According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, approximately 22 million workers are exposed to harmful noise at work each year. In 2017, U.S. businesses paid more than $1.5 million in penalties for failing to protect their workers from harmful noise levels, and an estimated $242 million is spent each year on workers’ compensation for hearing loss disability. Hearing loss is a pervasive problem, but while the stats show that it can and does happen, work-related hearing loss is difficult to prove.
Unlike physical injuries, which occur instantaneously and in a single event, hearing loss is something that typically happens over time. Sometimes, a person may not fully realize his or her loss until long after he or she has stopped working in the noisy environment. For these reasons and several others, it is difficult for workers to obtain compensation for this type of injury. That said, if you or a loved one has sustained significant hearing loss due to a noisy work environment, contact the Illinois hearing loss lawyers at Brassfield, Krueger & Ramlow, LTD., for help with building a winning case and to recover the compensation you deserve.
When it comes to hearing loss, it is easy for companies to point to outside factors as the main cause of the problem. For instance, an employer may say that the employee liked to listen to loud music and that is why his or her hearing is now bad. An insurance company might point to a person’s advanced age and medical history and try to claim that hearing loss is just a result of old age and bad genes. Because it is easy to blame outside factors, the most successful hearing loss workers’ comp claims involve work environments that are actually noisy.
While any person who experiences hearing loss as a result of a too-noisy work environment is entitled to workers’ compensation, a worker has a better chance of recovering damages if he or she can prove that he or she was exposed to noise levels higher than 90dBA for eight hours a day or to noise levels of 100 dBA or greater for more than two hours a day. Workers can increase their odds of recovery if they can prove that the noise was continuous and that they were required to wear protective gear over their ears while at work.
That said, when noise is a constant feature of a work environment, employers often require new hires to take hearing tests prior to being released for duty. If a worker does file a workers’ comp claim for hearing loss, the employer can pull up the employee’s test results to see how much hearing loss an employee actually accrued during his or her time with the company. If the worker had bad hearing prior to working for the company, the employer can use that fact to its advantage. However, even if a worker did have poor hearing prior to starting work, he or she may still be able to recover compensation if the conditions at work aggravated an otherwise controlled loss.
On the other hand, if a worker’s test results reveal that his or her hearing was perfect prior to beginning work with the company, the test results can work to the employee’s advantage.
At Brassfield, Krueger & Ramlow, LTD., our team has the experience and resources necessary to prove that your hearing loss is work-related and to help you recover fair compensation. If you suspect that your loss is the result of a noisy work environment, reach out to our Illinois hearing loss lawyers today to discuss your case and your options.
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