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Can You Be Compensated for Workplace Hearing Loss?

Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers discuss compensation for workplace hearing loss. The short answer to this question is Yes. Compensation for hearing loss has been a part of Workers’ Compensation from its earliest days.

But the definition of hearing loss and the methods used to assess its severity, and then compensate for it, are different in every state.

Common Noise Levels

Noises can be damaging to hearing whether they are loud in a single moment, or because they affect hearing over an extended period. Noise is measured in decibels (dB).

The hum of a desktop computer is typically about 30dB. Driving in heavy traffic with the windows down is about 80 to 85dB. At these levels, it is the constant nature of the noise that can undermine hearing.

Workplace noises can get much louder. Landscapers with mowers roaring put up with 90 decibels. An oncoming subway train tops 100dB. Police sirens are up to 110dB. Factory noises can exceed 120dB.

Damage May Occur

Constant lower noise levels or short-term high levels can damage the hair cells deep in the ear. Once these cells are damaged, full hearing is unlikely to come back.

It is important to note that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employee noise exposure limits of 90dB for 8 hours a day, and 2 hours of exposure to 100dB.

Hearing loss can also be the result of exposure to certain chemicals as well.

Delaware and Pennsylvania Have Different Formulas

Both states provide injured workers with one of the following when hearing loss occurs:

  • Temporary total disability benefits
  • Partial disability benefits
  • Permanent and total disability benefits

In Delaware there is a maximum of 175 weeks of benefits for total hearing loss in both ears. Workers suffering a partial loss of hearing in both ears can receive a percentage of 175 weeks, consistent with the degree of hearing lost. Total loss of hearing in one ear is compensated for 75 weeks.

Pennsylvania follows a different formula. Permanent hearing loss is considered to be 10 percent or more, and awarded 66.66 percent of your wages for 260 weeks for each 10 percent of hearing loss. Thus, if you suffer 20 percent hearing loss you can expect to be compensated up to 520 weeks.

Compensation Is Not a Slam Dunk

Employers and insurance companies often resist hearing loss claims. They will want you to demonstrate that your hearing loss is truly work-related, that it is not simply due to your age, attending loud concerts, or playing the radio too loudly in your car or some other matter.

They may claim that they provided protective gear to protect your ears. In fact, hearing loss claims are easier to prove when employers acknowledge that noise where you work is at dangerous levels.

Employers with noisy work areas may ask you to take an audiology exam prior to starting work. But even if you did start working with a degree of hearing loss, they may still be on the hook for a worsening of your condition.

Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Seek Justice for Workers Who Experience Hearing Loss

If you have lost hearing on the job, Workers’ Compensation is there for you. But the system can be a frustrating maze to work through. The Wilmington workplace injury lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC can help you crack the bureaucracy and get you the money you need.

Located in Wilmington, Delaware, we serve clients throughout the state, including those in DoverNewark, and Middletown. We also have offices in Pennsylvania and New JerseyFor a free consultation contact us online or call us at 302-888-1221.