Mining counts among some of the most dangerous occupations. Federal and state agencies have therefore invested significant effort into planning and implementing safety rules to reduce risks.
Some elements of mining contain inherent risks that cannot be just eliminated. Miners work with heavy equipment and machinery, in areas potentially facing hazards from natural sources such as gas or collapsing rock. When everyone involved, from company owners to workers, follows safety guidelines, these risks can decrease.
Unfortunately, not everyone follows the rules at all times. For example, in the beginning of 2017, several miners died at work while failing to follow the important rule of never working alone.
When an accident does occur, most workers first look to workers’ compensation claims, which may not extend sufficient benefits to cover resulting losses. Under some circumstances, Montana miners may have the recourse of filing a lawsuit against non-employers who may bear responsibility for the accident.
Sometimes, you may have difficulty discerning who exactly acted negligently so as to cause the accident. Take the above example of miners who worked alone when they suffered fatal accidents. Several of these accidents involved contact with machinery, falling materials and falls.
In this type of situation, a worker may be alone because he or she chose to do so knowingly or else on a supervisor’s orders, or because the whole company wrongly adopted this as a standard procedure. The workers or their supervisors may not have received proper training. In addition, other parties may have contributed by manufacturing faulty equipment, failing to properly maintain or inspect the equipment, or by failing to put up proper safety equipment such as guardrails. Entities other than the employer could bear liability, including equipment manufacturers, contractors, subcontractors and other third parties.
Some workers feel unsure about bringing a claim because they worry they may have contributed to causing the accident. Under Montana law, you can recover even if the accident was partly your fault, so long as you bear less fault than the other party.
As you can see, mining accidents can involve a lot of factual and legal complexities. Discussing your case with an experienced attorney can help you understand your options for obtaining recovery.