Appalachia Worker Killed in Coal Pillar Accident

Coal mines are notoriously dangerous work sites. In addition to lung disease and other chronic illnesses contracted while working in a mine, victims are also at risk of collapse or explosion. In a tragic work-accident case, a coal miner from Appalachia was killed and two other miners were injured earlier this month. Local and federal investigations are still underway to determine the cause of the accident and identify responsible parties.


Victims of coal mining accidents and their families are entitled to workers’ compensation. Our Spartanburg workers’ compensation attorneys are experienced with the investigation and documentation of complex claims and are dedicated to helping families recover the support that they need and deserve. We are committed to remaining abreast and aware of developments involving work-related accidents in North Carolina and the Appalachia region.

The accident occurred in an underground coal mine in Kentucky. According to local agencies investigating, a 56-year-old worker was killed in the accident. Two other coal miners suffered injuries while trying to retreat. The fatal accident occurred at the processing operation of the coal mining plant. Preliminary reports indicated that the side of a coal pillar burst as a continuous mining machine was operating, trapping the miners. The other victims reportedly did not suffer life-threatening injuries; however, they were taken to the hospital for medical treatment.

Coal pillars are described by industry professionals as blocks of coal left in place, intended to “hold the roof” of the site. The retreat mining process involves moving the pillars while “retreating” from the mined area. The use of coal pillars is a known risk because they have the potential to burst under pressure. In the event that a coal pillar bursts, a large amount of material can explode into the mine. This force is a significant danger that can result in deadly accidents and injury.

Since the accident, production at the mine has been suspended. The case is currently being investigated by federal authorities. State safety officials are also responding to the scene to conduct their own investigation. This accident marks the second mining fatality in the Appalachia region this year. A January accident involving a blade and bulldozer killed a miner in a previous accident.

Coal mining accidents should be investigated independently to preserve evidence and documentation on behalf of victims. Any reports conducted by local, state or federal agencies may also be used to support a claim. Victims may be able to pursue third-party claims in addition to workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation includes medical costs and lost wages. A third-party claim also allows victims and their families to collect for pain and suffering and additional personal losses.

In this case, the family of the killed worker and the injured worker will be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. While workers’ compensation claims do not require that the victim prove fault, victims must prove that the accident occurred while “in the course of performing work related duties.” Victims and their families should preserve all medical documentation and contact an experienced advocate as soon as possible after an accident.

If you or someone you love was injured in a work accident, contact the Lee Law Offices at 1-800-887-1965 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your right to benefits.

More Blog Entries:
New Legislation Aims to Bolster OSHA Role in Worker Safety, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, May 25, 2013

Dangers of Combustible Gas: OSHA Reports
, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, July 31, 2013

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