MINING INJURY ATTORNEYS IN OMAHA, NEBRASKA
According to statistics from the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), through the first quarter of 2022, there have been nine fatal mining industry incidents nationwide, along with 980 nonfatal injuries. In 2021, 8,248 mine workers suffered injuries, while 37 mine workers lost their lives.
Mining is one of the most dangerous occupations not only in the United States but around the world. However, since the enactment of the 1977 Federal Mine Safety and Health Act in the United States, safety in mining has increased, and deaths and injuries have gone down. Though the numbers are declining, they still represent an industry that is all too prone to worker injuries and fatalities.
If you or a loved one has been injured working in a mine in or around Omaha, Nebraska, contact the personal injury attorneys at Harris & Associates, P.C., L.L.O. With more than 50 years’ experience in helping those injured on the job recover the compensation due them, we have the knowledge, insight, and resources to help you navigate the workers’ compensation system—or when warranted, file a personal injury lawsuit.
Harris & Associates, P.C., L.L.O serves clients not only in Omaha but also throughout the surrounding counties of Douglas, Sarpy, Dodge, and Lancaster.
COMMON CAUSES OF MINING INJURIES
Falling rocks and debris are one common cause of mining injuries, but cave-ins, fires, explosions, floods, and toxic air are also causes of mining injuries and fatalities. Toxic air is a long-term threat. Miners may work their whole careers without a cave-in, explosion or similar disaster, but daily exposure to toxic substances can lead to diseases that appear later in life, and sometimes earlier.
These toxic air substances include:
Dust: Blasting and drilling create a very fine dust, which can accumulate in the lungs and lead to a disease known as pneumonoconiosis. If a miner inhales excessive amounts of another dust byproduct called crystalline silica, or quartz, this can lead to an irreversible disease called silicosis.
Radon: A radioactive, odorless gas, radon generated from mining operations can lead to lung cancer.
Welding fumes: Fumes from welding can also lead to pneumonoconiosis and even to systemic poisoning.
Mercury: Mercury is a heavy metal found in some mines (depending on the mine type), which can be inhaled, swallowed, or absorbed through the skin. Even small quantities can lead to severe poisoning. Symptoms of mercury poisoning include bleeding gums and loose teeth, mouth ulcers, tremors, nausea, abdominal pain, headaches, diarrhea, and cardiac weakness.
In addition to these dangers from exposure, miners can suffer temporary or permanent hearing loss from the noise generated in mining operations. Back injuries are also common from lifting and shoveling.
STEPS TO TAKE FOLLOWING YOUR INJURY
Your mining operation will no doubt have procedures and protocols in place for injuries on the job. The first step after an injury is to seek medical attention by following these procedures as best as possible. Since miners, like all employees statewide, are covered by workers’ compensation, to receive compensation for your injuries and lost time from work, you will need to document what happened to submit with your claim.
If your injuries allow you to do so on the scene, you can take photos with your cell phone and get statements from witnesses. When you get a chance, write down or record every detail of what happened to the best of your memory. This documentation will help you with your workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury lawsuit if a third party caused, partially or fully, your injury.
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance system, so you cannot sue your employer. However, if a piece of machinery you’re working with malfunctions, leading to your injury, there is a possibility of a third-party lawsuit against the manufacturer. The lawsuit could be based on a defect in design, a defect in manufacture, or even a defect in marketing—for instance, in not providing proper and full instructions on safely operating the equipment.
The most important point is to immediately contact a personal injury attorney to evaluate your claim or potential for a third-party lawsuit.
WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT
Unfortunately, fatalities do occur in mining operations. Workers’ compensation in Nebraska will pay the widow/widower death benefits until remarriage. Upon remarriage, the widow/widower will receive two years of death benefits in a lump sum.
Benefits are determined at two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage if there are no children. If there are children, the percentage rises to three-quarters. Children are entitled to a percentage of the benefits until they reach adulthood at 19, or until 25 if they are enrolled full-time in an accredited educational institution. Funeral expenses up to $6,000 are also paid.
If a third party caused the fatality, a wrongful death lawsuit may be available. In Nebraska, a wrongful death lawsuit must be brought by the worker’s personal representative named in the worker’s last will and testament.
If no will exists, the probate court overseeing the worker’s estate will appoint one, generally from among the family. In either case, the personal representative—or executor of the estate—must distribute the lawsuit’s award to the family members.
MINING INJURY ATTORNEYS IN OMAHA, NEBRASKA
You might think that you’ve been injured, so all you need to do is file a workers’ compensation claim. However, insurers are in the business of making money, so it’s not unusual for them to challenge your claim. At Harris & Associates, P.C., L.L.O., we can help you assemble the documentation you need to help your claim avoid any delays. In addition, we can examine the circumstances of your injury and advise you if there is the potential for a third-party personal injury lawsuit. If you’ve been hurt in a mining operation, contact us.