Living with a hearing impairment can be very frustrating – it can be difficult for you to communicate with others, which has a knock-on effect on your confidence. And you might find it especially hard when you’re in places with lots of background noise, such as family parties or events. Hearing loss can even lead to depression because of the knock-on effects on your life.
For some people, hearing loss is just a part of growing older. But in some cases, you might be having difficulty hearing because of the noise levels at a current or previous job. This can feel unfair, especially because the consequences are usually permanent.
Some industries are more likely to cause hearing loss (also known as industrial deafness, noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) or occupational deafness) – especially those which include loud machinery such as drills, jack hammers, and pneumatic tools. This means factory and construction workers are at particularly high risk. High frequency sounds such as through telephone headsets over a long period of time can also lead to hearing problems. Others at risk also include those in the military, and people working in bars and nightclubs.
If you’re suffering from hearing problems because your employer hasn’t followed health and safety rules to protect you from noise, then you may be able to make a claim. Even if you developed your hearing loss a long time after you worked in the factory, etc. that caused the problem, you could still be able to claim compensation. You can get in touch with a trained legal adviser for free on 0800 234 6438 – they’ll then be able to let you know whether you have a valid case.
You can make your claim for industrial deafness on a no win no fee basis which means if you don’t win, you don’t have to pay any money. When you speak to your solicitor, they’ll be able to let you know whether they think your hearing loss compensation claim will be successful. And if you don’t win your compensation claim, their no win no fee promise means that you won’t have to pay your solicitors anything.
With no win no fee, there aren’t any upfront charges or hidden costs either. If you do win your case, your personal injury solicitor will charge you a ‘success fee’ as a percentage of the compensation you receive, but this will only take up a maximum of 25% – so you’ll still get to keep most of it.
The amount of compensation you receive for industrial deafness will depend on how severe your hearing loss is, your long-term prognosis and the impact it’s having on your life. Under the formal ‘Judicial College Guidelines’ on compensation amounts, for example, if you’ve suffered severe tinnitus or hearing loss, you could be compensated up to almost £43,000, while minor hearing loss and cases of occasional tinnitus may be worth around £11,800.
You’ll also be able to claim compensation for any specific expenses that have been caused by your hearing loss, such as hearing aids, electronic devices and adapted telephones. Your solicitor will find out as much as possible so they can make sure you’re fully covered for the expenses and impact hearing loss has had physically and psychologically. You can also try our compensation calculator which estimates the amount of compensation you might receive based on your answers to some simple questions.
Under health and safety laws, all employers have a legal duty to take all reasonable steps to ensure an employee’s health, safety and wellbeing in the workplace. This rule applies whether you work full-time, part-time or on a self-employed or agency basis.
This would include conducting regular risk assessments that identify all risks that might harm you in your workplace, explaining the risks to you, and taking steps to alleviate them. They must also provide you with adequate supervision and the training you need to carry out your work safely.
All employers also have a specific duty to keep their employees safe from hearing damage, as set out in the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005. This states that if the noise levels in your workplace are at 80-85 decibels or higher, then your employer should have taken one or all the measures listed below to avoid your hearing being damaged:
If your employer hasn’t taken any of these steps and you’re left with hearing loss as a result, then you may be able to make a compensation claim to cover the costs and impact that it’s likely to have had on your life.
To find out if you have a valid claim, call an expert legal adviser for free and in complete confidence on 0800 234 6438. They will be happy to answer any questions you may have and will never pressure you to start a claim.
Whether your hearing loss is minor or serious, it can still be very difficult to live with. Although hearing loss often doesn’t appear until years after exposure to the loud noise, it can get worse with time. It can also start to emerge very slowly over the years. The three main types of noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) are:
Hearing loss caused by conditions which breach health and safety laws at work frequently happens gradually and you may not realise that your hearing has been damaged straight away. Some of the signs that you may be suffering from some form of hearing loss include:
Making a compensation claim can seem daunting, but we’ve seen how much of a difference the money can make to people’s lives – both now as well as in the future. This is because your solicitor will take all the effects of your hearing loss into consideration when putting together your compensation claim, including the impact it’s likely to have on your life moving forward. This means you’ll be covered for:
Your solicitor will look closely into your case to make sure you get the amount of compensation you deserve, so that you can get on with your life with confidence and financial security.
