If you work in an environment where noise levels are high or as part of your job you operate noisy machinery and you do so constantly throughout a working day, you could be at risk of developing noise induced hearing loss which is also referred to as NIHL which is a medical term that describes a variety of hearing problems. You could develop a hearing issue over time if you work in a noisy environment but it could also occur because you were subjected to a very loud noise that occurred near you.
To find out more about noise induced hearing loss and how you could be entitled to file for compensation if you suffer from NIHL, please read on.
- What is Noise Induced Hearing Loss?
- NIHL is Among the Most Reported Hearing Issues Regarding Adult-onset Deafness
- Who Is Most at Risk of Developing NIHL in the Workplace?
- What Is the Time Limit to Making a Noise Induced Hearing Loss Claim?
- Does an Employer Have a Duty Towards Me in the Workplace?
- Do I Have Worker’s Rights if I Develop NIHL at Work?
- Would I Lose My Job For Making a Noise Induced Hearing Loss Claim Against My Employer?
- My Employer Is No Longer Trading, Can I File a Noise Induced Hearing Loss Claim?
- What Level of Noise Induced Hearing Loss Could I Receive?
- What Can I Include in My Noise Induced Hearing Loss Claim Against an Employer?
- What Advantage is There to Having Legal Representation When I File a Noise Induced Hearing Loss Claim?
- Would a No Win No Fee Solicitor Work on My Noise Induced Hearing Loss Claim?
- Informative Links
Noise induced hearing loss describes many types of hearing issues which are detailed below:
- Acoustic shock syndrome – a hearing condition caused by damage to an ear caused by an extremely intense noise close to an ear or because of exposure to high intensity sounds that are repetitive in nature
- Tinnitus – a hearing condition where an affected person experiences whistling, buzzing or ringing in either one or two ears
- Occupational deafness – a hearing condition caused by damage done to an inner ear which can result in partial or total deafness
Damage to your hearing would typically occur gradually and you may notice that sounds become muffled and distorted which as a consequence, makes it difficult to understand or hear what people are saying to you. If you suffer from noise induced hearing loss, it can lead to a serious loss of hearing when combined with ageing. Should this be the case, the chances are you would be obliged to wear a hearing aid so that you are able to carry out a normal conversation with another person whether in a work environment or at home.
The Health and Safety Executive published a report showing that about 18,000 people develop noise induced hearing loss each year. The studies established that when a person works in a noisy environment, it made their hearing issues that much worse. Because of this, there’s been a significant increase in the number of employees who seek compensation for having developed noise induced hearing loss in the workplace.
These claims account for around 75% of all industrial disease claims filed against employers who were deemed negligent in their duty to keep their employees safe from harm or injury in the workplace.
If you developed noise induced hearing loss because you were subjected to a sudden extremely high-intensity sound in the workplace or you constantly work in a loud environment, you should contact a solicitor at www.accidentclaims.co.uk who would assess whether you could be entitled to file a noise induced hearing loss claim for compensation against your employer.
There are certain jobs and industries that present more of a hazard to workers which includes employees developing noise induced hearing loss. If you work in an environment and the noise levels exceed 80dBA and you are constantly exposed to this type of noise, it could lead to you sustaining permanent damage to your hearing.
Examples of industries where employees are put more at risk of developing noise induced hearing loss are as follows:
- Car manufacturing
- Road drilling
There are, however, many more industries where employees suffer from NIHL. If you have developed the condition due to the environment you work in, you should contact a solicitor at www.accidentclaims.co.uk so they can assess your case before letting you know whether you have a strong claim against an employer who could be held liable.
If you developed NIHL because of the work you do, you would have 3 years to file a claim for compensation. With this said, the time limit would start as detailed below:
- 3 years from the date you suffered damage to your hearing because you were exposed to an extremely loud noise in the workplace
- 3 years from the date a medical professional or specialist diagnoses you as suffering from a hearing issue that can be linked to the work you do which is referred to in law as “date of knowledge”
If you contact a solicitor, they would organise an appointment with an audiologist which means that you would not have to produce a medical report carried out by another medical professional if you are considering making a noise induced hearing loss claim. The audiologist would establish if your hearing issue can be linked to the work you carry out or because of your age. The medical report produced by the audiologist would be used to base the level of noise induced hearing loss compensation you could be awarded.
It is always advisable to start a noise induced hearing loss claim against an employer who could be deemed negligent in their duty to keep you safe in the workplace as soon as you can. If there are just a few months remaining on the statutory 3 year deadline, you could find that a No Win No Fee solicitor would be reluctant to take on your case because gathering all the documents and evidence to support your case may take longer than the time left on the deadline.
All employers in the UK are bound by law to ensure that employees and other people have a safe environment to work in. An employer must make sure that you are protected any situation that may result in you suffering any sort of hearing impairment. The laws and legislation that protect you from sustaining damage to your hearing at work are as follows:
An employer must carry out regular risk assessments in the workplace to establish whether noise levels are acceptable. If the noise levels in a work environment are between 80 and 85 decibels, your employer must do the following:
- To make sure that quieter machinery/equipment is installed in the workplace
- To ensure that absorbent materials/sound barriers are installed in a work environment
- To ensure that you only work in a noisy work environment for a specific length of time
- To make sure that appropriate industry standard personal protective equipment – PPE – is readily available and this includes earplugs
If your employer chooses to ignore the law and other regulations and as a result you suffer damage to your hearing, it could entitle to seek compensation because your employer would be deemed negligent in their duty to keep you safe from harm at work.
