I worked in coal mining for a significant portion of my working life, although it has been some time since I left I have now developed breathing difficulties and I fear I may have the black lung. Is it possible to still make a claim for contracting pneumoconiosis at work?
You may be entitled to claim for contracting pneumoconiosis at work if you can demonstrate that the condition you have sustained is due to negligence on behalf of your employer.
Your employer has a duty of care to provide staff with safe working conditions, if they have failed to do so by not providing adequate working conditions or the necessary equipment to staff they have been negligent.
Pneumoconiosis is a condition that can take years to develop, it is usually caused by exposure to coal dust over a prolonged period of time. While there is a time limit of three years under UK law to make a compensation claim for contracting pneumoconiosis at work, this does not take effect until the day you become aware of your injury, this date is known in legal terms as ‘the date of knowledge’.
However compensation claims can take a significant amount of time to process which is why you should not delay with initiating your claim once you become aware of your condition. The process can be quite complex and as the business may no longer be operating you are advised to contact a personal injury claims solicitor who will be able to help locate your former employer and their previous insurance company and advise you on the best course of action to take regarding your claim for contracting pneumoconiosis at work.
You must have your condition assessed by a medical professional as you will not be able to successfully claim compensation for pneumoconiosis if you have not been diagnosed with it. It may also be worthwhile contacting any employees who worked there with you, to establish if they have suffered any respiratory illnesses; their testimonies could be used to substantiate your claim for compensation.
It is important to remember though that no two compensation claims are the same and the amount of compensation awarded differs between cases due to external factors such as the age of the claimant, their health prior to the development of the condition and the impact the condition has on their day-to-day life. A personal injury claims solicitor will take all these factors into account when evaluating your claim for contracting pneumoconiosis at work and will be able to give you the potential value of your compensation claim and whether it is worth your while pursuing it.