2010′s Natural Resource Disasters Highlight Difficulties in Wrongful Death Cases
Although Nevada is not home to deep-water oil rigs or large coal deposits, metals mining in Nevada is still prevalent and the Silver State actually produces the world’s third largest amount of gold after South Africa and Australia. With any natural resource extraction industry, the work involves digging for, chopping down, or otherwise harvesting the earth’s riches at a massive scale. In the 19th and 20th centuries, humans tapped into most of the easily obtained resources, leaving for today and tomorrow reserves that are generally harder to reach, more difficult to extract, and overall more dangerous to manage. To state the obvious: these are perilous industries prone to serious or fatal workplace injuries.
This difficulty and peril was on display in 2010 with major mining accidents across the world. First to steal the headlines was the explosion at the Upper Big Branch coal mine which claimed nearly 40 lives. Later in April was the BP oil spill, which devastated the Gulf Coast and was started when an explosion on the off-shore oil rig started a massive leak and killed eleven workers. Then there was the Chilean copper mining saga, where 33 men were trapped for over two months but ultimately survived. And in late November, an explosion in a New Zealand coal mine killed all 27 miners on shift.
Whatever lessons may be learned from these events, the public’s attention generally turns from each disaster after a few weeks, especially if a new tragedy or other phenomenon is more topical. But for the families directly affected by these events, life slows to a standstill as they search for closure and a way forward. More than nine months after the West Virginia incident, families of those killed in the mining accident are weighing their options. The company that owns the mine — Massey Energy — reached out to the families shortly after the accident and made a settlement offer to each family in the amount of $3 million per worker killed. The settlement offer was intended to resolve as many cases as possible without lengthy litigation and lawsuits for negligence. As the Wall Street Journal points out, the amount is greater than the $1.8 million that is typical for a wrongful death settlement but substantially less than the $7.8 that families typically receive in jury awards after a wrongful death lawsuit.
For those by tragedies such as these a Nevada mining injury, tough decisions come even before families have a chance to survey their lives and plan to rebuild. If you have lost a loved one in a Nevada workplace death or to any other kind of tragic accident, please call us today to begin a conversation. We offer free consultations and can help you decide between accepting a settlement offer and pursuing other legal options. Our Clark County workplace death lawyers have the experience you need in this difficult time.