Many people experience hearing loss over the course of their lifetimes, and it can be caused by the workplace. It is important to pay attention to your hearing as well as the noise level of your working environment, so you can protect yourself and make any necessary workers’ compensation claims. You should educate yourself on how to make a workers’ compensation claim for hearing loss.
How is Hearing Loss Caused in the Workplace?
We all know that many experience hearing loss as they age or can be born with it. But not everyone thinks about how our working environment can damage our hearing. Even then, we may think of loud factories or jackhammers as the only types of places that can injure our hearing. But there are also chemicals that can cause hearing loss which employees are exposed to on a regular basis. There are also not so obvious loud working environments that can damage our hearing. It is best to know your rights and protect them. The easiest way to do so is to call a hearing loss claims attorney in Jacksonville with any questions or concerns.
When in your working environment, be aware that any time you are exposed to a noise level of 85 decibels over time, it can result in a hearing loss. Also be aware of any time there is a loud unexpected noise at work, and pay attention to see if you have any hearing loss from this. The same goes for specific chemical exposure. Know the risks and monitor any changes in your hearing.
Report any Hearing Loss Injury
The first thing you should do when you experience a hearing loss injury, whether it is instantaneous, or takes place over time, is report it to your employer. There are specific laws in Florida giving you 30 days to report an injury to your employer.
This is an easy time frame to go by if your hearing loss is caused by a specific event like an explosion. It can be more difficult for an injury that occurs over time, like being exposed to repetitive loud noises at work. For injuries like this, you still have 30 days after your hearing loss manifests or you discover you are experiencing hearing loss to report it to your employer.
If you notice that you begin to have trouble hearing, ringing in the ears, muffled sounds when people talk, trouble hearing someone speak when there is loud background noise, and other issues like this, especially after leaving work for the day, you should assume your hearing loss is work related, and report it to your employer. If you are unsure, you can get a hearing test, and discuss your work environment with your doctor, and also contact a hearing loss claims attorney in Jacksonville. You do not want to miss this deadline, so err on the side of caution.
Your employer has 7 days to report your injury to their insurance company. Get a copy of your accident report or first notice of injury from your employer. You are required to sign a fraud statement attesting to the fact that you are being honest in this claim.
Get Medical Treatment
After you report your hearing loss to your employer, ask them for medical treatment for this loss. The employer’s insurance company will have to approve your doctor and may want to send you to a doctor of their choosing. The doctor will take a medical history and do a hearing test. There is no putting you back to pre-injury status with hearing loss. If you break a leg at work, it may heal perfectly, and you would be back at work with no permanent disability. However, there is no permanent cure for hearing loss, and even with hearing aids or other assistive devices, your hearing will never be the same. Florida views hearing loss as a permanent injury in the workers’ compensation field.
Hearing loss is an area of workers’ compensation where Florida has very specific steps they follow because the loss of hearing is pretty clear cut, and they can easily use a test to determine the level of hearing loss. They take your hearing test results and use them to determine a percentage of hearing loss. They then use that percentage in combination with a chart to get the amount of workers’ compensation you are entitled to.
After you visit the doctor, they will send a proposed course of treatment to the insurance company. The insurance company should pay for your treatment, care, prescriptions and assistive devices, time missed from work and other miscellaneous costs.
Florida law provides that you must be paid for time missed from work for work related injuries. There are different types of missed work, temporary partial disability where you can work with restrictions, temporary total disability where you cannot work, permanent total disability where you cannot work ever again, and impairment income benefits where you are at maximum medical improvement and have an assigned impairment rating. You will not make your normal income when being paid for being off work due to the injury. You will make a percentage based on your normal rate of pay with a maximum cap.
In order to make sure you don’t have any interruption in payments and medical care keep in contact with your adjustor to notify them of any address and telephone changes and of any changes to doctor appointments.
Keep your employer updated with your care and your planned treatment and return to work status and restrictions.
Officially Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
If your employer denies your claim and refuses to pay your medical care and time off work, you have 2 years from the date of injury to file a Petition of Benefits with the Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims. There are specific items that are necessary to this Petition, and it can be dismissed if not properly prepared. At this point, it is smart to contact and hire a hearing loss claims attorney in Jacksonville to assist you in the claims process. They will know how to deal with employers and insurance companies that refuse to take responsibility for your work-related injuries and will make the legal process much easier to navigate.