Work-Related Respiratory Illnesses are Covered by Workers’ Compensation
Coal miners are more likely to suffer injuries and illnesses than other workers in the private industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Those who work with coal are at risk for developing respiratory illnesses such as black lung, which is compensable under both the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act and the federal Black Lung Benefits Act. The Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. are dedicated to helping those who have been diagnosed with black lung and those who have lost loved ones due to a coal-mining related disease obtain the compensation they deserve.
What is Black Lung?
Black lung, otherwise known as black lung disease or coal worker’s pneumoconiosis, is a lung disease caused by long-term inhalation of coal mine dust. In its early stages, the disease is called anthracosis. It typically presents no noticeable symptoms until later on, when patients may experience shortness of breath or coughing. As the disease progresses, nodules form in the lungs, restricting airflow and lowering blood oxygen levels.
In its most advanced stage, black lung is referred to as progressive massive fibrosis (PMF). During this time, the nodules begin to grow together and become larger, showing up as black spots on chest X-rays. Advanced symptoms such as chronic bronchitis and pulmonary emphysema may not surface until decades after a worker’s initial exposure. There is currently no cure for PMF, however if workers catch black lung in its early stages and discontinue their exposure to coal mine dust, they may be able to mitigate its potentially deadly effects.
Compensation for Black Lung Disease
Workers who have black lung or other respiratory illnesses caused by their jobs may be eligible for various types of workers’ compensation benefits under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, including payment for medical expenses and lost wages. Families of workers who died from an occupational illness may receive death benefits, including a percentage of the deceased worker’s weekly wages and burial expenses.
Coal miners who have black lung may also be entitled to compensation under the Black Lung Benefits Act, a federal statute that provides monthly benefits to disabled coal miners and survivors of workers who died from pneumoconiosis. Claims are administered by the Division of Coal Mine Workers’ Compensation (the Federal Black Lung Program), and benefits including payment for medical testing, treatment, and travel, are paid from the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund. Contact a Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. to discuss your legal options; our experienced attorneys handle both workers’ compensation and black lung litigation claims.
Coal Miner Respiratory Diseases on the Rise
In an effort to prevent deaths and serious injuries from the unsafe and unhealthful conditions and practices in the coal mines, Congress passed the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 (the Coal Act). The Coal Act requires adherence to safety and health standards, site inspections, and employee training and imposes mandatory fines and criminal penalties on mine operators for non-compliance.
Despite an initial decrease in black lung disease diagnosis during the 90s, recent rates of black lung and PMF are on the rise. Many workers who were exposed to coal dust decades ago are only now obtaining diagnoses due to increased awareness coupled with the long latency period of the disease. Those who suspect they have contracted a work-related illness may be eligible for various types of benefits and should contact a local attorney to discuss their case as soon as possible.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Represent Coal Miners in Black Lung Claims
If you have black lung or another illness caused by your job, contact a Philadelphia workers’ compensation attorney at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Our skilled and experienced attorneys can help you get the benefits to which you are entitled. We proudly serve clients throughout the state from our offices located in Philadelphia, Bensalem, Lansdowne, and Reading. For a free consultation, please complete our online contact form or call us at 888-PITT-LAW today.
We proudly represent injured workers in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County, and throughout Pennsylvania, including those in the communities of Abington, Ambler, Ardmore, Bala Cynwyd, Bensalem, Clifton Heights, Crum Lynne, Darby, Downingtown, Doylestown, Drexel Hill, Essington, Folcroft, Glenolden, Haverford, Havertown, Holmes, Kutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion Station, Morton, Narberth, Norristown, Norwood, Philadelphia, Prospect Park, Quakertown, Reading, Roxborough, Sharon Hill, Upper Darby, West Chester, and Wynnewood.