State and Federal Black Lung
As part of its overall state workers’ compensation litigation practice, Fogle Keller Walker also handles all aspects of state black lung litigation. This includes not only a proper handling of both the procedural and medical issues surrounding state black lung litigation, but also to address the effect of claims made in combination with federal black lung litigation.
At Fogle Keller Walker, federal black lung litigation is a substantial portion of our insurance defense practice. Our goal is to provide competent and efficient defense of claims at all levels of litigation. This practice group has extensive experience in litigating federal black lung claims on behalf of coal mining companies and with its superior knowledge of all aspects of both surface and underground coal mining practices and their operations, the firm is able to defend each claim with a tremendous advantage. Successful defense strategies depend on an accurate and updated understanding of the regulations and case law. Our work in this important area has allowed us to stay informed about and involved in changes to the federal black lung law. Our experience in serving the diverse needs of large and small employers has equipped us to respond immediately to client needs and provide solutions to every kind of federal black lung problem.
We frequently litigate these federal black lung issues:
- Identification of proper responsible operators
- Successor liability
- Length of coal mine employment
- Diagnosis of black lung
- Assessment of respiratory disability
- Ability to perform usual coal mine employment or comparable employment
- Identification of noncompensable disabling conditions
- Determinations of dependency
- Material changes in medical condition
Our team of highly experienced, nationally recognized attorneys, represent coal mine operators and their insurers and provide sophisticated representation in a very complicated regulatory system, while at the same time recognizing the need for use of well trained and experienced paralegals for discovery and investigation in order to keep legal costs down. Because federal black lung benefits are only paid when an individual is totally disabled or has died as a result of black lung, the potential financial impact of paying lifetime benefits to the miner or his widow can be significant. Accordingly, proper identification of relevant issues and a thorough development of evidence supporting the employer’s position on those issues is critical. This process can be quite labor intensive, but allocating talented paralegal resources to perform discovery and investigations can translate into significant savings on legal expenses.
We have handled every aspect of Federal Black Lung claims for over 20 years, including litigation before district directors, through formal hearings before administrative law judges, as well as the critical and complex appellate work before the Benefits Review Board and the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.