West Virginia has a booming coal mining industry. Since the mid-1800s, West Virginians have dug mines to excavate coal as a resource. Today, coal mining is still one of the most important jobs in the state’s economy. Thousands of people work in West Virginia’s coal industry, with almost 11,000 working directly in underground mines. Unfortunately, coal mining is also one of the deadliest industries due to the risk of serious disasters. Workers have a high risk of being in the wrong place at the wrong time while coal mining.

Worst Mining Disasters in West Virginia’s History

Most mining disasters throughout history have involved explosions or collapses of underground mines while workers were present. A mine could collapse from natural causes or a mistake on the miners’ part. A mine could also collapse in an explosion. Explosions can occur in mining if sparks or open flames contact a build-up of methane gas in the mine. West Virginia mining disasters have taken thousands of workers’ lives since the 1800s.

  • Fairmont Coal Company Mining Disaster. In 1907, two mining explosions in Monongah, West Virginia took the lives of 362 workers in the worst mining disaster in American history. To this day, the causes of the explosions are unknown.
  • Eccles Mining Disaster. In 1914, another serious explosion took 174 miners’ lives. A controlled explosion in a different mine cut off ventilation in other mining areas. Then, an open flame ignited a buildup of gas in the mine, causing an explosion.
  • Benwood Mining Disaster. Another 119 miners in West Virginia died on the job in 1924 when two explosions, likely due to methane gas, proved fatal. Many of the miners died in the initial explosion, but others passed away from breathing in toxic air.

Other mining industry tragedies have taken hundreds of workers’ lives throughout the state, including the Bartley Mine Explosion of 1940, Sago Mining Disaster in 2006 and the Upper Big Branch Mining Disaster in 2010. Although the mining industry has grown safer with new technologies, disasters can and do still occur.

Can You Receive Compensation for a Mining Disaster?

As a worker injured in a West Virginia mining disaster, you could be eligible for financial recovery through two different outlets. The first is a workers’ compensation claim. The state’s workers’ compensation system provides benefits to injured workers hurt on the job without the burden of proving fault. All employers with three or more employees must provide workers’ compensation coverage, with some exceptions. Workers’ compensation will typically apply to any type of accident or injury, as long as it occurred while the employee was performing work-related tasks.

To file a workers’ compensation claim after a mining disaster, first report the incident to your employer within 30 days. Your employer will then file a claim with the state’s Office of the Insurance Commissioner. You will have six months from the date of the mining disaster to file this form. The insurance company will respond with a claim acceptance or denial, at which point you may either accept the offered settlement or explore your other options. If someone else’s negligence caused the mining disaster, you may be able to receive greater compensation through a civil lawsuit.

A personal injury lawsuit would seek to hold one or more parties legally responsible for causing or contributing to the mining disaster. An employer or coworker’s negligence could be to blame for serious worker injuries or wrongful deaths. If this is the case, a personal injury lawsuit could result in greater compensation for the injured party than accepting a workers’ comp settlement. You cannot, however, file a claim against your employer once you accept workers’ comp. For this reason, it is important to discuss all your legal options with a personal injury attorney in West Virginia before making a move.

Attorney Timothy Manchin established the Manchin Injury Law Group in 2011 after his law partner of more than 25 years became a West Virginia circuit court judge. His focus is on helping individual clients and entire families victimized by negligent acts.

  • Taylor Downs was easy to talk to (I do not speak the legal language well!) and was very upfront and honest about the entire process of my case. He kept me updated as the case progressed, and answered my relentless questions. The end result was a favorable settlement that I’m not sure could have been any better with anyone else. In short, go see Taylor if you have a case. Don’t be intimidated to go seek his help, he won’t blow your brains out with “legal speak”.


  • Being referred to Taylor was the best thing I could have asked for. Taylor and staff are very easy to talk to. I would highly recommend them to anyone.


  • If I ever have to go through it again I would definetly call Taylor right away. The group was so helpful through my situation and handled everything that needed to be done. They made a stressful situation a stress free situation. With Taylor you dont have to worry about one thing. Definietly would recomend to anyone.

    - TAYLOR G.

  • Efficient, knowledgeable, and friendly.


  • Taylor and Tim helped make a difficult moment in life, a little more bearable. Easy to communicate with and informative. I will absolutely recommend them to everyone.


  • Manchin Injury Law Group, Took care of me when I got into a car accident while I was pregnant. Very scary moment for a first time mom but thankfully Manchin Injury Law Group had my back and treated me great. They made me feel as if I was part of their family. My son is now 7 Months Old and very happy and healthy. I’m very thankful for them for helping me through everything and getting me what we deserved. I 100% would recommend them to anyone. If I ever have an accident again they will be my number 1 phone call!


  • The support given helped me to feel like I was included in my personal injury case every step of the way. I was informed about the entire process throughout. It was amazing how quick the turn around time was and I would definitely recommend Attorney Timothy J. Manchin to anyone!


  • Taylor and Kelly worked hard on my case so I didn’t have to. Thanks guys!


  • Excellent experience dealing with Manchin Injury Law. They were very responsive, professional and easy to talk to. I did my homework before I hired a lawyer after my accident and I am so glad I found Manchin Injury Law Group. If you are injured, give them a call!


  • Taylor and Tim helped make a difficult moment in life, a little more bearable. Easy to communicate with and informative. I will absolutely recommend them to everyone.


  • Kelly and Taylor did all the hard work so that I didn’t have to. They both cared about my circumstance and got me a nice settlement. Taylor knows what he is doing and I felt comfortable with my case in his hands.


  • Great lawyers. They helped me with a West Virginia case.


  • Such a great experience with Taylor and this firm. Thankful for their diligence and their work on our case. Thank you to all!


  • Had a easy and smooth experience with a great attorney so when you go there make sure you ask for Taylor.


  • My experience at the Manchin Injury Law Group was extremely positive, and I would recommend them to anyone who needs a compassionate and experienced lawyer on their side.


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