How to Claim Compensation for Hearing Loss at Work
This article will explain certain reasons why you might – or might not – qualify for compensation for hearing loss at work and the procedures you should follow after losing your hearing in an accident at work to support a work loss of hearing claim for compensation.
A brief explanation of how to claim for hearing loss compensation is also included; however, as no two claims for hearing loss in the workplace are identical, it is always in your best interests to discuss the specific circumstances of your work injury with a solicitor at the earliest practical opportunity.
Your first priority should always be your health and, if you have not already done so, you should seek professional medical treatment for your loss of hearing. No amount of work loss of hearing compensation will ever make up for a permanent health problem which could have been avoided by timely medical attention and, to add weight to your claim for suffering hearing loss at work, you will need a doctor to complete the Injuries Board Medical Assessment Form B.
Claims for Hearing Loss in the Workplace and the Duty of Care of Employers
In order to be eligible to claim compensation for hearing loss at work, you must have sustained an injury which could have been avoided had your employer – or other person with responsibility for your health and safety – fulfilled his or her duty of care to provide you with a safe environment in which to work.
An employer´s “duty of care” covers all his or her responsibilities to prevent hearing loss wherever possible, and would include performing risk assessments to identify foreseeable hazards, providing training and supervision, and supplying personal protective equipment where necessary to eliminate the risk of an employee losing their ability to hear.
Should an employer fail in their duty of care to eliminate the risk of an injury, and you subsequently lose your hearing as a result, you should be entitled to make a work loss of hearing claim for compensation. It should be noted, however, that an employer´s duty of care is not “absolute” and, if your hearing is lost in an accident at work which could not have been foreseen, claims for hearing loss in the workplace are unlikely to be successful.
How Your Employment Status May Affect a Hearing Loss Claim
It is not often that your employment status will affect your entitlement to claim work accident compensation, but there may be situations when agency workers, employees on short-term contracts or self-employed workers may have to make a claim for suffering hearing loss at work against somebody other than their direct employer – for example the owner of the premises on which the injury was sustained.
Possibly of more concern if you have lost your ability to hear in an accident at work is the fact that you do not want to fall out with your employer but, because of financial necessity, you need to make a claim for suffering hearing loss at work against their employer´s liability insurance policy. Most employers will be genuinely upset that you have lost your hearing at work due to their negligence and will admit their liability; but there are some circumstances in which an employer will want to protect their insurance policy excess and dispute your work loss of hearing compensation claim.
Reporting Hearing Loss Work Accidents
It is important that the work accident in which you lost your hearing is recorded in your employer´s “Accident Report Book”. Although a copy of this report is not sent to the Injuries Board when applying for an assessment of compensation for hearing loss at work, reporting the work accident may initiate a Health and Safety Authority (HSA) investigation which could prove your employer´s liability in your claim for suffering hearing loss at work.
If liability can be determined before making claims for hearing loss in the workplace, it should speed up the Injuries Board process or may enable the solicitor representing you to negotiate a settlement of work loss of hearing compensation without the need for witness statements or photographic evidence of your employer´s negligence.
If your loss of hearing is so severe that you are unable to report your work accident – or your employer fails to give you access to the Accident Report Book – you should speak with a solicitor. Work accidents can be reported online at the HSA web site, but you will need an approval code to use the service and it may be a lot simpler for a solicitor to generate a report on your behalf and then use it to give substance to a work loss of hearing claim for compensation.
Procedures for Claiming Work Loss of Hearing Compensation
The most often performed procedure for claiming work loss of hearing compensation is to submit an application for assessment to the Injuries Board. Your application can be completed on hard copy or online, but must be submitted with a medical practitioner´s report detailing the circumstances of your hearing loss. Receipts for any expenses you have incurred which are directly attributable to your accident in the workplace should also be attached to your application.
