Hearing loss is a complicated medical issue that can be temporary or permanent. Workers’ Compensation can also be confusing for many people. The complexities of the legal and medical worlds can be hard to navigate, but the information below should help to clarify some of the options and considerations for workers with hearing loss.
Workers’ Compensation is available to any employee who suffers a work injury or disability on the job site or as a result of job duties. It is a way to help cover medical bills and lost wages after a work-related injury.
Workplace accidents are very common. Injuries can occur for many reasons and in various industries. Most people probably think about injuries from construction site accidents; however, workplace injuries can result in other ways. Prolonged standing, frequent lifting, and other routine aspects of the job can lead to work-related health issues.
Hearing loss does not have to be permanent, the severity depends on the nature of the injury. Hearing problems related to short-term injury may last for days, weeks, months, or years. These also can be injuries that heal on their own over time, or they might require treatments or therapies to fix the damage.
When it comes to Workers’ Compensation, specific rules and laws can vary by location. Typically, individuals suffering from temporary hearing loss can receive short-term disability benefits at 70 percent of average weekly earnings.
Permanent Partial Disability
In some cases, hearing loss can be permanent. This might not be full hearing loss, but it is enough to prevent the individual from completing their job duties without accommodations. Individuals who suffer from serious injuries that cause permanent effects but can still engage in limited work are considered to have permanent partial disabilities. These individuals will often receive 70 percent of their average weekly wages.
Which Injuries Cause Hearing Loss?
Typically, people associate hearing loss with an ear injury. This is especially true when discussing Workers’ Compensation. Ear injuries, however, are significantly more complicated. The ear and all of its components are very complex and can be damaged in numerous ways. It is also important to note that different types of injuries can require different treatments. Types of injuries and issues that can lead to hearing loss include:
- Damage to the eardrum
- Damage to the inner ear
- Blood clots in the outer ear
- Fluid or blood in the middle ear
- Dislocation of the ossicles
- Cauliflower ear
What are the Different Types of Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss can result from a variety of factors, and it can also vary in the way it is assessed and understood medically. Types of hearing loss are divided into three categories, depending on the part of the ear involved:
- Conductive: An injury that affects the outer or middle ear.
- Sensorineural: An injury involving the inner ear.
- Mixed: Issues involving a combination of the two.
To determine the level of hearing loss and how impaired a person is, a doctor may order an audiogram. This test shows the degree of hearing loss by looking at the range of decibels a patient can hear. The range shown will fall somewhere within the following:
- Normal Hearing: The range of 0 to 20 decibels. People with normal hearing can make out sounds as faint as human breathing, which measures about 10 decibels.
- Mild Hearing Loss: The range is 21 to 40 decibels.
- Moderate Hearing Loss: This range is 41 to 55 decibels.
- Moderately Severe Hearing Loss: The range is 56 to 70 decibels.
- Severe Hearing Loss: This range is 71 to 90 decibels.
- Profound Hearing Loss: Greater than 90 decibels. People with severe to profound hearing loss will have trouble hearing speech, although they can make out loud noises.
Workplace Environmental Factors That Can Contribute to Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can result from environmental issues. In a workplace, these issues may include:
- Especially loud workplaces
- Exposure to damaging chemicals
- Extreme temperatures
- Exposure to dirt, dust, and other contaminants
Workers’ Compensation is a No-Fault System
Workers’ Compensation law can be confusing because most people tend to think of compensation in terms of fault. However, Workers’ Compensation operates on a no-fault system and does not require the same steps for proving criminal or civil liability. However, if an employer is shown to be negligent, an employee could have legal recourse outside of traditional Workers’ Compensation. It is important to understand the distinction between the two.
Laws on Workers’ Compensation and workplace injuries can be complicated. The complexity increases when dealing with issues like hearing loss. Laws may differ significantly based on the state and job classification. It is always in the best interest of a victim to familiarize themselves with local laws and to seek out the guidance of a legal expert.
Vineland Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at DiTomaso Law Assist Clients with Work-Related Hearing Loss
For anyone who has experienced hearing loss, it can be a challenge to deal with. When hearing loss results from the workplace, it is important to know your rights and your options. A knowledgeable Vineland Workers’ Compensation lawyer at DiTomaso Law is available to help you with your case. For a free consultation, call us at 856-414-0010 or complete our online form. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Mt. Holly, Camden County, and Vineland.