Your worker’s rights are protected in the UK and as such should you develop a hearing issue because of the work you do and your employer did not ensure you were kept safe in the workplace, your worker’s rights would entitle you to do the following:
- Seek compensation by filing an accident at work claim against an employer who could be held responsible for the damage caused to your hearing
- Know that your job is secure if you file a noise induced hearing loss claim
If you believe that your employer is treating you unfairly or detrimentally because you file a noise induced hearing loss claim against them, you should contact a solicitor who would offer vital legal advice on whether you should file further court action against your employer. The reason being that your employer would be in breach of the law.
Your employer cannot sack you for seeking compensation from them and if they do, you should contact a solicitor straight away. You could be entitled to file an unfair dismissal claim against your employer if they did not have a “valid” reason for firing you other than the fact you filed a noise induced hearing loss claim against them.
You may still be able to file a noise induced hearing loss claim against your employer even if they have ceased trading. However, you would need to find out who your employer’s liability insurance provider was which you can do by contacting the Employer’s Liability Trading Office. If you need help, a solicitor would take on this task and once the information is received, would then enter into formal negotiations with the liability insurance provider to ensure that you receive an acceptable settlement.
Should the insurer dispute your claim and your employer’s business was dissolved, it may be necessary to reinstate the company via the Register of Companies which can be a complex legal procedure that is best left to a solicitor to do.
The amount of compensation you may be awarded in a successful noise induced hearing loss claim would depend on several things as detailed below:
- How severe your hearing loss is and the type of hearing damage you sustained
- Whether your overall health and well-being as well as your ability to work has been impacted
The more your hearing loss negatively impacts your life, the greater amount of noise induced hearing loss compensation you would receive whether your claim is heard by a judge in court or you are offered a settlement by the insurer beforehand.
You can include both your damages and losses in an noise induced hearing loss claim. These are detailed as follows:
- General damages – these are awarded in personal injury claims to compensate you for the distress, the pain and the suffering you had to endure through no fault of your own
- Special damages – these are awarded in personal injury claims to reimburse you for all the out of pocket expenses you had to pay out as a direct result of the injuries you suffered in the workplace through the negligence of a third party, in this instance it would be your employer
Special damages that are awarded in successful claims cover the following:
- Your loss of earnings and future earning capability
- Travel and medical costs which would include items like hearing aids, replacements and batteries
- The cost of specialist treatment that may be required if you have developed tinnitus. This could include the cost of counselling as well as “de-tinnitising amplifiers”
- The cost of sign language training
- The cost of adaptations to the home – this would include adapting alarm clocks, door-bells and telephones
When it comes to the general damages you may be awarded, these would be based on the Judicial College Guidelines. The amounts for various hearing loss conditions are detailed below:
- Mild tinnitus and hearing loss – the amount awarded could be between £3,000 and £7,000
- Moderate tinnitus and hearing loss – the amount awarded could be between £7,000 and £19,000
- Total deafness in both ears with tinnitus – the amount you may be awarded could be anything up to £70,000
The amounts indicated above are provided as a guideline to the level of compensation you may be awarded, but it is important to remember that all noise induced hearing loss claims are unique and as such, you may receive more or less that the amounts shown above.
What Advantage is There to Having Legal Representation When I File a Noise Induced Hearing Loss Claim?
Like most other accident at work claims, cases that involved noise induced hearing loss tend to be complex and it is far better to have the assistance of a legal expert when claiming compensation from an employer. One of the most important benefits of seeking advice from a solicitor is they would arrange for you to be examined by an independent medical professional and the report produced would be used to calculate the level of compensation you would be awarded. Other advantages that a solicitor would provide when filing a noise induced hearing loss claim would include but is not limited to the following:
- The initial consultation you have with the solicitor would be free of charge. It allows the solicitor the chance to determine whether you have a strong case against a negligent employer. You would be under no obligation to pursue your claim if you change your mind
- The solicitor would offer to represent you on a No Win No Fee basis once satisfied you have a strong claim because your employer failed in their “duty” to ensure you were kept safe in the workplace
- Personal injury lawyers are able to access legal libraries which means they can reference past similar cases when investigating your claim
- Solicitors have the necessary expertise when communicating with employers and liability insurers
- You would be provided with vital advice regarding the process of collecting all the necessary information and evidence required to support your claim
- A solicitor would work hard when negotiating the noise induced hearing loss compensation you are awarded to ensure the amount is acceptable
- Should your claim be complex, a solicitor would request that you receive “interim payments” until a final settlement is reached
Solicitors are well aware of the pre-action protocols that must be respected and that the 3 year time limit must be adhered to when filing a noise induced hearing loss claim. They have the necessary legal expertise required which means they can speed up what is often a complicated procedure which ultimately means that a final settlement can be reached sooner rather than later.
As previously mentioned, a solicitor would first need to establish whether you have a valid case against an employer who could be deemed responsible for the fact you developed noise induced hearing loss in the workplace. Once the solicitor has established that you have, they would offer you No Win No Fee terms when representing you. This would involve signing a CFA – a Conditional Fee Agreement – which is a contract between the solicitor and you that sets out the terms and conditions as well as the work the solicitor would do for you.
You would not have to pay the solicitor an upfront fee when you enter into a No Win No Fee agreement with them. The only time you have to pay for the legal representation the solicitor provides is when you are awarded the noise induced hearing loss compensation you seek and the amount which is referred to as a “success fee” is taken from the money you receive.
Should for any reason, your noise induced hearing loss claim is unsuccessful, the “success fee” would not be payable because the solicitor agreed to represent you on a No Win No Fee basis. In short, the solicitor agreed to waive the fee if your noise induced hearing loss claim is unsuccessful.
If you developed NIHL because of the work you do and you would like more information on hearing issues, please follow the link provided below:
If you would like more information on the regulations relating to personal protective equipment, please click on the link provided below:
To find out more about the law pertaining to employer’s liability insurance, please follow the link below: