According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH), 1 in 10 underground coal miners who have worked in coal mines for at least 25 years will develop black lung. But that number is even higher for coal miners in central Appalachia (Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia), where the prevalence of black lung in coal miners is 1 in 5.
Frustratingly, black lung is completely preventable. What makes the situation even worse is that coal miners all throughout the state of Kentucky and elsewhere throughout the nation have been using defective equipment for years and even decades – specifically – defective coal dust masks and respirators.
Defective coal dust masks have been attributed to serious health issues such as black lung, which has lead to thousands of coal miner deaths.
If you were a coal miner and believe you were provided a defective dust mask/respirator which to the development of black lung disease, you may be eligible to seek out compensation as a result of the negligent parties that caused your illness.
Contact Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP right now at (859) 550-2900 to begin working with our Kentucky defective coal dust mask lawyers you need on your side. We are more than ready to help you secure the compensation you need to begin rebuilding from the damages you have suffered.
The Issue with Coal Dust Masks
While a number of companies may have sold defective masks/safety respirators for use by coal miners, one company, in particular, is at the forefront of the issue. The company 3M is currently facing hundreds of lawsuits all throughout Appalachia as a result of selling defective safety masks.
Current lawsuits allege that 3M knew as far back as 1975 that their coal dust masks did not provide adequate protection. Yet, the company continued to produce and sell their product without correcting the issue. The defective products left coal miners vulnerable to the development of black lung disease.
Other manufacturers that sold the defective coal dust masks and respirators include, but are not limited to:
- Mine Safety Appliances
- Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company
- Eastern States Mine Supply
- Fairmont Supply Company
- Persinger Supply Company
- Raleigh Mine and Industrial Supply
- American Optical Corp.
- Kentucky Mine Supply Company
If you worked as a coal miner for years and developed black lung, it may be as the result of defective coal dusk masks. The experienced team at Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP can help to determine the root cause of your illness and whether another party is liable for the illnesses you have suffered.
Do NOT hesitate. Black lung is a serious disease that can be fatal.
Contact our Kentucky coal dust mask lawsuit attorneys at (859) 550-2900 for a FREE no-obligation consultation.
What is Black Lung?
Since 2000, the nationwide prevalence of black lung has seen quite an uptick, becoming as high as it had been when record-keeping began in the early 1970s.
Black lung disease, also known as coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP), is a serious – and sometimes fatal – disease caused by long-term exposure to coal dust. The illness most commonly affects coal miners and others who worked with coal over a long period of time.
Inadequate, improper, or inconsistent use of protective equipment can increase the risk factor of developing black lung.
As workers breathe in coal dust, the particles begin to settle in the airways and lungs of the individuals. As the body’s immune system attempts to remove the particles, inflammation can occur. Continuous and frequent inflammation over the years eventually causes a form of scarring known as fibrosis. This scarring can shrink the volume of the lungs and result in more damage to surrounding tissue, as well as other vital organs.
The severity of black lung depends essentially on how much dust was inhaled and on how long exposure to coal dust occurred.
There are two forms of black lung disease:
- Simple CWP refers to minimal spots or scar tissues caused by the inhalation of the dust particles.
- Complicated CWP, also referred to as progressive massive fibrosis (PMF), refers to severe amounts of scarring on the lung tissue. This can eventually lead to respiratory or heart failure.
While it was generally believed that black lung disease would begin to take effect after 10 to 20 years of constant coal dust exposure, researchers have begun to notice the disease can affect miners within a considerably lower amount of time.
Symptoms of Black Lung
Individuals with or developing black lung may not have any noticeable symptoms at first. However, over time, they may begin to notice:
- A constant cough with or without mucus
- Shortness of breath especially after physical activity (walking, exercise, etc.)
- Breathlessness, even at rest
When coal workers’ pneumoconiosis begins to progress and affect larger parts of the lungs, oxygen may not easily reach the blood, which can result in low blood oxygen levels (hypoxemia). Hypoxemia may affect the sufferer whether they are at rest or during physical activity.
It is important to visit a trained medical expert if you believe you are dealing with black lung. When suffering from low blood oxygen levels, vital organs like the heart and brain can be affected.
In the long term, black lung disease can lead to additional complications such as:
- Chronic bronchitis which is the long-term inflammation of the breathing tubes
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which affects airflow from the longs
- Lung cancer
If you are dealing with black lung disease and other illnesses caused by defective coal dust masks, then contact our Kentucky attorneys at (859) 550-2900 for a FREE no-obligation consultation.
How Black Lung is Diagnosed & Treated
If you believe you are suffering from black lung, then it is in your best interest to seek out medical attention in order to verify whether or not you have the disease. While general healthcare providers may provide initial evaluation, you are likely to be referred to a pulmonologist for a full physical assessment.
There are several tests you may undergo to determine if you have pneumoconiosis (black lung), including:
- Your medical history will be analyzed
- Physical examination
- Breathing tests
- X-ray or CT scans of chest area
- These tests may reveal areas of inflammation, spots, or excess fluid around the lungs
- A bronchoscopy
While there is currently no cure for black lung, treatment is intended to mitigate damage, decrease issues associated with symptoms, and improve your general quality of life. The various forms of treatment may include:
- Use of inhalers
- Oxygen tank
- Lung transplant in specific cases
- Quitting cigarette smoking
Contact Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP right now at (859) 550-2900 to learn more about how we can help you with your defective coal mask and black lung lawsuit.
How Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP Can Help You
The defective coal dust mask and black lung injury lawyers at Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP are ready to help deliver the results you need. We are currently representing 325 miners. This means we have thoroughly researched, analyzed, and developed the strongest possible cases for these individuals. And we are ready to do the same for you.
Our team of lawyers will work diligently to assist coal miners and their families by:
- Helping to uncover who may be held liable for the defective coal dust mask; may include manufacturers, distributors, or retailer. Any or all of the previously mentioned parties may be held liable for damages resulting from the defective dust masks that caused your illness.
- Collect vital evidence to substantiate your claim.
- Represent you in your dealings with insurance companies, the U.S. Department of Labor, the Office of Administrative Law Judges, the Benefits Review Board and possibly the United States Circuit Court(s) of Appeal.
- Help secure financial support under the Black Lung Benefits Act and other avenues.
- Represent you in court if your case goes to trial. We have the experience, resources, and ability to go up against any negligent corporation that may attempt to deny their responsibility to you.
While every case is unique, and the exact compensation available to you is determined by the circumstances of your claim, we can generally pursue compensation for:
- Medical bills (present and future)
- Lost wages
- Diminished earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
- Loss of quality of life
- Funeral expenses (in the case of a wrongful death case)
It is important to consult with an experienced lawyer who understands the legal aspects of dealing with occupational diseases, as well as product liability cases.
Our team at Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP, is prepared to help you in obtaining the compensation you need after being hurt by a defective coal mask.
For a FREE, no-obligation consultation contact Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP right now at (859) 550-2900.
We are ready to help defend your rights if you have developed black lung or some other related illness as a result of defective coal dust masks/respirators.