Experienced West Virginia Progressive Massive Fibrosis (PMF) Attorneys
Black lung disease/coal worker’s pneumoconiosis (CWP) can be broken down into two forms, both the result of long-term exposure to large amounts of coal dust:
- Simple Coal Worker’s Pneumoconiosis
- Complicated Coal Worker’s Pneumoconiosis
Complicated CWP is also known as progressive massive fibrosis (PMF). This condition develops over years and it is accompanied by extensive scarring throughout the lung tissue and central necrosis that can reach up to 10 centimeters in diameter. Lung functions for victims of complicated CWP are typically compromised. Symptoms are far more severe than a cough. When complicated CWP occurs alongside rheumatoid arthritis, the combination of serious medical conditions is referred to as Caplan’s Syndrome. This condition further diminishes one’s quality of life and puts a greater physical, emotional, and financial strain on the coal worker and his/her family.
Serious Representation for Serious Medical Conditions
Since 1970, the experienced progressive massive fibrosis lawyers at Bailey, Javins & Carter, L.C., have earned a reputation for standing up for the rights of West Virginia coal miners who have suffered from serious medical conditions. We conduct thorough investigations to find out who was to blame and gather evidence to hold the coal company fully accountable for allowing an illegally high amount of coal dust to cause PMF or Caplan’s syndrome. Having handled many of these cases, we know the tactics that our opponents will use to avoid having to pay compensation. We know how to overcome these tactics and get injured coal miners the recovery they need and deserve.
We work on a contingency basis. We don’t get paid unless you do.
How Does CWP Develop?
Coal worker’s pneumoconiosis (CWP) develops from the inhalation and accumulation of coal dust in the lungs. This condition is also commonly referred to as black lung disease, because it causes the lungs to become discolored, turning from pink to black and becoming scarred and shriveled. CWP is common among several types of coal industry workers, including:
- Coal Miners
- Coal Trimmers
- Graphite Mine Workers
- Carbon Electrode Manufacturing Workers
- Carbon Black Manufacturing Workers
Simple CWP can develop from working in just one mine with unsafe levels of coal dust. If workers continue to be exposed to coal dust over a sustained period of time, the inhaled dust progressively builds up and resides in the lungs. The dust buildup makes it nearly impossible to excrete it from the lungs, which leads to the more serious form of this condition; complicated CWP.
Symptoms of CWP can be difficult to detect at first. For many, it starts with a chronic cough that can be mistaken for a common cold or dust-induced bronchitis. As the condition progresses from simple CWP to progressive massive fibrosis, additional symptoms begin to develop. These include:
- Shortness of Breath
- Black Mucus (Sputum)
- Fibrosis in the Lungs
- Progressive Hypertension
- Heart Issues
There is no known treatment for complicated CWP. The symptoms can be somewhat managed, but once a coal worker develops this condition, they will likely have to deal with it the rest of their lives. This is why coal companies allowing their workers to be exposed to unsafe levels of coal dust is so egregious, and why we are committed to ensuring that those who have been harmed by the recklessness and negligence of their employers receive justice.
How is CWP Diagnosed?
If you suspect that you may have simple or complicated CWP, it is important to check with a medical professional as soon as possible. During the examination, a chest X-Ray is performed, and a lung function test may also be administered to determine the level of damage in your lungs. You will also be asked about your occupational history. CWP is contracted through ongoing exposure to coal dust, so it is important to list any and all coal-related positions you have held. These may include temporary jobs, summer jobs, and/or jobs in the coal industry you held as a student.
Serious Black Lung Disease Cases are on the Rise
In recent years, there has been a sharp increase in cases of complicated CWP, particularly here in West Virginia and neighboring Appalachian states. This is due in part to a failure by lawmakers and regulators to enact better safety standards that have been recommended by coal worker advocates. Another reason for the increase is that in many of these mines, the workers are digging into thinner seams and cutting deeper into the rock to get at the coal. This naturally exposes workers to higher levels of dust as they get deeper into the mine.
Many coal companies provide respirators and other types of mine safety equipment to try to address safety concerns. Sadly, this appears to have made the problem worse. Respirators are very uncomfortable for workers who spend all day in the mine. In addition, many of these products have turned out to be defective as documents show that despite claims by the manufacturers that the respirators protected against respirable particles of mine dust, they, in fact, did not.
Rather than acting responsibly and ensuring that the miners were working in safe conditions, the coal companies used respirators as a quick fix. Miners believed that these respirators were protecting them and went into the mines with a false sense of security believing they were safe. Had the coal companies done what they were supposed to do and put their workers first, this spike in complicated CWP cases could have easily been prevented.
Free Initial Consultation with a Coal Mining Lung Disease Attorney
At Bailey, Javins & Carter, L.C., we understand the toll complicated CWP takes on you and your family. With mounting medical bills, severe discomfort and increased difficulty providing for your household, it becomes a major struggle to keep your head above water. In fact, in its most progressed stage, progressive massive fibrosis sufferers often have to fight for every breath they take.
For nearly five decades, we have been aggressive advocates for coal workers who have been victims of unsafe working conditions. We know the games coal companies play to avoid responsibility, and we know what it takes to prevail against their high-priced attorneys and secure justice for our clients. If you or a loved one suffers from complicated CWP, contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our skilled PMF attorneys.