Workers’ Compensation Investigations and What They Look For
Hearing loss compensation amounts vary from one case to another. The compensation amount you might receive depends on the circumstances that led to your hearing loss, its severity, and its impact on your everyday life. The amount of compensation you can receive for hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in ears) claims differs depending on the extent of loss and severity. Other factors also play a significant role.
Both short and long-term exposure to dangerous noise levels at the workplace might contribute to hearing loss. Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is a common occurrence in many industries. Hearing loss is often more pronounced in the mining, firefighting, military, entertainment, medical, and carpentry sectors. Employees may also develop hearing loss in oil and gas extraction, construction, agriculture, and manufacturing sectors.
Hearing loss adversely affects your well-being and future earning capabilities. It ranks as the third most common cause of chronic physical work-related illness in the U.S. People with hearing impairments have a difficult time getting jobs. And, even when they get employed, their salaries are significantly lower than those of their normal-hearing counterparts. Employees with mild and severe hearing loss make around $15,000 to $31,000 less per year compared to those with normal hearing.
Over 30 million American workers get exposed to noise levels of more than 85-120 decibels (dBA) at their workplaces. As per the CDC, this exposure causes permanent hearing loss in over 20,000 U.S. workers annually.
Over time, this noise exposure impacts the workers' hearing. It also lowers the affected workers' productivity, performance, and well-being. Noisy environments also pose a significant safety hazard to workers. You risk causing accidents or getting into accidents if you cannot hear warning alarms and signals while in a busy industrial plant.
Although the law mandates all employers to provide safeguards to protect the workers' hearing, these regulations are not always observed. Some employers disregard these safety standards out of ignorance. Others act out of pure negligence. Either way, the workers who develop hearing loss due to exposure to unhealthy noise levels have the right to file workers’ comp claims. Affected employees can also sue their employers if employers do not have workers’ comp coverage.
Employers must set up reasonable accommodations to protect the hearing staff and those with hearing challenges. Don’t hold back from requesting your employer to put in place protective measures. If you are operating in noisy environments, it is the responsibility of your employer to provide noise protection gear at all times.
Many employees with pre-existing hearing difficulties often opt not to disclose the conditions or even put on hearing aids on the job. These workers fear the stigmatization and reprimand associated with these conditions. Failing to wear the necessary protective gear may cause or worsen a hearing impairment.
Workers can accommodate or prevent work-related hearing loss by doing the following:
Request your employer to have Hearing Aid Compatible (HAC) cellphones or telephones installed at the office.
Encourage your workmates to use summaries and memos alongside the conversations to ensure you do not miss out on anything.
Regularly switching between tasks that involve too much noise to the less noisy ones. This can help minimize your exposure to unhealthy noise levels. Taking breaks from sources of harmful noise can also reduce your risk of developing hearing loss.
Put on protective gear to protect your hearing when working in noisy environments. Silencers, screens, and barriers are examples of noise-absorbent gear.
Encourage your employer to organize workshops whereby employees can learn how to protect themselves from unhealthy noises.
Disclose your Condition
Be honest with your employer if you already have an underlying hearing condition. Do not hide your hearing loss. Doing that will only exacerbate your condition. Your employer must find a way to accommodate you if the employer is aware of your condition.
Request your employer to invest in emergency assistive technology like multiple frequency alarms, vibrating pagers, and strobe lights to alert you at all times. Other technologies to facilitate a smooth working experience for hearing-impaired staff include Computer Assisted Realtime Translation (CART) devices, PSAPs or personal sound amplification products, and flashing light phones.
Failing to protect yourself from dangerous noise levels or insist that your employer puts up these protective measures can be your undoing. Exposure to harmful noise levels will increase your risk of developing hearing loss. This condition can leave you struggling with treatment costs and impede your ability to secure well-paying jobs in the future.
If you have suffered a work-related hearing loss in Iowa, you might ask, “what benefits are available through workers’ compensation?” You must prove that your hearing loss stems directly from a workplace accident or condition to be eligible for workers’ comp. You can do that by presenting evidence that your workplace exposed you to harmful noises constantly.
Your employer and workers’ comp insurer may try to find an alternative explanation for your hearing loss. They may argue that factors like age, underlying conditions, previous health issues, or personal activities caused your hearing loss.
You may collect different types of benefits if you can demonstrate that your work directly contributed to your hearing loss. You might be entitled to medical treatment and medical devices, like hearing aids, to rectify your hearing problem. You might also collect temporary or permanent disability benefits to cover the lost wages or lost earning potential caused by the hearing loss.
Proving a hearing loss claim can be an uphill task. Hearing loss problems usually develop over time. Working with a workers’ compensation attorney with a demonstrated history of handling cases like yours maximizes your likelihood of securing workers’ comp benefits for work-related hearing loss. Such an attorney will help you gather sufficient evidence to prove your work directly caused your hearing loss.
The attorney reviews your employment letter to determine if you qualify for benefits under Iowa workers' compensation. The attorney then organizes for you to complete an independent medical examination. This test helps the attorney determine whether a direct link exists between your work and hearing loss.
The attorney compiles information about your work history and the essential duties of your position. The attorney determines whether your employer offered you the necessary protective gear if your job exposed you to loud noises. The attorney also reviews other safety precautions taken by your employer to ensure your safety and well-being in the workplace.
Your attorney may interview your coworkers to gather more information about the safety measures implemented by your employer. Witness statements help show that your hearing loss is job-related. They can also show that your employer failed to protect you from harmful noises at work.
No two hearing loss claims are the same. Factors like evidence available, the extent of the hearing loss, and the impact of the condition on your daily life influence the compensation amounts.
Iowa operates on a set formula for determining the settlement for hearing loss claims. Workers are entitled to compensation if their job led to a hearing impairment or aggravated an existing hearing condition. The compensation includes the workers' lost wages and medical benefits. Workers receive the maximum payout for complete loss of hearing in both ears.
An affected worker must prove that his or her hearing loss is a direct result of harmful noises in the workplace or employers’ negligence. The injured worker must provide a medical report to support his or her case. Most importantly, the injured worker has to demonstrate how the hearing loss and/or tinnitus has and will continue to adversely affect his or her earning capabilities and health to maximize the compensation.
You may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if you develop a work-related hearing loss. The compensation amount depends on the strength of your claim, the extent of your hearing loss, and the impact of the hearing loss on your life. A workers’ comp attorney can help you prove your eligibility for these benefits and maximize your compensation. The attorney can address your concerns every step of the way, including predicting how long your workers’ compensation case will take.