A guide to hoise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) compensation claims
This easy-to-follow guide covers everything you need to know about making a successful noise-induced hearing loss compensation claim.
Noise induced hearing loss is an umbrella term that includes a number of different hearing conditions, including:
- Acoustic shock syndrome - damage to the ear caused either by a single intense "impulse" sound at close proximity, such as an explosion, or through repeated exposure to high-frequency, high-intensity sounds through a headset.
- Tinnitus - a ringing, buzzing or whistling sound in one or both ears.
- Occupational deafness - permanent cell damage to the inner ear that causes partial or complete deafness.
Damage typically occurs gradually.
Over time, sounds may become muffled or distorted, and it may become difficult to understand other people when they speak.
The damage from noise induced hearing loss, combined with ageing, can lead to hearing impairment so severe that hearing aids are necessary to magnify sounds so that the sufferer may communicate and engage in daily activities.
I have a strong claim - why won't a solicitor take it on?
Exposure to noise at work remains one of the biggest causes of adult-onset deafness.
Figures released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that an estimated 18,000 people have noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) that was caused, or made worse, by their work environment.
Hundreds of new claims for NIHL are made each year, accounting for around 75% of all industrial disease compensation claims against an employer.
Anyone who has suffered noise induced hearing loss as a result of their work may be able to make a claim for compensation.
Noise induced hearing loss occurs most commonly in people working in environments where the noise levels are over 80dBA.
Exposure to such high levels of noise over a long period can cause a permanent hearing impairment. The effects are usually irreversible.
Quittance's solicitors have helped workers who have suffered NIHL in a variety of industries, including:
- Car manufacturing
- Road drilling.
This list is not exhaustive. Any worker in any industry who has suffered a hearing impairment as a result of their working conditions may be eligible to claim compensation against their employer or former employer.
A claim must be brought within three years of:
- The date of the noise exposure that caused the hearing loss, or
- The date of discovering a hearing impairment linked to noise exposure. This is known as the date of knowledge.
The date of knowledge can refer to anything that might reasonably have been expected to lead the claimant to conclude that they had a hearing impairment caused by their working conditions. It is frequently the same date the claimant is informed of their diagnosis.
It is not necessary to have received a diagnosis of NIHL to make a claim, however. As an initial step, the injury lawyer will instruct an audiologist to conduct various hearing tests.
An audiogram will be able to show whether the hearing loss has been caused by noise or whether the hearing impairment is down to age or other factors. The medical report will be used as a basis for the compensation claim.
Employers have a duty of care to protect staff from noise induced hearing loss in the workplace.
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. However, 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.
To comply, employers must carry out a thorough risk assessment of the noise levels in the work environment. When noise reaches the legal limit of 80 to 85 decibels, the employer must take action to reduce the noise. Measures include:
- Using quieter machinery
- Installing sound barriers and absorbent materials
- Shortening working periods
- Providing personal protective equipment (PPE) such as earplugs to workers at risk of noise exposure.
An employer who fails to identify the risks or implement appropriate safety measures would be deemed negligent and therefore liable.
It is possible to bring a claim even if the employer has ceased trading. The injury lawyer will trace the former employer's insurers through Employers' Lliability Tracing Office. A settlement will then be negotiated with the insurance company.
In the rare event that court action is required against an employer that has dissolved, it may be necessary to restore the employer to the Register of Companies held at Companies House.
This process will be conducted by the personal injury lawyer as part of the legal action.
When calculating damages for noise induced hearing loss, the courts will take into account:
- the type and severity of NIHL
- the effect it has on the claimant's life.
The more serious and long-lasting the hearing impairment, the greater the amount of compensation that will be awarded.
The starting point for assessing general damages is by reference to the Judicial College Guidelines. The guidelines set out financial brackets for tinnitus and other hearing impairments by reference their severity, for example, whether the hearing loss is partial or complete.
Under the guidelines:
- Mild tinnitus or hearing loss may result in a compensation payout of £3,000 to £7,000.
- Moderate tinnitus or hearing loss may receive a compensation payout of £7,000 to £19,000.
- Total deafness in both ears with tinnitus may result in a compensation award of up to £70,000.
Special damages include the claimant's out-of-pocket expenses, such as:
- Loss of earnings
- Travel costs
- Hearing aids, batteries and replacements
- Tinnitus treatment such as 'de-tinnitising' amplifiers and counselling
- Adapted telephones, door bells and alarm clocks
- Sign language training.
These expenses are much easier to calculate as they reflect actual expenditure and estimable future costs. It is important to keep receipts as proof of expenses.
How can Quittance help?
Quittance is a panel of no win, no fee personal injury solicitors specialising in noise related claims.
Our solicitors have an excellent track record of winning claims and will fight for the best possible compensation settlement ahead of any court proceedings.
Starting a claim is a straightforward process. A short, no obligation phone conversation with one of our solicitors will let you know where you stand and answer any questions you may have.
If you decide that you would like to pursue a claim, the solicitor will send you an information pack. The pack will contain everything you need to know including details of how no win no fee works.
To speak to us about your claim, without obligation, call 0800 612 7456.
Meet the team
Quittance's nationwide panel of solicitors take on all types of work accident claims and have a wealth of experience in fast track, complex and serious injury claims. Our lawyers are chosen for their success rate in winning claims and their years of specialist experience.
About the author
Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.
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