Last updated on November 15th, 2021
Black lung disease is an umbrella term for lung ailments that are caused by inhaling coal dust. In medical terms, this disease is called Coal Workers Pneumoconiosis. If you developed black lung disease from inhaling coal dust in the workplace, your employer may be liable to compensate you for your illness. Immediately after a confirmed diagnoses, you should speak to a personal injury solicitor to determine your legal right to pursue a black lung disease claim for compensation.
Who Is At High Risk Of Developing Black Lung Disease?
Black lung disease is caused primarily by the inhalation and accumulation of coal dust into the lungs. Anyone whose work involves handling coal for extended periods of time is susceptible to developing this disease.
Those who work in and around coal mines are at highest risk. This includes coal miners as well as workers who load and stow coal for storage. They are not the only ones at risk however. Workers employed in factories that manufacture carbon electrodes and carbon black are also vulnerable to contracting black lung disease.
What is important to note is that you may be at risk of pneumoconiosis even if you do not work directly with mining, storing or grinding coal. If you wash the clothes or otherwise handle the clothes of someone who works closely with coal, you may also be susceptible.
The risk of contracting black lung disease increases considerably if the exposure is excessive and consistent.
Symptoms & Diagnosis Of Black Lung Disease
There are little or no symptoms during the initial stages of exposure and inhalation of coal dust. The symptoms start to manifest with consistent excessive exposure. Shortness of breath and chronic cough are first symptoms that start to appear. They get more pronounced as the coal dust accumulates in the lungs after continuous exposure and are often accompanied by black sputum, fatigue, lung dysfunction, and pulmonary hypertension. Some workers may also experience heart problems and other life-threatening complications. The severity of these symptoms depends on the amount of coal dust in the air, specific type of coal dust, and the time you were exposed to it.
Occupational history is the key factor in diagnosing black lung disease. If there is no continuous, excessive exposure to coal dust, then the disease can be ruled out. For this particular diagnosis, occupational history covers all jobs recent and in the past that involved working with coal dust, including short-term, part-time, and summer jobs.
If your occupational history indicates exposure to coal dust in the workplace then chest X-rays are considered to confirm the diagnosis of black lung disease. Lung function tests are usually conducted after a confirmed diagnosis in order to determine the extent of damage to the lungs.
Preventing Black Lung Disease In The Workplace
According to the government, employers are responsible for putting measures in place to protect workers from exposure to coal dust. To comply with this legal mandate, employers are required to ensure that:
- There is proper ventilation in the workplace.
- Workers are provided with adequate personal protective clothing such as respiratory masks, eye goggles, gloves, and protective overalls.
- Workers are properly trained in handling coal and coal-related products.
- Workers are educated in first-aid measures in case of accidental exposure.
- Workers get regular breaks from carbon-related jobs.
- Regular risk assessments are conducted and safety measures updated accordingly.
If your employer failed to adhere to the regulations and you contracted black lung disease as a result, you may have grounds to file a compensation black lung disease compensation claim.
How to File A Black Lung Disease Claim
When it comes to fighting for their legal rights, most individuals hesitate because of concerns regarding legal fees. The good news is, if you have a black lung disease claim, you can get expert legal representation without paying any upfront fees. Most personal injury solicitors will file your black lung disease claim using a No Win No Fee agreement.
If you believe you have grounds for claiming compensation for black lung disease you can contact our solicitors today for a free consultation by calling 0800 6524 881. A consultation provides potential claimants with the opportunity to discuss the circumstances of the disease and provide advice on whether a compensation claim is likely to be successful.
If you have a strong black lung claim, the solicitor may offer to represent you using a No Win No Fee agreement. With this agreement in place, we take on responsibility for paying all expenses associated with your claim until such time that it is settled. If the claim is unsuccessful, you don’t pay any fees. That’s what the ‘No Win No Fee’ stands for. If the claim is successful, then you pay a set percentage of the settlement once it has been received.
Advantages Of A No Win No Fee Agreement
Filing a black lung disease claim using a No Win No Fee agreement, offers claimants several advantages. They get expert legal advice and representation without having to pay any out of pocket expenses. Your solicitor may consult with other legal and medical experts to determine the maximum amount you can claim for.
In addition to the above benefits, you are also not at any financial risk even if your claim is unsuccessful. You do not even have to pay fees for an unsuccessful claim. On winning the claim, you only pay a percentage of the award.
The important thing to remember is that black lung disease claims must be filed within 3 years from the date of diagnosis. Depending on the circumstances, it can take a significant amount of time to file a claim. This is why it is so important to seek legal advice as soon as you are aware that you’ve contracted this or any other disease because of negligence in the workplace.
If you would like to speak to a solicitor for advice regarding a black lung disease claim please contact us today for a free consultation.