At Bailey, Javins & Carter, L.C., we have extensive experience going up against the large coal companies and their armies of high-priced attorneys. Over the years, we have developed an in-depth understanding of the tactics the coal companies commonly employ to try and game the system. For example, when a black lung disease (otherwise known as coal worker’s pneumoconiosis, CWP) claim is filed against them, the coal company typically responds with statements denying any responsibility. They will even provide clean samples to back up their statements.
It is not difficult to come up with clean samples when you are able to doctor them before presenting them as evidence. We understand this game; and more importantly, we understand how to effectively untangle their web of deceit and show the truth to the judge and jury. Our attorneys have more than 40 years of experience holding coal companies accountable for harm caused to West Virginia coal miners. We can help you get the compensation you deserve.
How We Overcome the Challenges in CWP Cases
Sadly, CWP is 100 percent preventable, yet thousands of miners every year discover they have this deadly lung disease. A miner can get simple CWP by working in just one mine where respirable dust is allowed to exceed the legal limits. If the mine is particularly unsafe in its dust practices, the disease process can become greatly accelerated, and the CWP progression becomes equivalent to having worked in the unsafe mine for several years.
Proving that the coal company falsified samples to distort the amount of coal dust present in its mines is only one of the many challenges we will have to overcome to make your case a success. The first challenge may be determining which mining company was responsible, as coal miners often work in several mines throughout their careers.
Perhaps one mine was continually cited for extensive coal dust and others were not. Our investigation goes much deeper than that. Using our knowledge of the coal seams mined in our area, roof and rib composition, and many other relevant factors, we put our experience to work to thoroughly and extensively investigate your circumstances. Our knowledge of the industry plays a critical role in conducting successful investigations and building strong black lung disease claims.
We work on a contingent fee basis. We do not get paid unless you do.
What Causes Simple Coal Worker’s Pneumoconiosis (CWP)?
Simple CWP develops over time from the cumulative effect of continually inhaling coal dust. A number of coal-related occupations can put you at risk for developing CWP. These include:
- Coal Mine Workers
- Coal Trimmers (those who load and store coal)
- Graphite Mine Workers
- Carbon Electrode Manufacturing Workers
- Carbon Black Manufacturing Workers
Simple CWP can progress over time to complicated CWP (otherwise known as massive pulmonary fibrosis, MPF). This is commonly caused by heavier coal dust exposure, and/or sustained coal dust exposure to the lungs over an extended period of time.
Symptoms of CWP are often difficult to notice during the onset of the disease. Chronic cough can develop due to the inhalation of coal dust, but this may be indicative of bronchitis as well. As the condition progresses, you may also experience shortness of breath, black sputum, dysfunction in the lungs and heart, and pulmonary hypertension. If you are a coal worker and you are experiencing any of these symptoms, see a medical professional as soon as possible, and contact us to review your legal options.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Black Lung Disease/CWP
Coal worker’s pneumoconiosis is diagnosed with a chest X-ray and an occupational history of the patient. If you are diagnosed with this condition, your doctor may also perform a lung function test to find out how far the disease has progressed. It is essential to present a full and complete occupational history to ensure a proper diagnosis. This will also assist your legal team in putting together your claim.
CWP can only be contracted through exposure to coal dust, so it is important to include all coal-related jobs you may have held. These may include summer jobs, jobs you held as a student, and other types of short-term employment. Even if you only had limited exposure to coal dust in your work history, CWP is still possible, especially if the mines you worked in had highly unsafe dust levels.
Respirators Do Not Prevent CWP/Black Lung Disease
Many coal companies have tried to address the issue of mine safety by providing respirators and similar equipment to their workers. By doing this, they hope to absolve themselves of having to take measures to bring the air quality in the mines to proper safety levels. Not only have these devices not made coal workers safer; in many cases, they have made the situation worse.
For one thing, wearing respirators inside a hot, stuffy mine for 10-12 hours a day can be very uncomfortable. Worse yet, some of these respirators have been shown to be defective by clogging up with dust, thus heightening the worker’s exposure to harmful substances and increasing the chances they will develop CWP.
Another problem is the heat inside the mine, which intensifies as you are cutting rock and performing similar activities. The heat in the mines has been known to burn through the respirators, making them more unsafe for miners.
Airstream helmets are slightly better than respirators, but they are still highly flawed. They are noisy, bulky, and many workers have complained that they make it more difficult to see while inside dark mines. Many of these helmets are also very cheaply made and tend to accumulate dust, which again makes it more unsafe for the miners.
The bottom line is that, whether mine safety equipment helps or not, it is no substitute for maintaining compliance with federal dust exposure limits. Coal companies have a legal responsibility to comply with all federal, state and local laws and regulations, and create a safe work environment for their employees.
In addition, these companies should carefully examine the equipment they are providing their employees, because much of it has been shown to be defective. If you believe you may have used defective respirators or other defective mine safety equipment, get in touch with us right away for a free evaluation of your case.
Free Initial Consultation with an Injury Attorney in Charleston
Bailey, Javins and Carter, L.C., has decided as a law firm that what is happening to coal miners is unforgivable. We understand the physical, emotional and financial struggles coal miners and their families face when dealing with this condition, and we are committed to obtaining the just compensation you deserve. If you believe you have a state or federal black lung claim, please contact us, we are actively reviewing and taking cases. Our experienced and knowledgeable black lung attorneys stand ready to support your claim. View our resources page to learn more.
Contact Bailey, Javins and Carter, L.C. to schedule a free initial consultation about black lung disease/simple coal worker’s pneumoconiosis (CWP).