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Mining Accident Case Result

Underground Mining Accident

A high six-figure recovery for a young man injured by a piece of equipment in an underground mining accident, which occurred near Washington, PA. The mine had not properly installed and inspected the equipment, and it broke loose during mining operations and slammed into the abdomen of this young man and pinned him against the mine wall. He ended up with two significant abdominal surgeries and several months of pain and recovery.

This case, like many industrial accidents, raised many challenges. First, there was always the starting point that an injured employee cannot sue his employer because this would violate workers' compensation laws. Therefore, anyone hurt on the job, has to prove that someone other than his or her employer was at fault for the accident. That is often difficult to do, but fortunately in this case we were able to do that. This injured worker was actually employed by an outside contractor to do maintenance work in the mine; he was not employed by the coal mine itself. Therefore, we were able to file a lawsuit against the coal miner operator for unsafe work practices and poorly maintained equipment that our client had to use.

The other challenge in any workplace injury is that the other side always wants to blame the injured worker himself, and that was certainly the situation in this case. They claimed that our client was standing in a dangerous location when he was hurt, although as it turned out he was standing where his boss told him to stand.

A third challenge that was present in this case, and in many industrial accidents, is that witnesses sometimes do not want to be critical of their employer for fear that it will come back to haunt them. In this case, we had to get witness statements from many miners who were employed by the coal operator in order to prove that the equipment was installed in a dangerous condition.

The injuries in this case left the plaintiff with lingering problems but he was still able to do some sort of work. Therefore, his damages were not only for pain and suffering and medical expenses but also for diminished earning capacity, i.e., he may not be able to do the same types of jobs that he could do before. Although future medical expenses are often part of the equation in any industrial accident, in this case it was anticipated that our client would not have any need for future surgeries directly related to his injuries.

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