Coal mining is a dangerous occupation that often results in workplace accidents. The unsafe working environment may lead to serious injuries, both physical and mental. Generally, these accidents are covered by workers’ compensation and therefore employers are immune to liability. However, in some states, like Ohio, employers may be held liable when the employee’s injury resulted from the employers’ intentional actions.
When an employee is involved in an accident on the job that results in injury, their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance will usually cover the cost of lost wages and medical expenses regardless of who was at fault in exchange for the employee’s agreement not to sue the employer for their injuries. However, this limits the amount that an employee can receive in compensation to the predetermined levels of benefits in the workers’ compensation system.
Ohio Revised Code § 2745.01 states that when an employer commits a tortious act with the intent to injure another or with the belief that an injury was substantially certain to occur, the employer may be held liable for the employee’s personal injury or even wrongful death. For example, if an employer purposely removes safety equipment or purposely misrepresents that a particular substance being handled by the employee is toxic, and an employee is injured, the employer may be responsible for paying the cost of damages to the employee beyond what would have been covered under workers’ compensation.
Miners face safety hazards including methane explosions, electrocution, falling debris, mine collapses and occupational-related diseases such as pneumoconiosis. The inherent dangers involved in the mining trade may be exasperated by an employer’s failure to take proper safety precautions. Generally, health and safety procedures must be followed, adequate training must be implemented and equipment must be maintained. If an employer fails to uphold these duties and an employee is injured as a result, the employee may want to pursue compensation for their resulting medical bills, including surgery, prosthesis, medication, physical therapy and counseling.
For those injured in the mining industry or loved ones of those who lost their lives while working in the mining industry, it is important to understand state laws and to be aware of all available legal options. Those who suffer from workplace injuries may benefit from the assistance of an attorney who can help ensure that an appropriate legal outcome is achieved for their case.