What is noise-induced hearing loss?
In the course of everyday life we are of course bombarded with all sorts of sounds, most of which do not damage our hearing. However, some loud, sudden sounds and some loud and long-lasting sounds can damage the inner ear, causing Noise-Induced Hearing Loss. If you have suffered a reduction in your hearing which was not your fault, you may have a Noise-Induced Hearing Loss claim.
You may notice that you have suffered Noise-Induced Hearing Loss immediately after an exposure to noise, but it is more likely that you will notice the reduction in your hearing gradually over a period of time. Often it is struggling to hear in a noisy room, or the need to turn the television up louder, that makes people realise that they have suffered Noise-Induced Hearing Loss. Frequently a loved one will tell you that your hearing is not as good as it once was.
The Audiogram and a Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Claim
An audiogram is likely to provide a clear indication as to whether you have suffered from Noise-Induced Hearing Loss, caused by noise exposure, rather than by, say, old age, disease or infection.
An audiologist is likely to be able to tell you quickly whether the audiogram indicates Noise-Induced Hearing Loss and will often suggest that you seek legal representation. If you have a diagnosis of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss then you should consider whether you should make a claim so that the compensation – including the costs of a lifetime supply of the most up-to-date hearing aids – will be paid for by the negligent party’s insurance, rather than by the State. You must act very quickly if you want to pursue a claim, because time limits are tight.
How Long Do You Have To Bring a Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Claim?
Limitation (how long you have to bring a claim – usually three years unless you were a child at the time of an accident or exposure) is nearly always a problem with Noise-Induced Hearing Loss cases. Normally, the injured person who was exposed to too much noise at work, did so more than three years before they contact a specialist personal injury solicitor. Therefore, a hearing loss solicitor is likely to need to act very quickly and will need to argue (if it is true) that the injured person only realised, within three years of court proceedings of being issued, that their work caused their hearing loss i.e. their date of knowledge of the connection between work and hearing loss occurred much later than the exposure.
In addition, a hearing loss solicitor can ask a court for discretion to allow a claim, which might appear to be outside of limitation, to proceed. It is therefore essential that if you seek legal advice from a solicitor not a paralegal.
It is therefore of paramount importance that if you think that you have a Noise-Induced Hearing Loss claim that you contact a personal injury solicitor with the correct level of expertise as soon as possible. If the claim may appear out of time to an injured person, a specialist solicitor should be able to explain if a court would still accept the claim.
How much is a Noise-Induced Hearing Loss claim worth?
Compensation is broadly split into general damages and special damages. General damages is compensation for pain, suffering and loss of amenity; whereas special damages compensates an injured person in relation to their financial losses, care and assistance, and any future losses.
In respect of general damages for hearing loss claims, a solicitor (not a paralegal) needs to take into account a number of factors including: the impact on their client’s everyday life; the impact upon their client’s work; and whether, by wearing a hearing aid, the hearing can be improved and by how much.
Once a specialist solicitor (not a paralegal) has obtained an independent medical report from a Consultant ENT expert, then the solicitor should consider the Judicial College Guidelines, which sets out brackets for Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Compensation. In addition, the solicitor (not an untrained paralegal) should consider case law to see how much courts have awarded for similar levels of Noise-Induced Hearing loss. It is relatively straightforward for a competent solicitor to value the general damages for a hearing loss claim.
In respect of special damages – compensation for financial losses and care and assistance – it is also relatively straightforward for a solicitor to calculate these losses. A specialist hearing loss solicitor (not a paralegal) should also, based upon the medical evidence, factor-in a lifetime supply of the most up-to-date hearing aids. This can add considerable value to the claim.
Does It Matter If The Employer Has Shut Down?
It is very common that in Noise-Induced Hearing Loss claims the exposure to noise which caused the hearing loss occurred a long time ago. Often the employers have closed down.
In such a case, all is not lost. A specialist hearing loss solicitor should have expertise in tracing the correct insurers, because the solicitor only needs to locate the insurers who insured the company during the period of exposure and, usually, there are records of which insurer insured an employer for a particular period of time.
When attempting to locate the correct insurers, a solicitor with expertise in hearing loss claims should request a schedule of their client’s employers from HMRC in order to obtain the precise legal title of an employer. In addition, a solicitor should also make a check using the Employers Liability Tracing Office. If these searches do not provide the correct insurers, then, because many now-closed employers have been sued for Noise-Induced Hearing Loss before, a solicitor can ask their colleagues in other firms whether they know the correct insurers.
Hearing loss claims do not usually fail because an insurance company cannot be traced.
All our hearing loss claims are run under No Win, No Fee agreements, which provide peace of mind to our clients. To arrange a free, no-obligation appointment, either in person or over the telephone, please call us on 01423 788 538.