Workers’ Compensation for Hearing Loss and Tinnitus
You need an attorney who will fight for your rights, start to finish
There are few things that can affect a worker more pervasively than hearing loss. It affects your ability to communicate, your relationships, and the activities you love. It’s also permanent: once you lose your hearing, there’s no getting it back.
Hearing loss is a quite common problem, and for many people, it’s also a work injury. California’s workers’ compensation system provides benefits for people who lost their hearing at work, but the process is complicated and often controversial. The workers’ compensation lawyers at McLaughlin & Sanchez can fight for your rights.
The three types of hearing loss at work
Broadly speaking, there are three types of work-related hearing loss. The first is called traumatic hearing loss, which is immediate hearing loss caused by a sudden traumatic event – either an extremely loud noise, such as an explosion or gunshot, or a direct injury to the ear itself. If this happens at work, proving the injury was work-related is usually not too difficult.
The second and most common type is exposure to loud noise over an extended period of time. People who work in loud environments, such as manufacturing, construction, or entertainment, are exposed to significant amounts of noise every day, and as that exposure builds up over time, it can cause hearing loss, deafness or tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
The problem with occupational hearing loss claims is that it’s not always clear the hearing loss is work-related. Some people develop hearing loss because of non-occupational exposure or just as a natural result of aging. This means there is room for the insurance company to dispute whether your hearing loss is really work-related and thus whether it’s covered by workers’ compensation.
The third way to lose your hearing at work is through exposure to ototoxic substances; that is, chemical poisons that can damage the ear. Some common ototoxic substances include industrial solvents like carbon disulfide, ethylbenzene, styrene, toluene, trichloroethylene and xylene, as well as lead, mercury and carbon monoxide. Complicating matters further, many workers have “dual exposure” to ototoxins and excessive noise, which can cause hearing problems together even if the noise and toxins individually are within exposure limits.
How workers’ compensation for hearing loss works
To get workers’ comp for hearing loss, you first need to prove that you have a partial or total hearing loss. Usually this requires a medical examination by an ENT physician or an audiologist as well as “audiometric” testing to measure the amount of hearing loss. Based on this measurement, you will be assigned a percentage of hearing loss.
Then, you need to prove that your hearing loss was work-related. Again, this can be a contentious process. The insurance company may try to blame age, pre-existing conditions, drug use, hobbies or even other employers. That’s why it’s so critical that you have a workers’ compensation attorney who has experience and a strong track record in hearing loss cases.
We have the experience and resources needed to thoroughly investigate hearing loss claims. Our legal team will help you present the right documentation to show that your hearing loss was caused by your job and advocate for the full benefits you deserve under California law.
Take action quickly. There are key deadlines that have to be met in the workers’ compensation process, and the sooner you get an attorney on your side, the stronger your claim will be. Contact us today to discuss your hearing loss with an experienced San Diego workers’ compensation attorney.