Getting Compensation For Black Lung Disease
For workers in the coal industry, the specter of a work-related illness called black lung disease is ever-present. You should know that you can get compensated for this debilitating lung disease, even if the damage to your lungs occurred years ago. Read on to learn more about this disease and how you can use workers' compensation to get financial and medical benefits.
What to Know About Black Lung Disease
Tiny particles of coal dust are everywhere in coal mining areas, and without protection it's difficult to avoid inhaling those particles into your lungs. Once there, you may not notice any problems for a while, but eventually the scar tissue formed by your body to fight off these invaders makes breathing difficult. The first hint of a problem could be mistaken for a bad cold, but the tired feeling and continued shortness of breath will begin to manifest in an increasingly difficult to ignore manner eventually.
See a doctor immediately if you suspect that your cold is something more, and make sure that your doctor knows that you work in the coal industry. The doctor can confirm black lung disease with three tests: a positive chest x-ray, a pulmonary function test and an arterial blood gas test. You may have problems taking in air, expelling air, or both.
Unfortunately, there is no real cure for this disease, only treatments to help breathe easier, such as inhaled medications and oxygen therapy. You must take action quickly at your workplace to request less exposure to the dust particles. If you continue to expose your lungs to the coal dust particles, your scar tissue will only continue to build, cutting off your ability to breath entirely.
How to Get Compensated
As soon as you know you have black lung disease, file a workers' compensation claim by alerting your supervisor. Don't worry about how long it's been since you were first exposed to these dust particles, the statute of limitations stretches to accommodate people who had no knowledge of their exposure to dangerous substances until later. Use caution, however, since the statute of limitations could apply once you know about the exposure and medical condition.
In addition to workers' comp, you may be eligible for the Black Lung Benefits Act, a federal program to help those totally and permanently disabled by this disease. You should be aware that there is a total dollar amount limit to your benefits from both worker's comp and the Black Lung Benefits Act.
If you are having trouble getting your claim approved, contact workers compensation lawyers as soon as possible.