How to make a claim for hearing loss or industrial deafness
At Stephensons we have a dedicated team of personal injury lawyers with specialist experience in dealing with industrial disease claims including hearing loss and tinnitus cases. If you feel you have been exposed to excessive noise in your working environment and you have now developed hearing loss, deafness or tinnitus as a direct result or you feel that your employer has failed to implement the appropriate safety procedures to reduce the noise you are exposed to, contact us on 0203 816 0065 for advice. If you find talking on a telephone difficult then please contact us by using our online enquiry form.
What are the symptoms of noise induced hearing loss and tinnitus?
The symptoms of hearing loss are as follows:
- A medical expert advises you that you would benefit from hearing aids a lot earlier than otherwise would have been the case.
- Not being able to hear conversations when there is background noise and having to ask for people to repeat themselves
- Turning the television up louder than your family think is necessary
- Struggling to hear the telephone or hold conversations on the telephone
- Struggling to hear the doorbell ringing
Tinnitus can sound like:
You may hear these noises in one or both of your ears. They may be present all of the time or just some of the time.
Deafness can be made even worse for some people if they suffer from tinnitus also. The continuous ringing and buzzing they hear in the ears or at odd times, can be very disturbing especially if it affects their sleep. In summary, deafness deprives many sufferers from enjoying a normal and healthy life.
What are my employer’s responsibilities?
Your employer has a duty to provide a safe working environment. However, until recently, many employers have failed to fully appreciate the medical problems associated with noise, nor have they taken sufficient steps to prevent workers from being exposed to it. As a result, many employees have developed deafness and/or tinnitus.
Am I at risk from noise?
Your risk of hearing loss will depend on how loud the noise is and how long you are exposed to it. If you answer ‘yes’ to some or all of the following, workplace noise could be affecting your health:
- Are you conscious of the noise in your workplace?
- Do you have to raise your voice to be heard by colleagues?
- Are heavy machines used in your workplace?
- Is sudden, but loud, noise a feature of your work – such as hammering or explosions?
Is there a cure for noise induced hearing loss and industrial deafness?
Once it has occurred, hearing loss and deafness is unfortunately permanent. If anything, it is likely to deteriorate further over time. If you suspect that you have hearing difficulties then we urge you to visit your GP as soon as possible. If you are diagnosed with hearing loss or tinnitus which you suspect is as a result of your exposure to excessive noise at work then you should seek legal advice without delay.
Is there a cure for tinnitus?
Unfortunately, tinnitus cannot be cured but over time some people find that it is less noticeable. There are treatments and therapies that are available to help people with tinnitus and your GP or a medical expert will be able to advise you in more detail regarding what option is best for you.
How can I protect myself from getting noise induced hearing loss or industrial deafness?
Prevention is key and there are many steps you can take to protect yourself from noise in the workplace. These include wearing ear protection, asking your employer to move you away from noisy machinery or at least give you breaks from it, and ensuring you undertake regular hearing tests.
How much time do I have to make a claim for hearing loss/industrial deafness/tinnitus?
All types of personal injury claims have a limitation period. This means that there is a set period of time in which a person can bring a claim to court. The general rule is that you have three years from the date of your injury within which to issue a claim but there are some exceptions. In hearing loss/industrial deafness/tinnitus cases it is often the case that the injury has developed over a period of time and therefore the limitation period starts from the date you knew or a reasonable person ought to have known that they had a hearing loss/industrial deafness/tinnitus and linked this to their employment. It can therefore be rather complications so it is essential you seek legal advice as soon as possible by contacting us today on 0203 816 0065 or by using our online enquiry form.
How can I fund a claim for hearing loss/industrial deafness/tinnitus?
In nearly all cases, and this is subject to our early assessment procedure, we are able to offer a conditional fee agreement (no win, no fee). There are however other means of funding, such as the existence of legal expense insurance, and we will be able to assist you in identifying at a very early stage, if this is available to you.
Recently settled noise induced hearing loss claim
We have recently settled a noise induced hearing loss claim after many years spent trying to persuade the defendant’s solicitors to budge from their weak denial on limitation grounds. Our client used to work as a machine operator at a wire mesh fencing manufacturer. The defendant’s solicitors argued that because our client’s hearing was tested at work, he was on notice that he was suffering from a hearing problem and so his claim was several years out of time.
Unluckily for them, we tracked down the occupational audiologist who confirmed the level of loss client had at the time was, in his words, “totally not noticeable.” We maintained it was only in recent years that client started to suffer from a significant injury (because admittedly the level of noise-related damage involved was relatively small) when the effects of noise damage combined with his normal age-related losses.
Indeed, earlier in the case the defendant’s solicitors also denied the claim on the basis the injury was negligible or de minimis, an argument often raised. In our view they were trying to have their cake and eat it by advancing both of these arguments, and we eventually managed to settle just before trial.