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Research study appointed after West Virginia mining disaster

Litigation has become commonplace in American culture. It's hard to go a single day without hearing about a new lawsuit in the media. Amidst this news flurry, it may be easy to forget that the legal system has accomplished many positive reforms, including a better, safer workplace for many Americans.

In West Virginia, the legal battles arising from the Upper Big Branch mine disaster are ongoing. But that litigation has also prompted a new research effort to make U.S. coal mines safer. Earlier this week, three experts on mine and workplace safety and health were named to a coal mine research study as part of Alpha Natural Resources Inc.'s settlement with the federal government.

The independent panel, selected by Alpha and approved by federal attorneys, includes mining engineering professors from Virginia Tech and West Virginia University, as well as a professor emeritus of work environment from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. The panel will operate as the nonprofit Alpha Foundation for the Improvement of Mine Safety and Health Inc., independently researching mine safety and health without involvement from either Alpha or the federal attorneys.

Most Americans don't have a coal mine for their work environment. Nevertheless, many workers will likely become injured in the course of their employment this year. At a time like that, you want an attorney on your side who can advise you on your rights.

For example, if you receive a workplace injury, you may have medical bills, impaired job function, insurance claims and countless other distractions of your time. Workers' compensation may be offered to you after your injury. It typically covers your lost wages and provides medical benefits in exchange for an agreement not to sue your employer. When presented with this choice, you may be unsure of what course of action is best for you. Before waiving your right to bring a lawsuit, you should seek advice regarding all of the options available to you.

Source: Huffington Post, "Dr. David Wegman Appointed Coal Mine Safety Researcher With Michael Karmis, Keith Heasley," John Raby, May 14, 2012

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