Developing black lung disease can result in devastating consequences due to debilitating symptoms that can have a huge impact on a person’s quality of life. The level of severity of the symptoms can vary depending on the extent of damage to the lungs. In some cases, black lung disease can result in loss of life. Importantly, if you’re suffering from black lung disease caused by someone else’s negligence, you might be able to claim black lung disease compensation.
This guide aims to provide you with enough information to help prepare you for pursuing compensation for black lung disease to cover the damages you have had to experience and endure due to negligence. We discuss how to determine your eligibility, what evidence may be needed, and how to successfully get through the process of making a compensation claim.
Please continue reading to find out more about the black lung disease compensation claims process or call us on 0800 6524 881 if you’d prefer to speak to somebody right away.
Table of contents
- What Is Black Lung Disease?
- Am I Eligible To Make A Black Lung Disease Claim?
- Who Is At High Risk Of Developing Black Lung Disease?
- Can I Sue My Employer For Black Lung Disease Compensation?
- How Much Compensation For Black Lung Could I Claim?
- Evidence To Support A Black Lung Disease Claim
- Time Limits For Claiming Black Lung Compensation
- Starting The Black Lung Disease Claims Process
Black lung disease is an occupational lung disease also known as coal workers’ pneumoconiosis. It is caused when someone is exposed to coal dust for a prolonged period of time, causing them to inhale the coal dust particles which then accumulate in the lungs over time. This results in the lungs becoming inflamed and scarred. Coal miners who have worked in mines for many years are primarily associated with black lung disease.
The lungs of individuals affected by black lung disease, develop black or darkened spots caused by the accumulation of dust particles. This is why it is called black lung disease.
The disease can vary in severity, some people experience only mild symptoms, whereas others can develop progressive massive fibrosis which can be fatal.
If you’ve been diagnosed with black lung disease within the last three years, you may be entitled to compensation. However, before agreeing to make your claim on your behalf, a personal injury solicitor will generally first need to verify the following:
- That you were owed a duty of care by the defendant; and
- The defendant acted negligently; and
- Due to their negligence, you developed black lung disease.
To be able to confirm these statements, you’ll need to provide evidence. Therefore we’ll look at what types of evidence would be useful further on in the guide.
If you are unsure as to whether you are eligible to make a claim, please contact our claims advisors for expert advice.
Those who work in and around coal mines are at the highest risk of developing black lung disease. 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.
Depending on the level of exposure to coal dust, and how severely you have been affected by black lung disease, the symptoms can vary. Symptoms may include:
- Shortness of breath.
- Chest pain.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Chronic bronchitis.
- Pulmonary hypertension.
- Respiratory failure.
Sometimes there aren’t any obvious symptoms of black lung disease until the disease has progressed to a severe level. This can often make it hard for the condition to be diagnosed and treated in its earlier stages.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, particularly if you have worked in the coal mining industry, it’s very important that you speak with a medical professional. A medical examination would be able to determine if you are suffering from black lung disease, or another lung condition, and get you the right treatment for it.
Employers have a legal obligation under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 to ensure their workers have a safe environment in which to work. This means carrying out our risk assessments and making sure that any hazards are dealt with by either removing them or putting practices in place to reduce them to a safe level. This essentially means 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.
- Ensure all employees are adequately trained in the correct use of PPE.
- 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 are 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 black lung disease compensation claim.
A personal injury claim for black lung disease will generally of two different groups of damages, one covering the physical and emotional effects of the disease called general damages. The other group refers to the financial effects of the disease, these are called special damages.
Therefore, compensation for black lung disease could cover:
- The physical and emotional pain and suffering you have endured.
- Effect on quality of life, loss of amenity.
- Type and length of treatment involved.
- Future outlook regarding health and quality of life.
- Medical expenses such as medication costs, and treatment costs including therapy.
- Travel expenses. If you have had to travel to medical appointments, for example, fuel or public transport costs would be included.
- Lost income and any predicted future loss of income.
- Costs of having a carer in the home if required.
If you are unsure what exactly can be included in your black lung disease claim, you can speak to one of our expert advisors and they will be able to go through what factors may be considered in your particular case when deciding the settlement amount.
As mentioned earlier, part of the black lung disease claims process involves gathering evidence so that you can show that the defendant is responsible for your developing the condition. Without sufficient evidence, you may not be awarded as much compensation or even any at all.
Evidence that may be useful includes:
- Medical report. A copy of your medical report stating your black lung disease diagnosis and any notes regarding required treatment and future prognosis.
- Witness statements. If there are any witnesses that can back up your claim of negligence such as work colleagues, take contact details so that they can be contacted to provide a witness statement.
- Visual evidence. Photos/video footage of the working conditions or area where you believe you were unnecessarily exposed to coal dust.
- Personal statement. Give a personal account of how black lung disease has affected you and the impact it has had on your everyday life.
It’s a good idea to start collecting evidence for a black lung disease claim as soon as you can whilst everything is still quite fresh in your mind. Also, gathering evidence earlier rather than later should give you enough time to get everything you need in place for your claim.
As you may already know, personal injury claims are bound by strict time limits in the UK. For black lung disease claims, you’ll generally have 3-years to make a claim starting from when the disease is diagnosed. Importantly, if you’re making a claim after the death of a loved one, you will have 3-years to start the claim from the date black lung disease was identified as the cause of death.
Importantly, as lung diseases can take many years to appear before they are diagnosed, you could potentially still start a claim even if:
- Your employer’s business no longer exists.
- You weren’t an employee of the company that you believe caused the illness.
Compensation claims can take anywhere from a few months to several years for complex cases to come to a conclusion, therefore, it’s really important to start the claiming process as early as possible to ensure you have adequate time in which to produce a strong case for compensation.
If you have decided to make a claim for black lung disease compensation, and are ready to start your claim, simply contact our claims team and we can get the process started. During a free consultation, one of our advisors will take all of the details regarding your claim from you and make an assessment as to whether you have a good chance of success.
Our solicitors operate on a No Win No Fee basis so will only take on cases that they feel are viable and have a good chance of succeeding in securing a compensation award. We will tell you honestly whether we believe you have a good case or not as we don’t want to waste anybody’s time or build your hopes up if your case isn’t strong enough.
If a black lung disease claim is viable, with our legal expertise, we can ensure that your case has everything covered and contains adequate evidence to back it up. We will do our absolute best to secure you the maximum compensation award that we can.
If you’d like to start a black lung disease claim for yourself or somebody who has since died from the disease, please call our team today on 0800 6524 881 or use the live chat provided.