Damages for Industrial Hearing Loss

How much is an industrial deafness claim worth

 

When a person suffering from industrial hearing loss makes a claim for compensation against the employers who exposed them to high levels of nose without proper protection, they are interested in knowing whether the damages that they will receive at the end of the case make the claim worthwhile.

Damages in an noise induced hearing loss deafness claim are broken down into 2 main headings; general damages and special damages.

General Damages

These are the damages for pain and suffering. Although the Court cannot bring somebody's lost hearing back, they can seek to compensate them financially for the damage to the hearing, whether that is in the form of tinnitus or noise induced hearing loss. It is important to remember that compensate will only be paid for hearing loss directly caused by exposure to loud noise at work. Any deafness relate to age, illness or other constitutional factors does not form part of the claim. This is why is is so important that a specialist personal injury solicitor is used to properly instruct the medico legal expert in the case.

The Judge will look at the medical report and compare this to similar previous cases already decided by the Courts to set the appropriate level of compensation. Various relevant cases can be found within the law reports and are available to specialist lawyers. In addition, the Judge will look at the Judicial Studies Board Guidelines, which set out the broad bands into which each category of injury will be placed.

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Deafness/Tinnitus

 

The word 'deafness' is used to embrace total and partial hearing loss. In assessing awards for hearing loss regard must be had to the following:

(i) whether the injury is one that has an immediate effect, allowing no opportunity to adapt, or whether it occurred over a period of time, as in noise exposure  cases;

(ii) whether the injury or disability is one which the injured person suffered at an early age so that it has had or will  have an effect on his or her speech (and will be suffered for a longer period), or is one that is suffered in later life;

(iii) whether the injury or disability affects balance;

(iv) in cases of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) age is of particular relevance as noted in paragraph (d) below.

(v) tinnitus may be suffered alone, rather than associated with NIHL.

Note also that the cases which form the basis of these brackets were decided before recent advances in medical science, such as cochlear implants which can in some cases restore total deafness to almost full hearing when worn.

(a) Total Deafness and Loss of Speech

 

Such cases arise, for example, where deafness has occurred at an early age (for example, rubella infection) so as to prevent or seriously to affect the development of normal speech.

£78,300 to £100,500

(b) Total Deafness

 

The lower end of the bracket is appropriate for cases where there is no speech deficit or tinnitus. The higher end is appropriate for cases involving both of these.

£64,800 to £78,300

(c) Total Loss of Hearing in One Ear

 

Cases will tend towards the higher end of the bracket where there are associated problems, such as tinnitus, dizziness or headaches.

£22,350 to £32,500

(d) Partial Hearing Loss or/and Tinnitus

 

This category covers the bulk of deafness cases which usually result from exposure to noise over a prolonged period. The disability is not to be judged simply by the degree of hearing loss; there is often a degree of tinnitus present. Age is particularly relevant because impairment of hearing affects most people in the fullness of time and impacts both upon causation and upon valuation.

(i) Severe tinnitus and hearing loss.

£21,250 to £32,500

(ii) Moderate tinnitus and hearing loss or moderate to severe tinnitus or hearing loss alone.

£10,600 to £21,250

(iii) Mild tinnitus with some hearing loss.

£9,000 to £10,600

(iv) Slight or occasional tinnitus with slight hearing loss

£5,300 to £9,000

(v) Slight hearing loss without tinnitus or slight tinnitus without hearing loss.

Up to £5,000

 

Special Damages

As well as receiving damages for pain and suffering (general damages) a victim of noise induced hearing loss is entitled to their special damages. These are financial losses that they have incurred as a direct result of their injury and can include:

 

  • Loss of earnings – any time off work is likely to cause a loss of earnings. The value of this is calculated by comparing what you would have expected to earn in the period affected (using average pre absence pay) and then comparing this with the amount actually receive. Any difference represents the loss of earnings

loss of pay claim

  • Medical expenses – in some cases, medical expenses like the private costs of a consultant are recoverable as part of a noise induced hearing loss claim
  • Hearing Aids – many audiologists and medical experts will recommend the use of digital aids to help transform an injured person's hearing. Many different types of hearing aid are available, but they are costly. If the medical expert confirms in the report that hearing aids would assist with a person's noise induced hearing loss, then the cost can be recovered as part of the claim. The doctor will be specifically asked which type of hearing aid will be of most benefit and they will explain whether a behind the ear aid or other type of hearing aid is most appropriate. This cost will then form part of the schedule of special damages

hearing aid styles

  • Loss of opportunity on the labour market – this is a more speculative part of the claim and some lawyers will argue that it should form part of the general damages as it cannot be precisely calculated. This claim is sometimes called a "Smith v Manchester" claim, because of the first case to allow damages to reflect a person’s loss of opportunity on the labour market. The argument is straightforward – because of my noise induced hearing loss, I will find it more difficult to get another job when compared with uninjured candidates and therefore compensation is payable. The level of compensation will depend  on the circumstances of each case, but a figure representing between 3 and 24 months of net pay is relatively common
  • Travel costs – the costs of travelling to medical appointments would be recoverable as part of the claim as long as there is some evidence of the cost
  • Care claims – where care has been provided by other people, even family members, it is possible to calculate the appropriate cost of care and include this as part of the claim. It is a more unusual head of damage in industrial deafness cases than it is in other personal injury claims, but should be considered in every case

The list above is not an exhaustive list and we recommend that you seek specialist advice from an industrial disease specialist in every case.