Acoustic Shock Compensation Claims

If you have been affected by acoustic shock we can help.

The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered acoustic shock and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.

In our guide to claiming acoustic shock compensation:

Introduction

Acoustic shock is a recognised industrial injury. Acoustic shock can be caused by exposure to a short, unexpected, high frequency, high intensity sound, such as a gunshot or audio feedback.

Call centre staff are susceptible because of their high and prolonged use of headsets. According to UNISON, there are currently over 1 million individuals working in this industry in the UK - a significant amount of people potentially at risk.

If a person has suffered acoustic shock in such an environment, the may be entitled to claim compensation if the correct steps were not taken to prevent it.

The symptoms of acoustic shock?

Acoustic shock occurs when a trigger noise, such as feedback oscillation, fax or signalling or even a shout down the line, causes a strong muscle contraction in the middle ear which leads to a tearing of the inner membrane.

Those who have been affected by acoustic shock will understand the impact it has. Not only can it lead to permanent tinnitus and/or hearing loss symptoms (not measurable with audiometric testing), but it has also been recognised as bringing on a range of other unwelcome symptoms, including:

  • Ear pain
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Jaw and neck pain
  • A hollow feeling or fluttering noises in the ear
  • Poor balance
  • Anxiety
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Fatigue

Such symptoms can be hugely detrimental to a person's quality of life - for example leading to poor performance at work and long term depression. The compensation sum should reflect the severity of these effects.

Tackling acoustic shock

Acoustic shock is a relatively new industrial accident phenomenon, and, as such, its prevention has been something employers have had to integrate into their current working systems.

Since 1991, major manufacturers of headsets have incorporated acoustic limiter into the electronics of many headsets. These ensure that any type of noise is above the legal limit (118 decibels) is not transmitted.

In 2004, the Acoustic Safety Programme (ASP) was set up to help businesses and call centre operators protect their staff from the causes and symptoms of noise interference and acoustic shock delivered via telephone and headset systems.

However, despite these initiatives, many cases of acoustic shock as still reported each year.

Who is liable in acoustic shock compensation claims?

If the condition occurs in a call centre, acoustic shock liability would lie with the call centre operator. Acoustic shock is not referred to specifically in current legislation. However, employers are legally bound to provide staff with a safe working environment. This includes protecting them, as is reasonably practical, from acoustic shock and training them on risks.

These requirements fall under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Noise at Work Regulations 2005, and interpreted through a range of Health Safety Executive (HSE) guidelines.

The Noise at Work Regulations 2005 stipulate that 118 decibels is the maximum noise that employees should be exposed to - the same limit used by headphone manufacturers. However, acoustic shock can occur below this level.

Because of this, employers should also take additional steps including encouraging staff to report incidents and keeping a record of these events to escalate to RIDDOR.

What are the chances of making a successful claim?

These are many successful incidences of this type of claim amongst call centre workers. As the legislation doesn't provide for the prevention of sounds below 118 decibels, cases often revolve around proving the employers lack of attention to the problem. A solicitor can help in gathering evidence to support this.

If an employee had reported an incident and subsequent symptoms to an employer and they failed to act, resulting in more long term damage such as anxiety and depression, it would be difficult to build a defence.

How did your injury occur?

The claims process that your solicitor follows will vary, depending on how the injury occurred:

No win, no fee, no risk

With a no win, no fee agreement (referred to as a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA') you can make an acoustic shock claim without the worry of upfront legal fees. If your acoustic shock claim is unsuccessful you won't have to pay any money to your solicitor.

Our no win, no fee guarantee

Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is no financial risk in making an acoustic shock claim, even if you don't win your claim. Read more about making a No win, no fee claim

What do I pay if I win my acoustic shock claim?

Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, only after your compensation is awarded. The solicitor's success fee can be up to 25%. You and your solicitor can agree the success fee before you start your claim.

What do I pay if I do not win my acoustic shock claim?

If your acoustic shock claim is not successful then you won't have to pay your solicitor any fees. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.

Can I get Legal Aid?

Legal aid is no longer available when making a personal injury claim, but a Conditional Fee Agreement (No Win, No Fee) can reduce the financial risks of making a claim.

How can Quittance help?

Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning injury claims.

If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open 8am to 9pm weekdays, 9am to 6pm on Saturday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.

Call us FREE 0800 376 1001 or arrange a callback:

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Acoustic shock FAQ's

Can I claim for someone else?

Yes. In certain circumstances, it is possible to claim compensation on behalf of another person in the capacity of a 'litigation friend'.

If an injured person is either too young or vulnerable, too injured or otherwise unable to claim on their own behalf, their litigation friend can handle the claim process on behalf of the injured person.

The litigation friend will be responsible for communicating with the solicitors, and for making decisions in respect of the claim.

Read more about claiming on behalf of another person.

Can I claim if I was partly responsible for an accident?

You may still be able to claim compensation even if you contributed to your accident or to your injuries.

However, if you were partly to blame (known as contributory negligence), your compensation may be reduced and it may be more difficult to prove liability.

Read more about claiming compensation if you were partly responsible for an accident.

How long do I have to make an acoustic shock claim?

In general, you have a time limit of up to 3 years from the date of the acoustic shock to make an injury claim.

The last date you can make a claim is known as the claim limitation date - after which your acoustic shock claim becomes 'statute barred'.

Can I claim for an acoustic shock after 3 years?

Possibly. The general rule for adults is that a claim must be started within three years.

However, the three-year countdown starts on the day you learned of your injury or illness. This will usually be the date of the accident, but could be the date your doctor gave you a diagnosis.

If you were injured as a child, you do have up until your 21st birthday to make a claim.

There other circumstances that can also impact the limitation date. Call us now on 0800 376 1001 to find out if you are still able to claim acoustic shock compensation.

In reality, there are a number of factors that can affect whether an acoustic shock claim will be taken on by a solicitor.

Calculate your claim limitation date

Will I have to go to court?

Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by the solicitor panel are settled out of court.

Only a very small percentage (approx. 5%) of personal injury claims go to court. Generally, only very complex cases, or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court.

Cases that do ultimately go to court are held in front of a judge, not a jury.

Read more: Will my injury claim go to court and what if it does?

Will I have to go to a solicitor's office?

No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. As with most professional services, it is no longer necessary to meet face to face with your solicitor. Personal injury claims are dealt with via email, post and telephone.

Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.

Read more: Will I have to visit a solicitor's office?

Can I get an early compensation payment?

If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.

An interim payment is a partial settlement of your claim which is paid before your claim is concluded. The amount you receive in interim payments would then be deducted from your final compensation settlement or award.

Read more about interim compensation payments.

Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor

Author:
Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor