Six miners were injured when their cart jumped the tracks and derailed at the Tunnel Ridge Mine in Tridelphia, West Virginia. West Liberty’s Volunteer Fire Chief called it the most severe mine accident he has handled since the mine opened. The mine is owned by Alliance Resource Partners of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The miners were leaving the mine at the end of their shift, around 7 pm on July 30th. As the cart was coming down a hill and making a turn, it hit a wall. The miners were taken by ambulance to the Ohio Valley Medical Center for treatment. Though one suffered a broken ankle as a result, none of the miners sustained serious injuries. Five of the six miners have been released from the hospital, and the one that remains is listed as being in good condition. Alliance will conduct an investigation into the cause of the accident.
The Tunnel Ridge Mine opened in 2008, with the aim of mining 70.5 million tons of high-sulfur coal on 9,400 acres located in Ohio County in West Virginia and Washington County in Pennsylvania. Mining operations began in the second half of 2010. While Alliance Resource Partners does not have the reputation of Massey Energy Company for ignoring safety, its mines have been the scenes of previous accidents. In April 2010, two miners were killed when the roof collapsed at the Dotiki Mine in neighboring Kentucky. In October 2010, one miner was killed after being hit by a shuttle car at the River View Mine, also in Kentucky.
Fortunately, the accident involving the six miners at Tunnel Ridge did not have a tragic outcome. While coal mining is a vital industry in West Virginia, one that many families have proudly taken part in generation after generation, it is also filled with risks. It is important for safety hazards to be minimized whenever possible. We at the Wolfe Law Firm hope that Alliance Resource Partners conducts a thorough investigation and makes any necessary safety upgrades as quickly as possible.
If you or your loved one is injured in a mining accident, you should find a West Virginia personal injury lawyer to help you obtain relief. Since the injury happened at work, you ought to be eligible to receive workers compensation. Workers compensation is a series of payments meant to cover your lost wages and expenses. It is granted to any injured worker regardless of fault, in exchange for the worker waving his or her right to sue the employer. You do not have the option of electing whether to receive workers compensation or sue your employer; as long as your employer carries workers compensation insurance, you must receive workers compensation. However, not all employers carry the insurance. Or a third party, such as the manufacturer of the mine tracks or the carts, might be partly responsible for the accident. In that case, you could sue the employer for negligence and the manufacturer for negligence and/or strict liability. You would argue that the employer was negligent because it owed a duty to the workers to operate a reasonably safe mine, and it failed to act appropriately, resulting in the miners’ injuries. You would argue that the manufacturer was negligent because it did not take reasonable care in the production stage, or strictly liable because the tracks or cart had a serious flaw due to manufacturing, design, or an inadequate warning label.
In the Tunnel Ridge situation, a lawsuit might not be necessary, since most of the injuries are so minor. However, if you find yourself in a serious mining accident, do not hesitate to contact a West Virginia attorney.