As all coal miners know, coal mining is dangerous, and involves working in confined spaces among hazardous conditions. As a result, serious and even catastrophic injuries are not uncommon, and, tragically, even death can result. Sadly, in many situations, injury and death could have been prevented by an employer taking the proper safety precautions.
As a Virginia workers’ compensation lawyer for coal miners and their families, attorney Mark Hurt and our firm are proud to represent injured coal miners, and to tenaciously advocate for families who have lost loved ones in fatal coal mine accidents. If you were injured in a coal mining accident, we invite you to call to schedule a free consultation so that you can learn about the compensation and medical treatment that you are entitled to under Virginia law.
How Much Does a Virginia Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Charge?
Our fee is regulated under Virginia workers’ compensation statutes. There is no fee due up-front, as we only receive a fee if compensation is recovered.
Generally, our fee for workers’ compensation matters is limited to 20% of the “back wage benefits”, and there are certain caps that also apply. We are not entitled to any portion of future wages that are not yet due. When we meet with you, we can explain how fees are calculated.
What Types of Coal Mining Accident Cases Do You Handle?
Most coal mining injuries are severe, and often involve orthopedic, traumatic brain, or spinal cord injuries, as well as amputations. In the most serious of cases, accidents can result in fatalities. At The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we handle all types of coal mining injuries, including claims involving:
- Defective or Malfunctioning Work Equipment
- Elevator and Coal Stockpile Collapses
- Inadequate Lighting
- Lack of Adequate Safety Equipment
- Poor Air Quality
- Toxic Chemical and Substance Exposure
- Roof Collapse
- Longwall Shield Collapse
- Electrical Injuries and Death
- Pneumoconiosis (Black Lung Disease)
- Other Occupational Diseases
- Wrongful Death
We understand the incredible and long-lasting impacts that mining disasters can have on employees and their loved ones. Many families and injured miners are still dealing with ramifications caused by the Upper Branch, Sago Mine, and Aracoma Alma Mine disasters, along with others. If you or a loved one was involved in a mine accident, Attorney Mark Hurt can work tirelessly in seeking to ensure that your rights are upheld, and for the compensation you and your family rightfully deserve, as well as the full medical treatment to which you are entitled.
How Do I File for Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Virginia has strict notice requirements for workers’ compensation claims. Coal miners must give written notice to their employers within sixty days, or potentially compromise the chances of securing workers’ compensation benefits.
Normally, the first step after an injury has occurred is to notify the human resources department of the injury, and to request the appropriate documentation that needs to be completed about the nature of the accident or injury. An injured coal miner should complete this information as soon as possible (taking into account the nature of the injury and the severity of the harm). If a worker is unable to complete the form because of the severity of the injury, we can complete the form on behalf of the injured worker, or otherwise can ensure that the company is properly notified of the injury.
Can I Be Fired for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
No – it is illegal to fire a worker for filing a workers’ compensation claim. If a company fires a worker or otherwise engages in any form of retaliatory action, a worker will have a separate cause of action against the company for a wrongful work practice. We also are available to represent workers in these cases.
Filing Claims for Black Lung Disease
Despite being known about for decades, coal miners continue to get black lung disease. A recent 2018 article by The Guardian highlights the continuing dangers of the disease, and notes that even after Congress passed the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act in 1969, approximately 76,000 coal miners died from black lung disease between 1968 and 2014.
For miners suffering from black lung disease, there are strict time limits (known as statutes of limitations) for filing a claim. Under Virginia law, coal miners must file a claim within three years after diagnosis of the disease or five years from the date of the last injurious exposure, whichever first occurs.
Because workers’ compensation and black lung claims are time-sensitive, it is crucial to start the process as quickly as possible. If you were injured in a mining accident but are unsure how to proceed, call our office to schedule a free case evaluation. Our experienced workers’ compensation team can evaluate your case, explain your legal options, and help you timely file all appropriate paperwork (if a valid claim exists).
Can I Sue My Employer for My Coal Mining Injury?
Employers are generally immune from civil lawsuits involving injured employees. As a result, in most cases, the only cause of action against an employer for a work-related injury is through the workers’ compensation process.
However, in cases of extreme recklessness, a cause of action may be possible against an employer, such as if a company deliberately disregards safety standards and regulations, so that workers are placed at unreasonable risk of harm. If this is the case, then an employee may be able to file in Virginia what is known as a “deliberate intent” claim.
Can I File a Lawsuit Against a Third Party for Injury?
In some cases, coal mining injury and death may be caused in whole or part by a third party. A third party can include a landowner, a negligent contractor, the manufacturer of defective equipment, or someone else other than the employer.
When we are retained for a worker’s compensation case, one of our responsibilities is to determine whether other parties may bear legal liability. If we find that a company or person other than the employer or another employee is likely at fault, we can file a lawsuit against such other person or company. It’s important for injured workers to know that the damages in these lawsuits is not limited by the workers’ compensation statutes.
Getting Full Medical Treatment
In addition to receiving compensation, injured coal miners are also eligible to receive medical treatment under the workers’ compensation statutes. Often disagreements arise concerning the medical treatment required under these statutes, as the workers’ compensation insurance companies often try to discontinue treatment prematurely to save costs.
When medical treatment issues arise, we are tenacious in fighting for the full medical treatment required. We know what is at stake, and we demand that insurance companies pay for the treatment that is rightfully owed.
Our Experience and Representation
At The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we have a successful track record in helping injured workers and have an in-depth understanding of the complexities of the laws and regulations governing coal mining accidents and deliberate intent claims.
Firm founding attorney Mark Hurt has represented clients at all levels of the Virginia state and federal court system over the course of more than thirty years of practicing law. He also is one of less than 1% of all attorneys who have represented clients before The Supreme Court of the United States.
Regardless of whether your claim may involve Falcon Coal, Massey Energy, Patriot Coal, CONSOL Energy, Marion County Coal Company, Harrison County Coal Company, or another mining company, Mark will work tirelessly in seeking full and fair compensation and medical treatment for you if our firm is retained.
Contact Our Firm Today for a Free Consultation
Calling our firm and scheduling a free consultation costs nothing. Get the answers to your questions or concerns – contact our office at 276-623-0808 (day or night) to schedule a consultation. As we represent injured workers in a workers’ compensation cases on a contingency-fee basis, there is no fee for our services unless compensation is obtained.
 There is a different calculation if no back wages are yet due.
 VA. Code § 65.2-406(a)(1).
I started receiving services through this law firm in 2017 for my workers compensation case. Over the years, this firm has been attentive, kind, patient and understanding to my needs. My calls were returned promptly, if the associate was unavailable at that time and I have had ample opportunity to speak with Mr Hurt directly concerning my case. With Mary Wilson, Bart Conway, Mr Hurt and others behind the scene, my case has progressed smoothly. I am very pleased with the services and attention I received at this firm and would recommend Mr Hurt, Mary and Bart for your needs.