You might be worried about starting a hearing loss claim, but your injury lawyer will aim to make the process as simple and stress-free as possible. The first step is to get in contact with a legal adviser for free on 0800 234 6438 to find out whether you can make a claim.
It’s important to take steps as soon as possible once you realise the cause of your hearing loss while the events are still fresh in your mind and in those of everyone else involved.
After speaking with a legal adviser, you might decide you’d like to go ahead with your claim. If you give them your permission, they’ll find the right solicitor for your case and can put you in touch with them straight away. Your solicitor will be able to do most of the work on your behalf, but they’ll keep you in the loop throughout the process.
To give you the best chance of winning your industrial deafness claim, your solicitor will need to prove that your employer was negligent and that your hearing loss was a direct result of the type and/or volume of the noise in your workplace at the time. Specifically, they’ll need to prove that your employer owed you a duty of care (most employers do), that they should have foreseen that you could suffer hearing loss due to the conditions and still breached that duty, and that you were injured as a result of this breach.
For most workplace accident cases, negligence would be found if the employer responsible had failed to act in the same way a ‘reasonable man’ or the famous ‘man on the Clapham omnibus’ would act in the same circumstances.
Even if it’s been a long time since you left the job that was probably the cause of your deafness, it will still be helpful to your case to think about any evidence you can gather to prove your employer’s negligence.
For example, you might be able to get in touch with old work colleagues who can give evidence about the noise and the lack of protection. You should also make a written record of how your injuries came about and the effect they have had on you, as well as collating financial records which outline any expenses that have arisen directly from your injury, and any details which could be used to calculate expenses going forward, caused by factors such as time spent off work.
To help to prove negligence, your solicitor will also arrange for you to receive an expert assessment of your condition from an audiologist. They’ll test your hearing and will be able decide whether your hearing loss is the result of your age – or of external factors such as a noisy work environment.
It’s best to start your hearing loss claim as soon as you can, because you normally only have three years to start legal proceedings. However, the reality is that hearing loss can take a long time to develop. Because of this, the three-year period starts to run from the date of ‘knowledge’ – this is the date on which you first became aware that your hearing loss was caused by your job.
Don’t worry if you’re not sure about the ‘date of knowledge’, because your solicitor will be able to talk you through it. For advice, and to get the ball rolling, you can speak to an adviser on 0800 234 6438, or submit your details using the claim form on this page.
The time it takes for you to receive your final compensation package will depend on the complexity of your case and whether liability is accepted by your solicitor, but the average time to reach settlement in hearing loss cases is between 12 and 18 months.
Most personal injury claims are settled out of court and your specialist personal injury solicitor will strive to negotiate you the maximum out-of-court settlement possible – and may even be able to secure you an interim payment to tide you over until your final settlement comes through.
Your claim will usually be brought using the Pre-Action Protocol for Low Value Personal Injury (Employers’ Liability and Public Liability) Claims. This dictates the standards and process that you and the other side must follow throughout your claim. They aim to encourage the parties to exchange information at an early stage, consider using a form of alternative dispute resolution to settle the dispute, and assess whether you have needs that could be met by rehabilitation, treatment or other measures.
If your employer refuses to accept liability for your hearing loss, your case may to go to court. Your claim will then be allocated by the court to one of three ‘tracks’ (the small track, fast track or multi-track). This will depend on the value and nature of the claim.
Both parties will then be given a precise timetable to work to, which aims to get your claim concluded as swiftly as possible. Don’t worry, your injury solicitor will be there to ensure all the deadlines are followed and that the paperwork is in order, give legal advice and guidance, and speak on your behalf through the whole court process.
The fact is, it often takes a long time for hearing loss to develop, so there’s a risk that your old employer might now have gone out of business. If this applies to you, don’t worry – it’s likely your solicitor can still help. They will usually be able to trace your ex-employer’s insurers, and your compensation will then be paid by them.
You shouldn’t worry about your employer sacking you or treating you adversely if you make a claim as to do so would be against the law. If this happens to you, you would be entitled to take your employer to an employment tribunal which can order that you be paid compensation or even reinstated to your old job.
Lucy is a NCTJ trained journalist who studied law at the University of Greenwich. She is a legal journalist and editor with more than 20 years experience writing about the law.
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