If the work you've done in the coal industry has caused you health problems, you may be entitled to be compensated. Several debilitating medical conditions, such as black lung disease, are closely tied to this work, and even if your exposure was many years ago, you may still have a valid claim. Read on to learn more about black lung disease and how to get benefits from workers' comp.
What causes black lung disease?
Anyone who lives in the coal-mining areas of the United States is very familiar with the black dust that seems to surround everything in sight. These tiny black particles of dust can be inhaled by workers, both above and below ground, and lodge in the lung's tissues. The body reacts to the coal dust in the lungs by attacking it and enclosing it with scar tissue. Unfortunately, the scar tissue formed in the lungs can create a number of breathing problems, some of which can take many years to become obvious.
How do you know if you have black lung disease?
It can take several years of exposure before you develop or realize you have black lung disease, and the symptoms of this disorder sometimes do not begin to show until years later. The first symptoms are often mistaken for a bad cold: a dry cough, shortness of breath, tired feeling, etc. If these symptoms persist, make sure to seek medical care and don't neglect to inform your doctor that you work, or have worked in the past, in the coal mining industry. A doctor's evaluation is necessary if you plan to file a workers' comp claim.
The diagnosis of black lung disease is normally made using a chest x-ray and then confirmed with two more tests. An arterial blood gas test and pulmonary function test will allow the doctor to observe the movement of air in and out of your lungs. Some people with black lung disease have trouble with air intake, some have trouble letting air out, and some have problems with both.
What are the treatments for black lung disease?
Black lung disease, unfortunately, is not curable at this time. Treatments often involve attempts at making breathing easier with inhaled medicines (inhalers) and oxygen therapy. Caution and persistence should be exercised if you are still working in the coal industry; continued exposure to coal will only worsen your condition. With a workers' comp claim filing should come a request to be moved to a job with less dust exposure.
Getting compensated for black lung disease.
As soon as your doctor diagnoses you with this disease, file a workers' comp claim with your employer. Depending on what state you live in, there may be a time limit to file a workers' comp claim. Additionally, you should take advantage of the Black Lung Benefits Act for help if you have become totally disabled because of this disease.
Speak with a workers comp attorney for more or click here for more information about getting compensated for this serious medical condition.