Mining is one of West Virginia’s biggest industries and employs the most people. But mining is also one of the most dangerous occupations, with dangers on a daily basis.
A mining accident can injure anywhere from one to a hundred or more workers. Many of these accidents are preventable. Health and safety regulators work to keep employees safe on the job and enforce accountability. Ultimately, it’s up to each and every employee and mining company to prioritize and practice safety.
If You Are Involved In An Accident At Work
Your first priority is to get medical attention, then notify your employer. Chances are that if there is a serious accident, someone will call an ambulance and your employer will know. When you are able, you will still have to notify the company yourself so that you can file for Worker’s Compensation.
Worker’s comp will pay for your medical care, and provide financial compensation equal to two-thirds of your salary. This is paid when your employer is found to be responsible for the accident. It’s reasonable to expect that you’ll be out of work for a while, and possibly for an extended period.
But what if your employer wasn’t the reason the accident happened? What if a third party was the reason for your accident, such as:
- Subcontractors and other outside companies
- Manufacturers of defective tools and equipment
- Manufacturers of defective safety equipment
- Other third parties
In these cases, workers comp may or may not be available. At this point, a personal injury (or wrongful death) lawsuit may be your only option for recovering compensation.
Compensation After The Mining Accident
An accident in a mine brings a considerable amount of bills, primarily from medical expenses. But when you’re unable to work, you may have trouble paying your monthly bills. Worker’s compensation will help, but may not be enough.
There may be multiple parties involved in a mining accident. An attorney can find out which party or parties can be held responsible for compensation. You may be able to collect:
- Medical expenses, including future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of occupation (if you are disabled and unable to return to work)
- Permanent disability and disfigurement
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- Wrongful death (for survivors)
Without an attorney, you’ll be unable to investigate your case and collect the needed compensation you deserve after an accident.
What About A Settlement From My Company?
The short answer is: no. How much money will you need to continue medical treatment? Can you take care of your family, especially if you can’t return to work right away? What will you do if you can never return to work?
Accepting a settlement from your company or their insurer means you will receive a small sum of money that will not cover everything. The amount may seem big, but it’s likely nothing compared to what you’ll need in the future, especially if you’re disabled.
The company does not have your best interest at heart, despite what they may say. When you accept their settlement—which will be as little as they believe you will accept—you will sign away your rights to any further compensation. Chances are you won’t have enough for your medical expenses.
Mining companies and operators have powerful defense attorneys on their side working to minimize a company’s exposure and to pay the smallest amount of settlements to injured employees. They know you do not have legal experience or know your rights. They may even tell you things like you can’t hire your own attorney. The idea is to persuade you to accept their settlement, because they want you to believe can’t or won’t get anything better. Unless you speak to your own attorney, you won’t know that this isn’t the case.
Even if you are not planning to file a lawsuit, you should at least consult with a mining accident attorney who can advise you on the best way to proceed. You may be surprised to discover that you have more options than you thought.
The Love Law Firm
If a mining company failed to be proactive in light of an accident, or correct a potentially dangerous area, you may be able to collect damages from a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. As an injured miner, you may also be able to collect compensation from a third party’s negligence that led to your accident. We represent both injured miners and the families of deceased miners to help them get the compensation they deserve.
The Love Law Firm in Charleston, West Virginia’s personal injury law firm with more than 20 years of extensive experience handling mining accident cases. Call us today at 304-344-5683 (or use our online contact form) and schedule your free consultation. There’s no charge for the first visit, and our contingency fee arrangement means you won’t pay unless we win your case and recover money for you.