Work-Related Hearing Loss: A Closer Look
Hearing loss has both physical and emotional effects. Frequently, the emotional effects are worse. Prizefighter Jake LaMotta, the subject of Raging Bull, was mostly deaf in one ear. His frustration over his inability to follow simple conversations and participate in special events probably explains his violent temper.
That’s an extreme example. But symptoms like withdrawal, loss of interest, and depression are quite common among hearing loss victims.
Because hearing loss affects victims and families both physically and emotionally, a New Orleans workers’ compensation attorney might be able to obtain substantial compensation for these victims. In addition to wage replacement, most victims are also entitled to lifelong medical bill payment. Some victims might also be entitled to compensation for their emotional distress and other noneconomic losses.
What Causes Hearing Loss?
Generally, hearing loss is either a hearing degradation or tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Long-term exposure to moderately-loud noises usually causes these conditions.
The sound need not be too loud. Prolonged exposure to noises no louder than a busy city intersection could cause hearing loss. Moderate noise occupations include landscapers and people who work at very large and busy offices. These individuals often do not use any hearing protection.
Deafness usually does not have just one cause. Most people are exposed to loud noises during off-work hours as well as during their work hours.
Even if a non-work condition contributed to the victim’s hearing loss, full compensation is usually available. Because of the eggshell skull rule, these victims must simply establish that their work environments aggravated their pre-existing conditions, as opposed to the other way around.
If the hearing loss is caught early enough, a hearing aid typically solves the problem. Today’s hearing aids are smaller and more powerful than ever.
Unfortunately, hearing loss injuries often go undiagnosed for several months or even longer. Most people do not run to see their doctors the first time they have trouble keeping up with a dinner party conversation. As a result, their injuries go untreated, and since hearing loss is degenerative, their conditions worsen.
At some point, risky surgery is the only available treatment option. Not everyone is a candidate for a procedure that attaches a device to the ear muscle. Moreover, even if the person is a candidate, this surgery is not always successful.
As for the compensation available, the insurance company normally continues to pay for hearing aids. Most victims are entitled to the best devices available and not just the cheapest devices available. Compensation is also available for lost wages, in the event that the victim can no longer work or must accept a lower-paying position in a different environment.
Additional compensation is available in many hearing loss claims. Frequently, employers know that an environment is so noisy that it could seriously affect worker health. Yet they do not provide ear protection or do not adequately explain why workers should wear earplugs. Employers who are reckless or callous in this way might also be financially responsible for pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment in life, and other noneconomic losses.
Connect with an Experienced Attorney
Work-related hearing loss victims might be entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in New Orleans, contact Lunsford, Baskin & Priebe, PLLC. We routinely handle matters in Mississippi and Louisiana.