January 20, 2019

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Coal Mining Injury Lawsuits

Coal mining is a major industry in states such as West Virginia and Kentucky. The coal mining industry provides energy to millions of people and employment to thousands more. Coal mining is also one of the world’s most dangerous jobs, with a death rate nearly six times as high as for private industry in general, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If the injury was caused by the misconduct of the mine operator or another party, fair compensation for your losses is available through the legal system.

Morgantown injury lawyer Jeffrey Robinette stated: “Steady and persevering, coal miners are among the hardest working people in the nation. We know Coal Country and its miners. When miners are injured or killed because of the negligence of the coal company, they deserve compensation and we will fight to make sure they and their families get it.”

Personal Injury Lawsuits

There are four elements to a typical personal injury claim – duty, breach, causation and damages. “Duty” in a coal mining accident generally means the duty of the employer to provide safe working conditions. Because the coal mining industry is heavily regulated, it is relatively simple to determine the mine operator’s duty to its employees. To prove “breach”, however, you must show that the mine operator failed to meet its duty in some way (either by acting or failing to act). This can get tricky when the claim is based on a violation of a vaguely-worded regulation. You must also prove that the violation actually caused the accident (which is not always obvious) and that you suffered losses (“damages”) as a result.

Determining the Amount of Damages

Even a successful coal mining injury claim will be virtually useless unless sufficient damages are awarded, and you must prove every dime of your damages that you collect. Damages can be classified into two types – tangible (medical expenses, lost earnings, etc.) and intangible (pain and suffering, etc.). Typically, tangible damages must be proven through objective means (medical testimony, for example) while intangible damages are calculated as a multiple of tangible damages (three times as much, for example).

Factors that must be taken into consideration when calculating the amount of damages you can be awarded for a coal mining accident include the following:

  • The extent of any long-term disability. This is particularly relevant to calculating your lost earnings, if your injury is likely to prevent you from working as a coal miner for a significant length of time.
  • Your age, especially if you are permanently disabled. The younger you were at the time of the accident, the more years of productive work time you will miss because of the accident (and the higher your damages are likely to be).
  • The extent of the medical treatment you are likely to need in the future. You must calculate this accurately from the beginning, since you won’t be able to return to court for more money if you run out later.
  • The extent to which your disability interferes with everyday activities such as exercise, sex or bathing.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits

If the accident was fatal, the victim will not be around to file a lawsuit. Nevertheless, a close relative of the deceased victim or the personal representative (executor) of the victim’s estate may file a wrongful death lawsuit, depending on state law (in West Virginia, for example, the personal representative must file the lawsuit). Compensation can be awarded for:

  • The victim’s medical expenses
  • Lost earnings (how much money the victim is likely to have earned if he had not died in the accident)
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of guidance, advice, companionship and similar intangible benefits provided by the victim
  • Psychological damages to the victim’s relatives due to grief and sorrow

Typically, eligible relatives share the proceeds of any compensation that is awarded, in proportion to their degree of loss. A financially dependent child, for example, might receive more than a financially independent adult offspring would.

If your loved one has been injured or killed in a coal mining accident in West Virginia, your choice of the right personal injury or wrongful death lawyer could turn out to be the most important decision you make in the entire case. Morgantown injury lawyer Jeffrey Robinette represents seriously injured victims and family members of people injured in coal mining accidents.  For more information, please visit his website – http://www.robinettelaw.com/Workplace-Injuries/Coal-Mining-Injuries.shtml.

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