Millions of people who were born in America and all around the earth suffer from work-related hearing loss.
Only in the US, hearing loss is the third most common chronic physical condition, after high blood pressure and arthritis. This disease is more common than diabetes, cancer, and vision trouble.
Knowing this, how can you, as an employee, know that your employer is one, you need to blame for your hearing loss? What measures do you should take when you, full confidence, can say that you’ve lost some or all of your hearing at your workplace? Who can make a work-related hearing loss claims? This article will cast some light on these issues.
How do you know if your hearing loss is work-related?
In many cases, the cause of a hearing loss is so complicated that without absolute certainty, no one can talk about work-related hearing losses. It rather comes down to the hearing loss being ‘more probable or not’ due to possible neglect from the employer.
For example, take into account the following; If someone has the first job from 9 am to 5 pm in a loud environment, uses ear protection gear and then has a second job from 6 pm to 9 pm, where the person is using earbuds to listen to the music. Now, who is really to blame for the hearing loss?
What about any pre-existing conditions about hearing issues that the employee didn’t inform the employer? Are there genetic predispositions that could cause hearing loss, that neither the employer nor the employee was aware of?
Probably, as you can understand, there are so many things to take into account when it comes to determining whether a hearing loss is job-related or not. Everyone’s background is different.
The general answer is that you don’t know for sure, whether your hearing loss is work-related or not until you have a qualified medical professional to assess it for you.
What can you do if you have work-related hearing loss?
First of all, in these situations, you should consult some law firms to explore possible legal actions. Quite likely, you’ll have to file one document, which name is a WC, for work-related hearing loss.
WC is a claim where you can require compensation for your hearing loss. However, make sure that you take into this account the ‘date of disablement.’ The date of disablement is three months after you quit your job. A WC, due to occupational hearing loss has to be filed within two years of the date of disablement.
Unfortunately, many employees miss out on the possibility to receive compensation because they don’t think about it until the plant or workplace shuts down for some years. Then they start losing their hearing and the date of disablement has long passed away.
There are also exceptions.
If a worker learns that he lost his hearing at a certain workplace after the date of disablement, he may still file a WC no longer than 90 days, after he first was aware of that information.
What benefits are there for a work-related hearing loss?
If your WC case goes through and you prevail, it is usually the insurance carrier that is responsible for your compensation.
Some insurance companies may pay for hearing devices or a lump sum, depending on the severity of your hearing loss. However, certain terms and regulations make this process quite complicated.
In some US states, for example, Pennsylvania, plaintiffs have a significantly harder time getting their cases through the system.
The SSA has developed certain tests. If you want to grant disability benefits for hearing loss, you’ll need to pass one of two tests. These tests are the word recognition test and an audiometric test.
In the word recognition test, you cannot be able to repeat more than 40% of standardized words that are spoken.
In the audiometric test, your average hearing sensitivity for air conduction must be 90 dB(A) or worse, in your better ear. Also, you need to have a bone conduction hearing threshold of 60 dB(A) or worse, in your better ear.
Even if you don’t pass these tests you may still get some compensation for your hearing loss. It depends on how much the condition affects your everyday life and what kind of jobs you may or may not do. Various terms and regulations will apply.
Who can make a claim?
Can I make a work-related hearing loss claims?
Hypothetically, anyone can claim against their previous employer. The common procedure is to go to a certified physician and get a medical record. That medical record must say that you have hearing loss that is related to your previous job.
Then you’ll need to consult a hearing loss lawyer or any legal professional who specializes in hearing loss cases. Once, you sorted out all the paperwork, your lawyer will bring your claim before a court. Do not be afraid, if you have the courage to make a work-related hearing loss claims now!