A Closer Look At Work-Related Hearing Loss
Partial deafness is by far the most common occupational disease in the United States. Almost 38 million Americans struggle with hearing loss, and in many cases, this hearing loss is work-related. Usually, workers’ compensation benefits are available, even if a pre-existing or non-work-related injury contributed to the hearing loss. These victims must normally prove that their work environments aggravated their non-work injuries, as opposed to the other way around.
These benefits usually include lost wage replacement and medical bill payment. Since hearing loss is often permanent, most injured workers are entitled to lump-sum wage replacement payments. The amount of money usually depends on the extent of the disability. Additionally, workers’ compensation pays all reasonably necessary medical bills. In some cases, a Tampa workers’ compensation attorney may be able to obtain additional compensation for these victims.
People normally associate hearing loss with airport workers, concert event staffers, and other individuals who work in very noisy environments. But sounds as low as 35 decibels, which is basically the noise level at a busy street corner, could cause permanent hearing loss. So, the most vulnerable workers include:
- Landscapers: The constant whine of lawnmowers, leaf blowers, and other such tools is just as noisy as any subway, especially from up close. Making matters worse, many of these workers do not wear protective gear. They believe the noise isn’t loud enough to be a problem.
- Construction Workers: These individuals often deal with intermittent loud noises. So, their ears do not adjust. Such intermittent noises often include large construction vehicles and constant warning signals.
- Office Workers: Many people are surprised to see these individuals on this list. But these individuals work near noisy office machinery all day. That’s especially true in offices that have older equipment. Also, much like landscapers, many office workers do not believe they need protective hearing equipment.
Typically, these individuals do not go to the doctor at the first sign of hearing loss. As a result, their conditions deteriorate. Legally, these victims do not have a duty to begin the workers’ compensation process until they know the full extent of their injuries and they connect their injuries with their work environments.
Hearing Loss Solutions
If doctors identify the problem quickly enough, a hearing aid normally restores much or all of the lost hearing. Today’s hearing aids are smaller and more powerful than ever. Workers’ compensation pays for these medical devices and any associated expenses, like doctor visits and fitting appointments.
In more advanced cases, risky and invasive surgery is usually the only option. Surgical costs could easily run into the thousands of dollars. Usually, workers’ compensation insurance companies pay these expenses directly, and victims are not financially responsible for any unpaid charges.
If the insurance company drags its feet, most Tampa workers’ compensation attorneys send letters of protection to medical providers. Since these letters guarantee payment when the case is resolved, they normally charge nothing upfront for their services.
Is Additional Compensation Available?
Workers’ compensation is designed to address unintentional injuries. Generally, if there is any indication that the employer recklessly or intentionally injured the victim, the victim may file a damages claim in civil court.
Frequently, these claims involve an unusual failure to fulfill a legal duty. For example, employers do not simply have a responsibility to provide safety equipment. They must ensure that workers know how important it is to use it and are using it properly.
The additional available compensation normally includes money for pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment in life, and other noneconomic losses.
Contact an Experienced Hillsborough County Attorney
Injured workers are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Tampa, contact Kobal Law. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.