Workers Compensation for Coal Miners

Coal mining sites are one of the most dangerous work environments. Coal miners usually spend hours on end in a coal mine and this usually places them at risk of coal mining injuries or some form of pain and suffering such as an injured body part. This can have a profoundly negative impact on their lives.

The medical and treatment expenses for an injured coal mine worker can sometimes be too much to bear, often requiring further treatment beyond the initial injury. Fortunately, the law of Queensland requires coal mine employers to provide safe work environments in the mine site for their workers. An employer who fails to do so is liable to be sued for workers compensation. An injured coal mine worker can bring forward a workers compensation claim against their employer. This article will discuss all that relates to workers compensation claims in the coal industry.

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Common Coal Miners Compensation Claims

Coal mining accidents in Queensland can have several significant causes leading to claims from injured workers. Let's consider common coal mine accidents:

Coal Mine Collapse

One of the most horrible outcomes for mine workers is a coal mine collapse. This can result in significant numbers of fatalities, some of those occurring immediately, and others being stuck underground, 'locked in' due to fallen debris. Additionally, crush injuries can occur from falling debris, and poisonings may result from released gas.

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Gas Explosions

Gas explosions are caused by the release of methane from coal beds. These gasses are generally confined and build up until they explode due to high pressure as they cannot find an escape. This could result in serious injury with a lot of pain and suffering, impairment, or even death if this risk is not managed.

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Faulty Machinery

Defective machinery in the workplace often shifts liability in claims of workers compensation to the employer. Employers must act in good faith and prevent possible injuries in the workplace. Improving or refurbishing machinery can greatly reduce the risk of liability.

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Motor Vehicle Accidents

A vehicle accident involving nearby machinery, miners, or other workers poses another risk. These accidents can cause sparks that lead to gas explosions. Injuries from these accidents can have life-altering impacts and may necessitate future care.

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Slips, Trips, or Falls

Owing to the nature of the job, coal mines place a huge risk on workers. A slip, trip, or fall in the mine can cause bodily harm but they can also result in a lot of pain and suffering. These accidents are often due to uneven surfaces and poorly lit workplaces.

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Accidents Involving Hazardous Chemicals

A number of chemicals that are common in some workplaces, can cause significant health issues if strict safety measures are in place, they include:

  • Carbon monoxide is a hazardous gas that can claim lives within minutes
  • Hydrogen sulfide is colorless and poisonous that can result in those exposed being
  • And many more
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Black Lung, Asbestos Exposure & Other Respiratory Diseases

Due to the stagnant air flow in coal mines, breathable air is minimal. In coal mines, there are a lot of harmful dust particles which, when inhaled can have a hugely negative impact on the respiratory systems of miners.

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Industrial Deafness

Mining contributes to occupational noise-induced hearing loss. This is because of constant exposure to hazardous noise levels within the mines.

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Can Injured Coal Miners Claim Compensation?

Coal miners are usually at significant risk of injury including coal mining site accidents and exposure to harmful dust and chemicals. This is why it's important for employers to ensure the working conditions are safe and that a coal miner has the appropriate protective gear.

An injured coal miner or any person injured whilst working has a right to claim workers compensation. Workers compensation includes payments to employees to cover their:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Past and future loss of wages in case the worker cannot return to work
  • Future and past loss of superannuation benefits

A work-related injury can refer to personal injury causing physical pain and suffering or permanent disability, psychological distress, and even death. One doesn't have to be in the commission of work duties to claim workers compensation. If a coal miner in the Queensland mining industry was injured at work during a break, traveling to and from work or for work reasons, or at a work function, s/he can still claim workers compensation benefits.

However, compensation for coal miners differs from that of other workers. Coal miners have special workers compensation rights that allow them to receive significantly more money. But, coal miner claims can be quite complicated because these types of claims fall under a specialist area of compensation law. Therefore, it's important to obtain advice from qualified personal injury lawyers in trusted law firms.

At times, more than one claim can arise from one mining accident. This means the legal fees arising from a personal injury claim can be quite substantial. This is why it's important to obtain advice from professional compensation lawyers who'll increase the chances of success.

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What is the Coal Miners Compensation Claims Process?

