Workers' Compensation For Black Lung Disease

If you are a worker in a coal-related industry, you should know that your health is at risk from a disease known as black lung. If you are found to be suffering from black lung disease, you may be eligible for compensation from your employer's workers' compensation insurance company, even if you have not worked in that industry for many years. To learn more about this disease and how you can be compensated, read below.

What is Black Lung Disease?

This lung disorder is caused by scar tissue forming in your lungs. The scar tissue is your body's way of coping with the tiny particles of coal dust that are inhaled while on the job. Even if you work above the ground, you are still at risk to inhale these tiny coal dust particles.

The process of lung scarring happens gradually, over years of exposure. You may not even show any symptoms at first, but soon the scar tissue that has formed will begin to cause difficulties with breathing. Sometimes the symptoms of black lung disease is mistaken for a bad cold, with shortness of breath, a dry cough and a tired feeling.

How is Black Lung Disease Diagnosed?

To prove that you have black lung disease, you will need not only a positive chest X-ray, but a pulmonary function test and an arterial blood gas test. These tests measure your ability to breathe in and out, and you may be diagnosed with problems with either of those or both. Make sure that your doctor understands that your lung disease is work-related.

What Can You Do?

While there is no cure for black lung disease, it can be treated with methods that aim to ease breathing, such as the use of oxygen therapy and medication inhalers. If you are still working in the coal industry, you have the right to have your workplace adjusted to lessen the exposure to coal dust. Continued exposure will only worsen the build-up of scar tissue, which could eventually prove to be fatal.

Don't delay in filing a workers' compensation claim once you have been diagnosed with black lung disease. The statute of limitations to file a claim is normally about three years, but varies by state. You are also entitled to file with the Black Lung Benefits Act, which is a federal program for people who are permanently and totally disabled from the disease. You should know that all compensation programs require a coordination of benefits, which means that you cannot receive more money just by filing with more programs.

Contact a workers' comp lawyer like Ransom, Gilbertson, Martin & Ratliff, L.L.P as soon as possible for assistance with filing your claim and getting you the compensation you deserve for your disease.