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Black Lung claims could get help from new legislation measure

In our society, people work to make money so that they can support themselves and their families. But if the job is particularly dangerous or comes with the risk of developing an occupational disease, an unfortunate catch-22 is created. A person may no longer be able to work because of a work-related injury or illness but may need to in order to provide financial support for their family.

This is where workers' compensation benefits are supposed to fit into the picture. These benefits are supposed to provide financial assistance to a person who has been injured on the job or has contracted a work-related disease. This financial assistance helps injured workers avoid making the difficult decision between trying to recover or continue to work after suffering an injury.

In a majority of cases, seeking compensation can be a frustrating process pitting an injured worker against their employer. Most times, cases boil down to "he said, she said" arguments that force employees to prove that their injury or illness was because of their employer's negligence, not their own.

People who are suffering from Black Lung disease, also called pneumoconiosis, know this all too well because this particular disease can take years of exposure before it develops, meaning it can be difficult to prove that the disease is really work related and eligible for workers' compensation benefits.

With the help of new legislation though, workers with Black Lung disease may find it easier to file a claim and gain access to benefits. The new legislation will require both the employee and employer to disclose medical evidence, making it easier to not only prove or disapprove a claim but to undercover potentially false medical statements that could hinder a case.

If this legislation passes, it could open doors for other prolonged-exposure occupational diseases that encounter similar roadblocks during the claims process, making it easier for workers to gain access to the benefits they deserve.

Source: The Claims Journal, "New Legislation Introduced for Black Lung Victims," Frederic J. Frommer, Sept. 19, 2014

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