The Injuries Board´s role is only to assess the amount of compensation for hearing loss at work you qualify for, and they do not establish liability for your injury. Therefore, the Injuries Board will write to your employer asking for consent to proceed with an assessment of your work loss of hearing claim for compensation, and only continue once that consent has been received – effectively when your employer has admitted his liability for hearing loss.
Thereafter you may have to undergo an independent medical examination to ascertain how serious your loss of hearing is and the Injuries Board will then send you and your employer a “Notice of Assessment” which – if both you and your employer agree to – is followed by an “Order to Pay” work loss of hearing compensation. If either your employer denies his consent for the Injuries Board to evaluate your claim for suffering hearing loss at work, or neither party agrees on how much compensation for hearing loss at work you are entitled to, the Injuries Board will issue you with an authorisation to pursue your claim through the courts.
How Much is a Claim for Suffering Hearing Loss at Work Worth?
How much compensation for hearing loss at work you will be entitled to receive will depend on the location, nature and severity of your injury in relation to your age, sex and general state of health prior to the accident in which you lost your hearing. Financial values found in the Book of Quantum only account for the physical pain and suffering you experience at the time your injury was sustained and not for the “inconvenience of incapacity” that might result from a loss of hearing.
Claims for hearing loss in the workplace should include compensation for the impact that your injury has on your ability to perform everyday domestic tasks and your incapacity to partake in leisure pursuits or engage in an active social life. There is very little opportunity to account for this “loss of amenity” when making a claim for suffering hearing loss at work through the Injuries Board process, and this is a further reason why you should speak with solicitor with experience of making a claim – to ensure you receive your full entitlement to work loss of hearing compensation.
Expenses, lost income and any other costs you have incurred due to your hearing loss are then added to the compensation value for the physical injury to finalise how much your work loss of hearing claim for compensation is worth. You may also be able to recover any legal costs you have incurred in pursuit of your claim for suffering hearing loss at work, fares paid to use alternative forms of transport if you are unable to drive and future medical costs if relevant.
Contributory Negligence and Hearing Loss Work Accidents
Consent to assess your claim may be withheld from the Injuries Board if you have been deemed partly responsible for the cause of the workplace accident or the extent of your injury. The Injuries Board will only assess claims for hearing loss in the workplace in which total liability is admitted and, if you have contributed to your injury, the Injuries Board will have no option but to issue you with an authorisation to pursue your work loss of hearing claim for compensation in court.
Court action may be a last resort when making a claim for suffering hearing loss at work, as it may also be possible to negotiate a settlement with your employer´s liability insurers where you accept a percentage responsibility for your loss of hearing and that percentage is then deducted from how much compensation for hearing loss at work your claim is settled for. It is not a good idea to negotiate the value of work loss of hearing compensation directly with an insurance company without legal representation.
One aspect of contributory negligence which is sometimes overlooked is if you contributed to the extent of your hear loss injury by neglecting to seek immediate professional medical attention. Some people who sustain hearing loss at work foolishly continue to work – making their injury worse and jeopardising their entitlement to compensation for hearing loss at work. If this has happened to you, you should speak with a solicitor about whether you still have a viable work injury claim.
What You Need A Solicitor
You do not necessarily need a solicitor in order to make claims for hearing loss in the workplace, but you would still be well advised to do so. In addition to dealing with any complications that arise while making a hear loss at work claim and acting as a go-between between yourself and your employer, a solicitor has the experience to ensure you receive your complete entitlement to work loss of hearing compensation – whether your claim for suffering hearing loss at work is resolved via the Injuries Board, by negotiation with your employer´s insurers or through court action.
Most solicitors will offer an initial assessment of your work loss of hearing claim for compensation without charge if you have sustained an injury in work accident for which you were not entirely to blame, and can provide you with answers to any questions you may have in regard to your eligibility to claim compensation for hearing loss at work. As it is often worth your while to have evidence collected in support of your claim while it is still fresh, it is recommended that you speak with a solicitor about the circumstances of your work accident without delay.