Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Miner disfigured in Pennsylvania coal mine crash sues employer

Visitor status determines the level of protection an injured person has after an Allegheny County property accident. In Pennsylvania, even a trespasser who gets hurt on your property has some legal recourse under premises liability laws, although not the same rights as visitors you expect or invite.

A Pennsylvania miner, whose face was smashed in a work accident, is suing coal producer Alpha Natural Resources, Inc. and Latrobe-based coal supplier Amfire Mining Co. The Alpha Natural Resources website claims the company operates about 145 mines and employs 14,000 people.

The plaintiff claims the defendants were negligent in the care and maintenance of a mantrip, a vehicle used to shuttle miners inside and outside mines. The worker said he was driving a self-operating mantrip two years ago to head into the Dora #8 Deep Mine in Jefferson County, when the vehicle's brakes failed.

The complaint said the mantrip was at high speed when it crashed into a utility pole and fractured the plaintiff's jaw, elbow, nose and eye socket. At least one of the fractures required multiple corrective surgeries. The miner also suffered torn tendons and facial cuts, with disfiguring results.

The injured man claimed the coal companies neglected their duty of care by allowing a dangerously faulty vehicle to be used by employees. Damages sought include wage losses due to medical treatment and recovery plus disfigurement, physical pain and emotional suffering.

Most visitors have a legitimate reason for entering a property - a business customer, a guest, a family member, a leaseholder or an employee. Property owners are bound to provide visitors with an environment that is reasonably safe from hazardous conditions.

A premises liability attorney can explain the different classifications of visitors and their rights to protection under liability laws. In case you're curious, an injured trespasser can file a claim when a property owner fails to supply adequate warnings, like signs detailing unsafe conditions.

Source: The Pennsylvania Record, "Pa. coal miner sues over injuries allegedly caused by faulty brakes on mining vehicle" Jon Campisi, Jan. 07, 2014

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