The year has just begun, but West Virginia has already sustained its first fatal mining accident of 2014. According to a news report, a 20-year-old man died Thursday at about 9:10 p.m. in a mining accident in northern West Virginia. The man was employed as a general laborer at a mine in Tucker County.

Few details about the tragic accident have been released. WVVA reported that the man suffered “crushing injuries.”

While this is the first mining fatality of the year in Western Virginia, it is the third nationwide, according to the Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training.

The accident is currently under investigation.

Coal mining is among the most dangerous occupations in the world. However, many of the injuries and deaths suffered by coal miners are preventable. Often, terrible mining accidents are caused by coal operators that fail to comply with safety regulations. We do not know whether that is what transpired in this case.

When people are injured or killed in coal mining accidents in West Virginia, victims or their surviving loved ones are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Coal companies and third parties, such as equipment manufacturers, may also be held accountable for coal mining accidents in some cases. This is a very complicated area of the law, and those who are affected by coal mining accidents may benefit from seeking legal counsel.

Of course, no amount of compensation can lessen a family’s emotional anguish following a coal mining accident. Full and fair compensation is necessary, however, to hold negligent parties accountable and ensure that families do not unnecessarily suffer from financial burdens as a result of workplace accidents.

Source: WVVA.com, “Miner killed in northern W. Va. accident,” Jan. 17, 2014