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Black lung: Can workers’ compensation cover it?

On Behalf of | Jul 8, 2024 | workers' compensation |

Coal may have a reputation as an outdated fossil fuel, but it remains a heavily used source of heat for industries such as concrete and paper. To serve these industries, many mines across America continue to excavate coal, such as those in Maryland.

However, coal workers face a health hazard through their work: pneumoconiosis. Also known as “black lung disease,” it’s caused by inhaling coal dust particles.

What is black lung?

Black lung is a type of pneumoconiosis, which refers to lung diseases caused by breathing in dust particles that scar the lung tissue. This disease doesn’t happen overnight and can take years to develop.

Symptoms of black lung include:

  • Chest tightness
  • Coughing up black mucus
  • Fatigue
  • Persistent cough
  • Shortness of breath

If the scarring is severe, it can prevent oxygen from reaching one’s bloodstream, leading to lowered blood oxygen levels. Ultimately, this can impact the body’s other organs and lead to even worse symptoms.

Fortunately, Maryland’s workers’ compensation system covers the medical treatment of this debilitating occupational disease.

Workers’ compensation eligibility

In Maryland, black lung is an occupational disease covered under the state’s workers’ compensation laws. To receive benefits, the following criteria typically apply:

  • You must have worked as a coal miner
  • Medical evidence confirms you have black lung/pneumoconiosis
  • Your illness arose out of and in the course of coal mine employment

If you’re a coal mine worker diagnosed with black lung, you’ll have to keep documentation on your employment history with mining work, medical records confirming the disease and any other information related to your condition. You’ll need all these when filing a workers’ comp claim.

However, even with all the documentation, there’s no guarantee that your claim will be approved. Legal counsel may be able to help you in appealing a denied claim.

 

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