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Conflicting reports prompt another look at 2012 fatal accident

Last spring, a 57-year-old man was killed on the job at Alpha Natural Resources in Liberty. The man fell from a ladder while trying to remove a beam from the third floor of the plant. After the fatal accident, both state and federal authorities investigated. It resulted in several citations for a subsidiary of Alpha called Independence Coal co. The case was eventually closed.

Now, however, apparent conflicting reports have caused investigators to call for it to be reopened. According to the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, the ladder that the man who died fell from was being steadied by another worker because the base of the ladder was missing. The state's report, however, never mentioned the other worker. West Virginia's mine safety director said the state did not know until the federal report was released that another worker was involved.

What another investigation could mean for the case is not entirely clear at this time. However, if this man's family was considering a wrongful death lawsuit, it would be imperative that they have accurate and detailed information about exactly what happened to cause the accident.

After the initial investigation, Independence Coal was cited for failing to require the worker to wear safety gear that would support him if he fell, improper use of the ladder, and not providing a safe way for the worker to remove the beam. All of these citations could factor into a wrongful death suit by showing how the employer's negligence contributed the worker's death. An experienced wrongful death attorney can help a family build a strong case.

Source: Logan Banner, "W.Va. to reopen probe of 2012 prep plant facility," Feb. 27, 2013

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