Due to the inherent dangers of mining, fatal accidents have always been a common issue in the industry.Despite modern advances in technology and safety standards, West Virginia leads the United States in the number of fatal workplace accidents involving miners. From 2004 to early 2015, the state has seen 120 miners die on the job. In 2010, the state saw the country's worst mining disaster in40 years.
This particular accident was an explosion that occurred inside the Upper Big Branch mine and claimed the lives of 29 workers. It was caused by a build up of methane gas inside the mine, and rescue crews were unable to get inside for five days. The CEO of the mining company was eventually charged with violating safety standards.
The Upper Big Branch tragedy is a prime example of the importance of training, good equipment and adherence to safety standards. When employers demonstrate gross negligence and workers are injured, it may be appropriate to consider legal action. Family members of deceased miners could be eligible for certain types of compensation, but may find it difficult to get the deserved amount of restitution.
The high number of fatal workplace accidents in West Virginia mines serves as a reminder of the dangers of mining. Workers have the right to a safe work environment, no matter what their job may be. When family members feel that their loved one was killed because of a blatant disregard for safety or negligence of any kind, it can be useful to seek the opinion of a knowledgeable attorney regarding the possibility of a civil claim.
Source: wvpublic.org, "Map: West Virginia Leads Nation in Coal Mining Deaths Since 2004", Dave Mistich and Ashton Marra, April 6, 2015