We got the chance to sit down and talk about injuries and coal mines and what you need to know about them. Take a moment and listen to our video below and hear what Pat had to say in an interview on the topic.
So this one is on coal mining accidents. So if you could just tell us what some of the most common coal mining accidents are. Okay, coal mining accidents are – there’s a wide variety of them, but there do seem to be a lot of injuries related to roof falls or sides – what they call the ribs- falling in and injuring the workers in that area. So, that’s one of the areas. Of course, the saddest area is when there is an explosion, but generally speaking, it is doing some hard work. Just, I have a case right now where I’m helping a man whose arm got stuck in a conveyor belt at a coal mine and had significant injuries. It’s just so many things. There’s a lot of machines in the coal mine and, there’s a lot of heavy stuff down there. And, it’s just something can snap and you can get severely injured quickly in the coal fields. Absolutely. So when should I file for a lawsuit if I was injured in a coal mine? So, under what conditions? Well, if you get injured in a coal mine, you should immediately contact me because I can give you advice on your workers compensation claim and also give you advice concerning a potential personal injury claim. If your engine was the fault of some other person underneath or in the coal fields, it might be underground miner might be strip mine. There could be a claim against an independent contractor because a lot of the coal companies now are using independent contractors to help with people down there. So if they’re responsible, you have not only your workers comp claim, but you would have a negligence claim against the negligent person who injured you. And I can give advice on that and there’s also potential on very serious injuries if your employer has violated MSHA rules that you can sue the employer in addition to getting your workers comp. But generally speaking, if you are injured at work and you file a workers comp claim, the employer has immunity from lawsuits you can’t sue them, but there are exceptions to that rule and I’m an expert on those exceptions. So who would you sue if you can’t sue the employer? Well you can’t sue anybody unless somebody else maybe was negligent. If there was an independent contractor down there that was doing something negligent running some piece of equipment that hit you or did something. But if everybody on the work site has the same employer, it’s your employer, and you get injured, generally speaking, you can’t sue the employer. You just get Workers Comp and that’s it. So what can I expect if I am the surviving family member of a coal miner who’s passed away due to an injury? Well, there is the West Virginia Workers Compensation Statute provides for a fatality benefits to dependents and that includes a wife and children. Okay. So if coal miner dies on the job you just fill out this form and send it in, and the wife can get lifetime benefits until she remarries, and if she doesn’t remarry for a lifetime. And, the children get benefits until they turn 18, graduate high school, or if they’re still in school they can continue in college as long as they’re making substantial progress. Will I lose my job if I file a lawsuit? You mean against your employer? Yes. If you’re injured on the job and you file and it’s your employers fault and your injury qualifies to go above the immunity from suing the employer and you sue your employer your employer by Statute cannot fire you for suing them. That doesn’t mean they won’t, but you have more protections if they do. And, also, once you file workers comp claim, the West Virginia Statute provides that once you have completed your treatment and are eligible to return to work, the employers has to put you back to work. If they don’t, that is a classical that’s how I got started in employment law is representing injured workers whose employers wouldn’t put them back to work once they met recovery. What fees will I have to pay if I file a lawsuit? The fees are all contingency, and like for instance, workers compensation claims, the fees are regulated by Statute at 20% of any permanent partial disability or any temporary total disability benefits. There’s no percentage off any of the medical bills paid. For instance on Social Security Disability, the fee is 25% of back pay only, and the fee for representing people in personal injury, car wreck cases, different cases, ranges from 33 1/3 to 40% and this depending on the type of case it is and the difficulties and how much money we would have to invest hiring experts.