Hearing loss is more common than you may think. According to one study, there are 48 million Americans with significant hearing loss. This number encompasses many factors, including hereditary hearing loss, age-related loss, workplace-related loss, and injury-related loss, to name a few.
Causes of Hearing Loss
Some hearing losses people experience are not the fault of anything but genetics or the aging process. Some hearing loss is attributed to noise exposure. Noise exposure is a very real and serious threat to us. While it can come from loud music, something we can usually control, other hearing loss issues are directly related to a person’s job or an injury.
Many people work in settings filled with constant loud noises. According to the CDC, 22 million workers are exposed to noise that is potentially damaging to their hearing each year. It could be that someone is consistently around large equipment like bulldozers and jackhammers, or they work in a factory filled with machinery noise, or they work in a concert venue where night after night the concert hall is filled with loud music. Or there are work accidents where a loud noise causes an acute injury. At a worksite, something could explode close by with an incredibly loud noise that causes hearing loss.
How is Noise Level Measured?
Noise level is measured by decibels. Scientists use this scale to determine what is a safe level of noise for humans. Safety not only depends on the decibel number but the length of time someone is exposed to a specific decibel. Any exposure over 85 decibels over time is dangerous and will cause hearing loss. How much loss depends on the decibel level combined with the length of the exposure to the noise.
If the noise in your workplace is loud enough that you have to shout to a coworker who is only 3 feet away in order to be heard, then the noise level is certainly over 85 decibels.
What Injuries Result?
When the noise-induced hearing loss occurs at work, it can take a period of time for you to notice it. It starts out slowly and increases over time. First, you may notice a high-pitched ringing in your ears called tinnitus. Or sounds may be muffled, or you have humming in your ears when you leave work. Or you may have trouble hearing someone when there is a lot of background noise. There could be any number of signs. So, if you think you have suffered a noise-induced hearing loss, you should contact hearing loss attorneys in Jacksonville.
Law requires that employers institute a hearing conservation program if the noise level employees experience is at least 85 decibels over an 8-hour time period. There are specific laws protecting employees’ hearing because it is well known that excessive noise causes permanent damage.
In addition to noise induced hearing loss, some chemical exposure causes hearing loss. It may not be widely discussed, but about 11 million people are exposed to solvents and ototoxic chemicals at work resulting in hearing loss.
Workers’ Compensation Coverage of Hearing Loss
In Florida, you are eligible for coverage through Workers’ Compensation for:
1. Hearing loss in one or both ears;
3. Damage to the inner ear referred to as sensorineural hearing loss;
4. Hearing loss caused by your outer ear not being able to send sound to your ear drum referred to as conductive hearing loss; and
5. Hearing loss from damage to both the outer and inner ear.
A Workers’ Compensation Claim for Hearing Loss
If you experience hearing loss as a result of your job, then you should report it to your employer, and file a workers’ compensation claim. It is only fair that you get your medical bills, time off work, prescriptions, damages and all other necessary care paid for.
It is possible a hearing loss could result in temporary or permanent disability with loss of work, and you are entitled to payment through workers’ compensation for that. It is helpful to have hearing loss attorneys in Jacksonville to help you through this process.
Hearing loss is generally permanent, and there is no way to get your hearing back once it is gone. Florida has a specific set of rules on how they examine a person for hearing loss in a workers’ compensation case. They will give you a hearing test in which they test all levels of hearing. They have a set method where they take the test results, form a percentage of hearing loss, and plug that percentage into a chart to get the amount of workers’ compensation you are entitled to.
Proving a Work-Related Hearing Loss
There is also a very important issue that isn’t just about tests and charts. It is about proving that your hearing loss is work related. Sometimes this can be the difficult part, and one your employer will most likely try to disprove.
What if they know that you jog every night with earbuds in listening to music? What if they claim that the loud volume you keep your music at is the problem? Or that you go to concerts every weekend and the loud music is the cause? Or they may try to prove your age is the reason for hearing loss. There are any number of arguments they can make to try not to provide coverage.
As you can see, there are many instances where things may not go as fairly to you as they should. It is very important to contact hearing loss attorneys in Jacksonville to make sure you are treated fairly during the workers’ compensation process.
You deserve compensation for your injuries. Do not doubt that hearing loss is an injury. One that employers should take responsibility for and compensate you for fully. Hearing loss is an extremely serious issue, and hearing loss attorneys in Jacksonville will get you the compensation you deserve.
Let the experienced disability injury attorneys at RITE Law, help you. When you turn to our firm, we spring into action, making sure that every detail of your claim is addressed. Call us for help. Our number is (904) 500-RITE or you can fill out our contact form online. We provide a free case evaluation, so feel free to call us today.