What if You Lost Your Hearing Due to a Workplace Injury?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hearing loss is the most prevalent work-related injury in America. Workers’ compensation payouts often cover work-related hearing loss. Mining, construction, and industrial employees are the most vulnerable to occupational hearing loss.
To claim workers’ compensation, you must demonstrate that your hearing loss was caused by your job (and not other non-occupational factors). Hearing loss is frequently caused by ongoing or cumulative noise exposure rather than by a single mishap.
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance program. Failure to utilize ear protection is not a defense in most states. However, some states lower workers’ benefits if they do not wear protective gear.
Under workers’ compensation law, you are entitled to reasonable and necessary medical treatment for your hearing loss. This includes doctor’s appointments, diagnostic testing, hearing aids, and other necessary care. In some places, you will be covered for your hearing-related medical expenses for the rest of your life.
If your hearing loss prohibits you from working, you may be eligible for wage loss or disability benefits. The calculation of wage loss benefits varies by state. They are usually two-thirds of your typical weekly wage, although there may be a minimum or maximum benefit amount. If you meet your state’s standards, you may be eligible for lifelong wage loss benefits.
Finally, if your hearing loss is work-related, you may be eligible for vocational aid (such as job retraining). The majority of states provide vocational rehabilitation to disabled workers. Job training, coaching, and job search aid may all be part of vocational rehabilitation.
What About Hearing Loss Caused by Factors Other than Work?
There are also personal harm claims based on hearing loss. These cases involve neglect that results in physical ear trauma. Suppose your hearing was impaired due to airbag deployment, sudden loud noises (such as explosions caused by defective products or reckless behavior), head trauma, product responsibility for poor hearing protection, or medical negligence. In that case, you may have a personal injury claim.
In addition, lawsuits have been filed charging culpability for unreasonably loud concerts, rallies, and other public activities. These entertainment-related cases have had different degrees of success.
A personal injury lawsuit, including hearing loss, on the other hand, may be more difficult to win.
Personal injury claims must include evidence of carelessness or liability, whereas workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. Furthermore, the defendant may use several defenses, including the assumption of risk, contributory or comparative negligence (for example, failing to wear ear protection), and causation (alleging that other factors caused the hearing loss).
Call a personal injury lawyer if you need assistance determining the strength of your hearing loss claim.
What Kinds of Damages Will Be Awarded?
Again, your damages may differ based on whether your claim is work-related or not. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system that provides specified medical treatment, salary loss compensation, and vocational benefits (like job retraining).
In a workers’ compensation case, you cannot be compensated for your pain and suffering.
If your job did not cause your hearing loss, you might be able to claim economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
The severity of your injuries, the expense of your medical care, your ability to return to work, and the strength of your responsibility claim will all influence the amount of money you receive in damages.
What Workers’ Compensation Benefits Are Available?
Workers’ compensation payouts often include the following:
- Income replacement
- Medical costs
If you are permanently unable to work, you can get a long-term or lump-sum pension.
While you are unable to work, you will get a temporary disability pension.
Workers’ Compensation Requirements
The following are workers’ compensation requirements:
- You must be a legitimate employee of your company (i.e., not an independent contractor)
- Your injuries must be work-related.
How Does a Person with Hearing Loss Qualify for Workers’ Compensation?
The determination of the cause of on-the-job hearing loss is a difficult task.
While there is a clearly defined problem in certain circumstances (e.g., head injury or acoustic trauma from exposure to a sudden excessively loud sound), in most cases, hearing loss occurs over time from sustained exposure to dangerous noise levels.
As a result of this, people frequently make claims years after the occurrence of the real injury.
Untangling which employer is liable might be difficult for people who have had multiple jobs at multiple organizations.
Workers’ Compensation Claim Processing
To collect workers’ compensation, you must go through numerous stages. You must also:
- Report your injury to your employer as soon as possible. Some states mandate notification within 2-30 days of the injury. If an accident or disease occurs as a result of your employment, you must disclose it as soon as you understand it is the result of your work.
- Seek medical attention and follow the doctor’s orders.
- Make a claim with your employer’s insurance company. Your employer is required to offer insurance claim forms.
- Throughout the process, keep all copies of papers.
Who Isn’t Protected by Workers’ Compensation?
Several types of employees are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Employees who are not covered by workers’ compensation include:
- Owners of businesses
- Independent contractors
- Federal employees (as defined by the state plan)
- Domestic workers in private residences
- Farm laborers
- Maritime employees
- Employees of railroads
- Volunteers without pay
It should be noted that workers’ compensation regulations differ from state to state. California workers’ compensation regulations, for example, may differ from those in other states.
Hearing Impairment and Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Hearing loss is distinct from many other types of workers’ compensation claims. It’s a one-of-a-kind tiny niche that doesn’t quite operate along the lines of other injuries claims adjusters encounter.
In the case of other injuries, the goal is to attain “maximum medical improvement” through treatment. That is, all therapy alternatives have been explored.
However, regarding treatment and potential improvement, hearing is not the same as a back ailment. You never get your hearing back. Therefore, the goal is to give you the long-term usage tools required to boost your hearing levels rather than to improve the underlying medical problem.
Benefits differ greatly from state to state. In Pennsylvania, for example, if you have permanent hearing loss, you can receive 66.66 percent of your salary for a set number of weeks based on the degree of your hearing loss. Most states have a schedule that determines how lost wages are covered due to the injury.
Is Your Work Environment Secure?
Your company should take workplace hearing conditions seriously. The Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration establishes appropriate noise levels and hearing conservation programs (OSHA).
In addition to the danger of employee injury, safety infractions can be costly for companies.
Should I Consult a Hearing Loss Attorney?
Yes. A workers’ compensation lawyer can assist you in evaluating your claim and guiding you through the claims procedure.
Hearing loss claims may require a thorough examination of medical and technical data, as well as expert witnesses and independent medical examiners. A lawyer can help you create and prepare your claim for trial.