As the people of West Virginia well know, mining is one of the toughest and most dangerous jobs in the country. Coal mining accidents in the state have taken down many souls who should have had many more years of knowing the joys of life. When such events happen in the state, there is a coming together of mining families and others to help one another, for each knows that they too may someday mourn the loss or serious injury of a loved one.
The basic monetary support to an injured miner or to the family of a deceased miner is provided through the same system that applies to all workers injured or killed on the job. The workers' compensation insurance system pays for medical expenses, basic losses and partial lost wages. However, in serious cases the benefits provided often prove to be inadequate to compensate all of the losses incurred.
Personal injury lawyers have learned to get aggressive and creative to effectively serve miners and their families in such predicaments. To collect over and above the minimum amounts available through workers' compensation, state and federal laws must be fully used in the best interest of the client. It may be possible to collect for pain and suffering, and for excesses in lost wages and loss of earning capacity that exceed the amounts collectible for workers' compensation.
However, employers are generally immune from personal injury claims made by employees covered under workers' comp, both in West Virginia and nationwide. The employee or his/her family may have to sue a landowner for negligence or the manufacturer of defective equipment, machinery or toxic chemicals that may have contributed to the coal mining accidents. In addition, the employer's violation of known safety standards may provide a miner or his/her family a claim for personal injury tort damages directly against the employer, depending on the applicable facts.
Source: wvmetronews.com, "Victim's father reacts to sentence of Morgantown drunk driver: 'I try not to see him'", Carrie Hodousek, March 2, 2017