A guide to making a No Win No Fee industrial deafness claim
Recent figures by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimate that there are around 18,000 new cases of industrial deafness, also known as occupational deafness or Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL), diagnosed every year.
According to the data, the highest rates of industrial deafness occur in the extraction, construction, energy and manufacturing industries.
If a person has suffered industrial deafness due to their employer's negligence, the employee could be entitled to make a claim for compensation.
What is the claims process for industrial deafness compensation?
Getting a diagnosis
Industrial deafness is known as a 'latency' disease, meaning symptoms often only appear years or decades after the initial exposure or cause. For this reason, people may put the symptoms down to ageing, rather than their previous employment. Key indicators of industrial deafness include:
- Finding it hard to keep up with conversations
- Not being able to hear a conversation where there is background noise
- Struggling to use the telephone
- Having to turn the television volume up high
Establishing industrial deafness is the first step in any industrial disease compensation claim, and a solicitor can help arrange a medical examination to do this. Not only will they assess physical symptoms, but they will also ask questions regarding work history and exposure to noise.
Demonstrating the cause
Inadequate personal protective equipment is a common cause of industrial deafness. The medical report will be a key piece of evidence in determining the cause.
Once a report by a medical expert has been obtained, a solicitor will help establish that a particular employment and noise source was indeed the cause. Example cases include an engineer exposed to excessive noise over a long period of time and a demolition operative subjected to a sudden, extremely loud bang.
The Claimant's account of events can be supported by witness accounts as well as documentary evidence from employers.
Establishing legal responsibility
The next step is proving that an employer could have foreseen that industrial deafness or a related condition, such as tinnitus or acoustic shock syndrome, could have occurred. In addition, it must be shown that an employer was legally negligent in protecting the Claimant from the noise.
What are the legal duties of an employer?
Employers have a legal ?duty of care' to ensure they keep their employees safe from harm. General provisions for this are made in a number of health and safety laws and regulations, including the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
For industrial deafness specifically, there are much stricter controls in place than was the case in earlier decades.
The primary piece of legislation is the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005. The aim of the regulations is to ensure that workers' hearing is protected from excessive noise at work.
In order to comply, employers must carry out a thorough risk assessment of the noise in the work environment and who it affects. They must then put procedures in place to reduce the risks and comply with the law. This includes ensuring adequate controls are adopted to keep noise below or within the legal limit (80-85 decibels) - measures such as:
- Using quieter machinery
- Installing barriers and absorbent materials
- Shortening working periods
- Providing personal protective equipment (PPE) i.e. earplugs
Employers are also required to train staff on the risks, carry out regular monitoring and maintenance and provide health surveillance - monitoring workers' hearing ability.
How is liability decided?
An employer's actions should be ?reasonably practical' in proportion to risk. If the employer failed to identify the risks or employ appropriate control measures, they would be deemed negligent and therefore liable.
Employers are required to have employer's liability insurance in place to cover industry related injuries, such as NIHL. If the case is straightforward and the employer admits liability, claims can be settled outside the Courts, and a solicitor will work hard for this. If not, the Courts will make the decision based on the evidence of the case.
No Win, No Fee industrial deafness claims explained
A No Win, No Fee agreement, or CFA (Conditional Fee Agreement), forms the start of most claims.
The document sets out the service executed by the lawyer as well as a percentage-based "success fee" to be deducted from your total compensation once the claim is won.
Choosing a Quittance personal injury lawyer, you will be able to prioritise your recovery, knowing that you will never be out of pocket.
What to do next
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