If you work in a coal-related industry, you are at risk for a debilitating condition called black lung disease. You may qualify for compensation for your disease from your employer, even if you no longer are working. Read on for more information about this disease and how to be compensated for your illness.

What Causes Black Lung Disease?

Inhalation of coal dust causes black lung disease, and it affects workers who work not only underground, but also above ground. When the tiny particles of coal dust are inhaled into the lungs, your body tries to rid itself of the foreign body and scar tissue soon forms, making it difficult to breathe.


This disease may be present in your body for many years without showing any symptoms. Sometimes the first symptoms, such as a shortness of breath and a dry cough, will be mild and easily mistaken for a cold, tiredness or just feeling older. Make sure that your doctor knows about your work in the coal industry when you see them.


For a workers compensation claim, you will need not only a doctor's opinion of black lung disease, but chest X-rays as well. With a positive X-ray, two more tests are normally conducted to further evaluate the disease; a pulmonary test and an arterial blood gas test. These tests indicate whether you have issues with breathing in, with breathing out, or both.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for black lung disease. The treatments usually center on easing breathing with inhalers and oxygen therapy. You should know, however, that continued exposure will make black lung disease worse. If you have been diagnosed, you have a right to request that your work be moved to an area that has less possibility of contact with coal dust.

File a Claim

You should file a workers compensation claim as soon as you are diagnosed. Every state has different time limits for filing, but it's usually three years. Additionally, you should file with the separate federally run Black Lung Benefits Act if you are totally disabled from your disease. While you can file both for both state and federal benefits, the two programs will likely coordinate benefits and offset each other to prevent you from doubling up on payments.

You are entitled to receive medical care and lost wages from these two programs, but they are limited in payment of pain and suffering. If you are having trouble with getting the workers compensation benefits you deserve, a workers compensation lawyer can work to help you. In addition, a workers compensation attorney can advise you on how you can bring a personal injury suit against your employer for damages caused by coal dust. Click here for additional info.