Coal Mine Injury Articles

Rights of a Family Member in a Coal Mining Death

When you or your family have suffered the death of a family member due to a coal mining accident, there are two very important questions that your lawyer should obtain answers for on your behalf. First, and foremost, you deserve to know what exactly caused the death of your husband or your son or your family member. Fortunately, in West Virginia both federal and state investigators have a duty to the family to answer this question and help you understand why this tragedy occurred. The Segal Law Firm has found through its years of experience that both federal and state investigators are very, very good at trying to find an answer to this question for you and your family. However, sometimes this question requires a little patience before it can be accurately answered. There may be dozens and dozens of witnesses to interview; machinery and equipment maintenance records need to be examined as well as mine maps and detailed engineering drawings. However, my experience in these cases has shown that federal and state investigators are every bit as concerned as you and your family to uncover the truth. You and your family should be aware that under recent West Virginia …

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Common Problems Encountered with Coal Mining Safety in West Virginia

In the coal mining industry, safety hazards are prevalent and unfortunately, the number one problem encountered is when employers and contractors make the mistake of putting production ahead of safety. When their mindset dictates that the mining of coal must be performed in a manner where they can get as much as they can on every single shift, that’s when their regard for safety of all employees takes a backseat and this disregard for safety precautions can arise in both surface and deep coal mines. Out-by work is critically important in deep mines as it is a lifeline for each and every miner. This includes rock dusting, adequate ventilation and proper equipment maintenance. We here at the Segal Law Firm have seen far too many instances where equipment has undergone improper maintenance or has been rebuilt in such a way that it no longer complies with manufacturer’s standards. Safety devices may be altered, jack leg parts may be used and in some cases, safety devices are simply welded off completely. We have seen cases where roof bolters literally hang and kill their operators or where blast shields crushed the heads of maintenance people. We have also seen roofs fall as …

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Coal Mining Regulations- Crucial to Winning Your Case

We’ve all seen tragic mine stories on the news. What you don’t get to see is what happens to the widows and children of these lost miners after cameras turn off.  My job at The Segal Law Firm is to provide protection for the miners’ families and I do that by delving into the state and federal regulations that set the safety guidelines for the coal mines. Often times, these regulations have been broken in some way or another and you need an attorney that understands the rules, so they know where to start looking for answers. What Type of Mine? The first thing I’m going to do when I find out a coal miner has been killed in an accident is determine if it happened in a deep mine or a surface mine. The answer to that question is going to affect which state and federal laws were in place to protect them while they were at work. You have to know where it happened so you can begin to look at the very complex set of regulations that are in place to protect the miners. Training and Licensing Let’s say it was a deep mine. Well, deep miners …

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My Loved One Was Killed in a Coal Mining Accident: What Now?

Some of the most difficult cases I’ve come across involve the wrongful deaths of coal miners. Unfortunately, they are not uncommon and my experience with them has become extensive. It’s important that the families of these deceased miners understand that they have rights under West Virginia law. These laws protect them and make sure that an experienced lawyer can help them get the damages they deserve. The first thing you need to do if your dad or husband has been killed in a coal mining accident is find out who the executor or executrix is, based on the will of your loved one. If no one has been appointed, then you can go to the courthouse and someone will be appointed. It’s then that person’s responsibility to seek out a law firm that understands coal mining regulations and protections and who can figure out why the wrongful death occurred. You’ve got to have an answer to that question. The first thing we are going to do at The Segal Law Firm is start investigating to find out what shortcuts the coal company has taken, as this is most likely what has occurred. The company probably decided to ignore a safety …

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Settlement Amounts for Coal Mining Injuries in West Virginia

If you or a family member have suffered a coal mining injury or death, there are several factors that must be determined in coal mining injury cases and settlements amounts vary, as each coal mining case should be evaluated on an individual basis. A coal miner and his family deserve a complex interview with detailed questions and the Segal Law Firm has years of experience in handling these types of injury cases. Some factors that should be determined are: “Will you ever be able to return to work?” It is an unfortunate fact that many coal mining injuries can end the career of a miner and this means he and his family will no longer have wages, health benefits and retirement benefits that are included in a normal employment contract. “What is the age of the worker?” A miner who is in the 25 to 30 years old range could suffer a loss amounting to millions of dollars; however, because medical and retirement benefits would be substantially less for someone who is 55 years or older, the settlement amount might be considerably lower. “What medical and rehabilitation expenses were incurred as a result of an injury?” This could include home …

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Why Do Coal Mine Injuries Keep Happening?

