Charleston, WV- Many occupations carry a high risk of accidental injury or death. Coal mining is essential to West Virginia’s economy, and it also carries a high level of risk for miners, causing dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries each year.
When you have been injured in the workplace, you should speak to a West Virginia accident attorney, there are cases in which victims of workplace accidents can seek compensation outside of a worker’s compensation claim.
The Department of Labor estimates that as an occupation coal mining is six times more likely to cause fatal injuries than any other private sector occupations. Some accidents are unavoidable, but some are the direct result of a blatant disregard for the rules and regulations that keep miners safe from harm. Such is the case of the 2010 accident at the Upper Branch Mine in Montcoal, a small town 30 miles outside of Charleston, West Virginia.
The mine operated by Massey Energy was involved in one of the worst mine accidents in the U.S. in over 30 years leaving 29 miners dead. Federal authorities believe this accident could have been prevented had Massey Energy’s CEO Donald Blankenship followed safety regulations and have indicted the coal executive for knowingly endangering miner’s lives.
On April 5th, methane levels at the Upper Branch Mine had built up to such a degree that the mine exploded, killing 29 people.
Joe Manchin who served as governor of West Virginia launched an investigation which later concluded that management of Massey Energy was more concerned with protecting their profits than their workers. According to the investigation, ventilators in the shaft were not working properly leading to elevated methane levels and the tragic explosion.
Federal authorities accuse Blankenship of conspiring to violate safety regulations, cover up violations a lying to investors and the Securities Exchange Commission. Last year, a former president of one of the Massey Energy’s subsidiaries testified in federal court that he and Blankenship would worked together to warn miners and foremen of when federal regulators arrived for surprise inspections.
Cecil Roberts President of United Mine Workers told NPR that during Blankenship’s tenure at Massey, “was a reoccurring nightmare” that was “unmatched.”
Blankenship has been charged with three felonies and
The attorney representing Blankenship denied the charges and believes his client is being punished with a federal indictment because of his outspoken criticism of safety regulations.
The indictment of Blankenship my give some of the families, who lost a loved one in that avoidable accident, some semblance of justice.
The majority of workplace accidents are covered by workman’s compensation, but there are circumstances in which injured workers or surviving family members can seek a settlement outside of a workman’s compensation claim.  For example, Blankenship’s behavior leading up to the Upper Branch explosion could be considered egregious and grounds for a personal injury of wrongful death suit. If you believe you are entitled to a better settlement, one of our West Virginia accident attorneys will listen to the circumstances of your case and determine if you’ll benefit from civil action.

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