After a coal miner sustains a personal injury while at work, they are entitled to make a workers compensation claim. The first thing one should do is seek medical treatment for the injury by a qualified physician. One should remember that the medical and treatment expenses will be covered in the WorkCover claim process.

Workers compensation claims in QLD can either be a common law claim or a statutory claim. Common law claims will differ from statutory claims depending on the personal injury sustained, estimations of future loss, pain, and suffering.

1. Submit an Application with WorkCover

‍After getting treatment, one begins by lodging a statutory claim. The steps for making workers compensation claims are:

  • Getting a Work Capacity Certificate from a qualified doctor. The Work Capacity Certificate is given to the injured worker by the doctor who treats the injury.
  • Lodge a claim form with WorkCover.
  • If the employer is self-insured, the injured employee should ask the employer for the details of the insurance company.

In Queensland, a WorkCover claim for compensation has to be lodged within 2o business days of the injury or else WorkCover may deny statutory payments for the workers injured in the line of duty. Also, to avoid losing the rights altogether, injured workers have to lodge their claims at the latest within 6 months.

2. Wait for Assessment from WorkCover QLD

After submitting the claim, WorkCover will assess the claim and decide whether to grant the statutory compensation for the workplace injury. A document in workers compensation claims referred to as a Notice of Assessment is issued.

3. Receive Outcome of Compensation Claim from WorkCover

Within 20 business days, WorkCover will make a decision whether to accept or reject the statutory compensation claim. The outcome of the assessment will state the result and the amount to be received from the claim.

4. Accept Compensation Claim Offer or Claim Damages

Once WorkCover approves the claim, the injured worker can either choose to accept or reject the statutory compensation offered. In the event of dissatisfaction with the compensation, the injured worker has the option of filing court proceedings to claim damages against the employer. Having qualified compensation lawyers during this whole process is important.

How Long do I Have to Make a Coal Miners Compensation Claim?

The time limit for making a workers comp claim is 6 months from the time the injury occurred. However, in instances of a reasonable delay, a claim can be made up to three years.

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What Does it Cost to Make a Workers Compensation Claim?

A majority of compensation lawyers usually charge between 10-20% of the settlement award. However, a good number of lawyers offer a no win no fee plan where if the case isn't successful, the claimant doesn't have to pay any legal fees.

Coal Miners Compensation Claims

Coal miners compensations can be provided in the form of:

  • Ongoing weekly payments of compensation. The amount of these weekly payments is dependent on the extent of the injury.
  • Coverage of past and future medical costs.
  • Lump-sum payments under certain circumstances, for example, if the injury results in permanent disability or a lost limb. What's more, further lump sum payments can be made if the injured worker's condition deteriorates or requires further treatment.

There are two types of claims:

  • Statutory claims
    For these claims, compensation is paid regardless of whose fault it was for causing the injury. Payments for these claims include weekly benefits as income replacement, payments for permanent impairment, and past and future health expenses.
  • Common law claims
    A common law claim involves the injured worker suing the employer for negligence. These claims can only proceed after a statutory claim has been lodged and accepted by WorkCover QLD. The court can award payments (common law damages) for legal costs, medical costs, loss of superannuation benefits, household duties assistance by support workers, economic loss, and pain and suffering compensation.

Lump-Sum Compensation

Lump-sum compensation is one of the entitlements that injured employees can claim in Queensland. A lump-sum compensation is a payment for a work-related injury that an employee suffers and which leads to permanent loss of function or movement. This permanent injury can be physical as well as psychological.

In order to receive lump-sum compensation, an assessment of the employee's injuries by an approved medical expert is required. This will clearly show if there is or isn't permanent impairment. The lump-sum compensation awarded will significantly be more especially if the condition will incur future medical treatment expenses.

In Queensland, the Worker's Compensation & Rehabilitation Act 2003 requires injured workers with up to a 20% degree of permanent impairment (DPI) to either accept the lump sum compensation or to pursue common law claims for damages. Injured workers with more than 20% DPI are entitled to both options.

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Lodge A "No Win No Fee" Claim

If you suffer injuries whilst at work, and you are looking for further information in terms of making a claim. Here at Smith's Lawyers, we offer a free consultation for injured people looking to seek compensation. As mentioned before, we also have a "No Win. No Fee. No Catch." policy, which means you will never be out of pocket.

Get in touch with us today to give yourself the best opportunity to understand your rights.

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