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Spate of mining deaths leads to increased enforcement

People in New Jersey may have heard about the recent spate of mine worker deaths. Reportedly, three mine workers were killed on Aug. 3 alone in the states of Virginia, South Dakota and Nevada.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration announced that it will be stepping up safety inspections and enforcement efforts because of the number of deaths in recent months. According to a spokesperson with the federal agency, five such fatalities have happened just in the past month.

In the Virginia incident, an 18-year-old worker was killed when a silo collapsed, burying the man under tons of sand. Inspections will be focused on identifying violations of safety standards that commonly lead to miner deaths. The agency also indicated that inspectors will initiate education efforts to train both workers and operators about how to prevent fatalities. In the Virginia incident, it is unclear what caused the silo collapse and the investigation into it could take months.

When a person is killed in a fatal workplace accident, the decedent's surviving family members may want to file a workers' compensation claim. Most employers are required to carry workers' compensation insurance. When a worker is killed, the survivors may want to obtain the assistance of an attorney who has experience in these types of matters. Legal counsel may have a more thorough understanding of all of the types of benefits that might be available to the family. In the event a submitted claim is disputed or denied by either the employer or the insurance carrier, an attorney may then file an appeal and provide representation at a subsequent hearing.

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