Late last week, the Supreme Court of Kentucky ruled that the screening system used to detemine if a miner qualified for workers’ comp is actually violating the miners’ constitutional rights. In particular, miners must jump through many hoops to qualify for compensation, and the court said this practice unduly prejudices the miners’ cases.
According to an article on SurfKY News Group (surfky.com), Kentucky law requires that an inventory of tests to prove if compensation is warranted. But the Supreme Court ruled that those suffering from black lung disease were being denied their equal protection under the law because the tests are not justifiable. Other workers in other fields are not required to undergo the same set of tests for determining their eligibility for workers’ comp. Justice Will T. Scott noted that “such an irrational system proffers disparate treatment of miners. That disparate treatment is inherently discriminative.”
As a result of the ruling, miners’ families who are coping with this debilitating disease can now pursue reasonable claims for workers’ compensation.
In 2009, Kentucky produced approximately 110 million tons of coal, and is regularly in the top three producers of coal in the United States.
We applaud the Supreme Court of Kentucky for ruling in favor of the miners. As proud citizens of the coal mining region here in Pennsylvania, we know all too well the effects of black lung disease on hard-working coal miners and their families. We also know all too well the lengths to which the large coal companies will go to avoid compensating miners who have been injured on the job. If you’re a coal miner who has been diagnosed with black lung disease, you may have a case. Contact the workers’ comp attorneys at Michael J. O’Connor & Associates for a free review of your case.