Coal mining is far from being a new industry and yet we are still seeing injuries over and over again on the job site. Why is that? Well, it’s pretty simple: companies are putting the almighty dollar ahead of their workers’ safety and aren’t following the rules and regulations that have been in place by the government. For the past hundred years, inspectors have been looking at injuries and deaths due to coal mining accidents and figuring out how to prevent them from happening to workers in the future. Unfortunately, the coal companies are still taking shortcuts, which inevitably result in the injury or death of a miner.   Training There are very specific rules and regulations, both state and federal, about how someone is to be trained before they’re even allowed to work in a mine. I don’t care if we’re talking about a surface mine or a deep mine: You can’t be there until you have certain training. You’d be surprised how many cases we’ve investigated where the person or contractor on the job doesn’t have the license or permit to be there. You’ve also got the operating of equipment. Are the people working this dangerous equipment trained …

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Coal Mining Accidents- What’s the Average Settlement?

If you or a family member has been injured in a coal mining accident, one of the first things you’re going to ask is how much is the average settlement for a case like mine? You’ve obviously suffered some damages and are eager to get the recovery you deserve. The thing is, there are as many different types of settlements as there are types of coal mining injuries. We at The Segal Law Firm have seen every type of injury you can imagine and we have to approach each case individually to try to get the most we can for our clients. The amount of a settlement is based on several different factors. Who is the target of the lawsuit? If it’s your employer, then there’s a more difficult legal standard. We have to prove that certain safety rules, whether federal, state, or industry practice, were violated. We’ve seen many cases where the coal company is putting profit ahead of safety and when this is happens, injuries are bound to occur. And if the jury believes that the employer did in fact put profit over safety or that the contractor came onsite badly prepared to do the job he was …

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What Should I Look for in a West Virginia Coal Mine Accident Lawyer?

If you have suffered an injury in either an underground coal mine or a surface coal mine, it is important that you and your family seek a lawyer who is experienced in these types of cases. The lawyer should have a thorough understanding of both federal and state regulations and the differences in how they affect deep mining, underground mining and surface mining. They should also know the rules such as those that affect the machines used in a surface mine and how well the people are trained who are responsible for your injury. At Segal Law Firm, we ask these questions every day. A coal mining company might tell the government they have a mining plan and a roof bolting plan, but in reality they’re not following that plan. They might also state they maintain their equipment, but when a lawyer looks in the right places, it becomes apparent that equipment was not being maintained pursuant to the manufacturer’s specifications, which resulted in someone getting injured. We have had cases where injuries resulted from a co-worker who shouldn’t have been in the mine in the first place because they didn’t have the right training. All these reasons are why …

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Everyday Accident Prevention – Slow Down and Use Common Sense

In your everyday life it’s important to use precautions that are available and are there to help protect you. Take your seatbelt, for example. Nobody should be driving, even to the store, without being sure that their seatbelt and those of their children are being properly used. Kids should not be allowed to put the shoulder harness behind their back. They need to keep their seatback straight up, as should you as an adult. Obviously, staying off your cell phone, not texting and doing other things that will distract you is also important. I don’t know how many times I’ve had clients come in where the person who hit them was adjusting the radio. Or doing something inside the car that diverted their attention from the road. The Speed limit is the limit. That is the most you should drive. But there are a thousand reasons to drive slower. Exercise common sense and slow down rather than drive the speed limit when there’s too much traffic, it’s raining, it’s foggy, it’s snowing or there are kids in the area. The law in West Virginia says adults must anticipate that children will act childishly. So if you see kids in the …

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Methane Gas and Coal Mining

The most serious danger to a coal miner underground is methane gas – the natural by-product of mining coal. There are very specific safety measures that the Federal and State government require to protect miners. And you’ll find that disaster after disaster after disaster, certain things were not done that should have been done to protect the coal miner. First, improper ventilation – All ventilation in an underground coal mine must be approved by Federal and State inspectors. Proper ventilation keeps the air moving away from the coal miners and takes any methane or noxious gases away from the miners’ face. It’s typically referred to as “out by” work. Skilled workers that know how to keep the air moving in the right direction must perform it. Second is rock dusting – When there is an explosion in a coal mine, very fine particles of coal dust fly into the air and make more tiny explosion. You get a chain reaction. The explosion gets bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger and it goes throughout the entire mine because it’s just feeding itself. Rock dusting is when limestone is sprayed all over the mine to keep the dust down. Sprayers and …

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