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 law, investigators themselves may have some liability. This comes as a result of the West Virginia Supreme Court responding to a request from a federal court to issue a ruling regarding this matter. Their response stated that if inspectors fail to do their jobs and leave miners at risk, under specific circumstances the federal government could be held liable for deaths of miners.
Secondly, it’s important for the family to know who caused the death of a loved one. It could be the fault of a negligent mining company in how they conducted safety audits, or it could be in the maintenance of their machinery. Fault might also be found in a sub-contractor who rebuilt a machine using lousy parts, since a lot of work is sub-contracted out to repair shops. Sometimes you need to look beyond the obvious, and as I stated above, federal and state inspectors need to be examined to determine if they had knowledge of a dangerous condition that could result in injury or death. At the Segal Law Firm, we will take a careful look at all possible factors, so that we can give a family the answers they deserve.
Understanding the West Virginia Wrongful Death Act
In West Virginia, a specific statute was established for the families of those who are killed as a result of a mining tragedy. This statute includes the wife, children (both natural, adopted and step-children), and anyone else who was dependent upon the coal miner. We have seen cases where a special needs child was a dependent, and even if they are over 18 years old, they remained a dependent. Families need to understand this Act thoroughly and how it pertains to a miner’s lost wages, medical benefits, since they will no longer have insurance, and how much money he would make for the rest of his life. The age of the miner will greatly impact the amount of settlement and the older a miner is, the more reduced a settlement might actually be.
Additional entitlements may include loss of society, companionship, love, affection for the children, and guidance they would receive from their father. I myself have a teenage son and know firsthand that a father figure is critically important in a home. Consideration should be given to the widow who will find herself faced with the prospect of sitting in a church pew alone, taking the children on vacation alone and watching a daughter get married without her father to walk her down the aisle; all these factors are what we at the
Segal Law Firm want a jury to consider. We want them to understand just how crippling the loss of a family member can be.
This is all part of what we explain to families who have suffered a coal mining death and we strive to assure them we will do our best to get the protection and money that they desperately need to survive a tragedy such as this. We will find out what went wrong to cause the death, why it occurred and what damages and losses they are permitted to rightfully recover under West Virginia laws.
If you have questions regarding your rights as a family member in a coal mining death, click on the Contact Us tab towards the top of the page or you can call 855-344-9100.