Hillsville, VA Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for Coal Miners
Hillsville Workers Compensation Lawyer & VA Coal Mine Injury Attorney
Working long hours underground can be dangerous, as mineshafts, cramped with heavy machinery and covered in darkness, can present substantial dangers to coal miners. Unfortunately, coal mining is one of the most hazardous professions in our country, as it presents a myriad of extreme dangers, from explosions and toxic chemical exposure to Black Lung Disease and even death.
Regardless of how you or a loved one were injured, experienced Hillsville workers’ compensation lawyer and coal mining injury attorney Mark Hurt stands ready to pursue the maximum benefits and compensation available to you and your family. If you suffered an injury or lost a loved one in a coal mining accident, we urge you to call our office today to schedule a free consultation to learn about your legal options.
Do I Need an Attorney to Apply for Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Virginia?
While it is possible to apply for workers’ comp benefits without the assistance of an attorney, it is usually not advisable, particularly when injuries are significant.
Virginia workers’ compensation insurance is a no-fault system, meaning it was designed to provide coverage for medical care, lost wages, and other expenses, regardless of who caused an accident. However, many coal mining businesses (and their insurance companies) are skilled at attempting to avoid liability. For example, employers often make injured workers traverse numerous hurdles, hoping to dissuade them from pursuing the full benefits to which they are rightfully entitled.
While Virginia law provides a statutory framework as to how benefits should be paid and the treatment provided to injured coal workers, there are often many gray areas in terms of how the prescribed benefits apply to a specific case. It is in these gray areas that employers and insurance companies will act in their best interest, along with the physicians that they employ, to minimize their costs. Frequently this is done through:
- minimizing injury severity,
- denying certain treatments on the basis that it is not medically necessary, and
- cutting off ongoing medically necessary treatment early on the basis that further medical improvement is not likely.
Firm-founding attorney and Duke Law School graduate Mark Hurt has over two decades of legal experience tenaciously seeking benefits and maximum compensation for injured miners and wrongful death victims. He understands the common tactics utilized by mining companies (and their insurers) which allows him to proactively head off such strategies to provide the best chances of securing benefits and other compensation.
How Much Does an Experienced Hillsville Coal Mining Injury Lawyer Cost?
At The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we represent injured miners on a contingency-fee basis. This means we are only entitled to a fee if we secure workers’ compensation benefits or recover damages through a settlement or jury award. In Virginia, workers’ compensation legal fees must be approved by the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission; typically they are equal to 20% – 25% of the compensation obtained.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Coal Mining Accident in Virginia?
A fundamental principle of Virginia workers’ compensation law is that an employer who provides compensation to an injured miner is typically entitled to immunity from civil actions by that employee. Consequently, it can be difficult to pursue compensation from an employer through a lawsuit, although not impossible. For example, if an employer is aware of a significant safety hazard and fails to take adequate precautions to protect employees and a miner is injured, it may be possible to pursue compensation through a “deliberate intent” claim.
Depending on the facts of a case, non-employer parties may also be liable, including (but not limited to):
- Other contractors or companies that are on-site
- Heavy machinery manufacturers
- Equipment manufacturers
When you hire our firm, we will investigate your case and help identify all potentially liable parties, helping increase the chances of securing maximum compensation for you and your family’s losses.
It is important to know that companies other than a worker’s employer may be liable for pain and suffering and other types of damages that are not recoverable under workers’ compensation statutes. As a result, in seeking full compensation, it is critical to identify such other liable companies, and to initiate a claim against them for their role in injury causation and damages.
What Types of Safety Precautions Must Coal Mining Companies Take?
The Federal Mine Safety and Health Act mandates certain safety precautions to ensure the well-being of miners. Some of these provisions include:
- Underground mines must be inspected four times annually
- Above-ground mines are to receive at least two inspections annually
- Exceptionally dangerous mines or those that release large quantities of methane gas must be inspected more frequently
- Mines must have a written emergency response plan
- Mines must have rescue teams on-call (within one hour)
These are only a few of the comprehensive statutes that govern coal mining and mine inspections. Safety issues are critical; thus, the failure to uphold such standards and requirements could constitute negligence.
If you or a loved one was injured in a mining accident caused by someone else’s negligence or intentional disregard of safety procedures, we encourage you to call our office to schedule a free consultation. Firm-founding attorney Mark Hurt can listen to the facts of your case and explain whether you may be entitled to pursue legal action.
What is Black Lung Disease?
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, coal worker pneumoconiosis (“Black Lung Disease”) is an occupational lung disease caused by breathing in certain dust particles that cause inflammation of the lungs, eventually leading to scar tissue. In an everyday setting, most individuals are not exposed to enough dust to cause Black Lung Disease; however, approximately 20% of American coal miners may eventually develop the condition from long-term inhalation of coal dust.
Under the Federal Black Lung Program, coal miners who are totally disabled by Black Lung Disease arising out of employment, and survivors of coal miners whose deaths are attributable to the disease, are entitled to compensation. Injured workers are also eligible for medical treatment.
At The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we are available to represent injured miners and the families of wrongful death victims in federal and state claims involving Black Lung Disease. When you hire experienced Hillsville workers’ compensation lawyer Mark Hurt, he can handle your Black Lung claim from start to finish.
Coal Mining Injuries are Serious – Don’t Leave Your Benefits or Compensation Up to Chance.
An individual severely injured in a coal mining accident may suffer severe, life-altering injuries, which can lead to millions of dollars in medical expenses, lost wages, rehabilitation costs, and other non-economic losses over a lifetime. While an injured miner may assume that they will be awarded the benefits they deserved by filing a workers’ comp claim, this is not always the case.
If you were a worker who was injured in a coal mining accident or the family of an individual who died as a result of mining injuries, we urge you to call our office to schedule a complimentary consultation. Hillsville coal mine workers’ compensation attorney Mark Hurt can thoroughly investigate your case, call upon experts when needed, identify all potentially liable parties, and tenaciously fight for the maximum compensation you and your family deserve, whether it be through a workers’ compensation claim, a settlement, and/or a civil lawsuit.