companies work hard to prevent you from filing a worker’s compensation claim. In the interest of a profit margin, companies will place obstacles in your way to delay your application long enough to give up asking for what you’re entitled to have.
That’s right—the company that promised to take care of things is working against you in your time of need. When that happens, you’ll need some help.
The Third Party Lawsuit
It is possible that your own company will provide you with workers’ compensation, but they were not responsible. If another company was responsible for your injuries, such as a safety equipment manufacturer, you may be able to file a lawsuit over and above your workers’ compensation claim.
Since this is a personal injury lawsuit, you’ll need help from an attorney who understands third-party claims and how the product is connected to your work-related injuries.
An accident at work is bad enough. But if a company intentionally exposes you and your coworkers to a hazardous condition that ultimately resulted in injuries, you can also sue under West Virginia’s Deliberate Intent law. This allows you to collect damages over and above what you would receive under workers’ compensation. Recent updates make proving this intent a little more difficult with stringent requirements.
Using a “five-factor test,” as well as showing that the employer have “actual knowledge” the unsafe conditions, are just two of the additional conditions under West Virginia Code Section 23-4-2(d)(2)(B))
A deliberate intent lawsuit is filed after your workers’ compensation claim has been filed. You will also need a certificate of merit from a workplace safety expert detailing that your injuries were a result of the employer’s negligence for safety, and that the conditions were the result of the employer’s violation of safety standards and/or rule, regulation, or statute.
Additionally, a blood alcohol test will be administered within 2 hours of the injury. Should the test reveal a BAC of .05 or greater, or the presence of another unprescribed substance, the accident will be ruled to be a result of the employee’s intoxication.
Proving deliberate intent has become more difficult, and requires a higher standard of proof after recent updates to the law. That’s why it’s important to get help from an attorney who understands the complexities of West Virginia’s personal injury laws.
Mining Accident Workers’ Compensation Attorney For Charleston, WV
With all the factors involved in an injury you suffered while working in a mine, it’s vital that you contact an attorney who is familiar with workers’ compensation as well as mining companies and mining accidents. More than 13,000 people work in mines in West Virginia, and many have been injured by onsite negligence. Don’t let your company stop you from filing for workers’ compensation, or if necessary, a lawsuit.
The Love Law Firm is Charleston, West Virginia’s personal injury law firm with more than 20 years of extensive experience handling all types of mining accident claims. Call us today at 304-344-5683 (or use our online contact form) and schedule a free consultation. Our contingency fee arrangement means you won’t pay unless we win your case and recover money.