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Fatal Polish earthquake highlights risk faced by coal miners

Coal mining remains one of the most profitable industries in West Virginia. Many people work in this critical industry that helps provide energy. Many more have loved ones who work in coal mining. The potential for injury or even death on the job is a constant worry both to coal miners and the people who care for them. Mining in general is not a particularly safe occupation, but coal mining combines the danger of working deep underground with the risk of inhaled particulates.

Occasionally, a news story will highlight the risks involved in the coal industry. After all, fatalities related to coal mining may be on the rise these days. These tragic stories often remind those who work in coal mining to remain cautious while at work. They can also remind their loved ones about the risks the miner takes every day at work.

Polish incident results in 4 deaths and a missing worker

On May 5, 2018, an earthquake hit a coal mine located in Jastrzebie-Zdroj, a town close to the Southern border. While the quake only caused tremors and shook some houses on the surface, below ground was another story. The quake hit when there were around 250 miners underground at the time of the earthquake. Five of them ended up trapped at roughly 900 feet under ground.

In the days following the earthquake, authorities have rushed to try to reach the trapped workers. Tragically, four of the five missing/trapped workers have already been discovered and declared dead. Most recently, searchers found two bodies on Sat., May 12. The search continues for the remaining missing coal miner.

Workers and families receive protection through workers' compensation

Some people simply have a higher risk of an injury or fatality at work. Thankfully, workers' compensation insurance helps protect workers and their loved ones in the event of a work-related injury, work-acquired illness or death. Injured workers can receive benefits that include medical coverage and temporary disability that replaces some of their wages while they recover. In the event of a permanent disability, benefits are available for that as well.

Families that lose a loved one in a coal mining accident may have several options available. West Virginia workers' compensation offers death benefits to surviving dependent family members. Workers' compensation may offer payment to offset the costs of a funeral, as well as ongoing wage replacement for those closest to coal miners who die on the job.

In some cases where employers intentionally violated safety regulations or cut corners in regard to worksite planning or equipment maintenance, families may also have a potential wrongful death claim against the company. While compensation cannot undue the pain associated with a work injury, it can offer your family protection from financial instability in the wake of a workplace accident.

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