The coal mining industry in West Virginia has been going strong for well over 200 years. In that time, numerous mine workers have suffered injuries or lost their lives in coal mine accidents. The victims of these events or — in the event of fatality — their surviving family members may be entitled to seek compensation for their losses.
What type of accidents are common in coal mines? Mining, in general, is one of the riskiest jobs in the world. A lot can go wrong underground. The most common mining accident seen is cave-ins. Cave-ins are often caused by ground shifting, unsecured shaft ceilings and walls and cracks in the structure due to excessive excavation.
Another common accident seen in coal mining is gas explosions. Methane gas often builds up during the mining process, particularly if ventilation is poor. If mining equipment sparks, which can happen as a result of poor maintenance, an explosion can occur.
Finally, the last accident type that will be discussed is electrocution. Coal miners use a number of industrial machines to do their job. If these machines are not taken care of and cables and plugs become worn, it can easily lead to a worker being electrocuted which can then lead to a fire or explosion.
There are also a number of health risks associated with coal mining. Between the noise level of the mine, fumes, toxic organic materials, dust and the heavy loads these workers are often dealing with, they are at risk for developing a number of illnesses on top of suffering physical injury. With proper safety equipment and protocols in place, many illnesses, injuries and deaths can be prevented.
Those who have been injured or lost loved ones in coal mine accidents in West Virginia may feel that there is little they can do to seek compensation for their losses; that these things just happen in this industry. Workers’ compensation is available to coal mine workers injured in an on-the-job accident, and there are some instances where civil claims ,may be brought against the employer, particularly if that employer chose production over employee safety. Those who think they have a case for compensation can turn to an experienced attorney for guidance on the matter.