Incidents involving sudden exposure to loud or high-pitched sounds through a telephone headset are referred to as ‘acoustic shock’. Importantly, if you’ve suffered acoustic shock and believe your employer or somebody else is to blame, you may be eligible to make an acoustic shock claim for compensation.
We are here to assist you with explaining your options for making an acoustic shock claim. Our specially trained advisors will provide a no-obligation consultation, thoroughly reviewing your claim with you. If they believe your claim has a fair chance of success, they could refer you to one of our personal injury solicitors. It’s worth noting that our service is provided on a No Win No Fee basis, meaning there are no legal fees unless you receive compensation.
To find out more about claiming compensation for an acoustic shock injury, please continue reading. Alternatively, you can call our advisors straight away on 0800 6524 881 if you’re ready to proceed.
Table of contents
- What Is Acoustic Shock?
- Who Is At Risk Of Suffering From Acoustic Shock?
- Am I Eligible To Make An Acoustic Shock Injury Claim?
- Preventing Acoustic Shock In The Workplace
- How Much Compensation For Acoustic Shock Could I Claim?
- Evidence To Support An Acoustic Shock Claim
- Time Limits For Claiming Acoustic Shock Compensation
- Starting The Acoustic Shock Claims Process
Acoustic shock is the term given for a condition that is characterised by various symptoms such as pain and discomfort around the ear, tinnitus, and hearing difficulty that result from exposure to sudden and intense loud sounds.
Exposure to these sudden, intense or high-pitched loud sounds causes a strong muscle contraction in the middle ear. The eardrum can rupture, or other injuries in the inner ear can occur. This can lead to an array of symptoms that, if they continue, could eventually result in permanent tinnitus, hearing loss or other acoustic trauma issues.
There is a range of acoustic shock symptoms, some are quite mild, whereas others can be more severe. Some of the symptoms may go away after some time, but sometimes they can become permanent. A person suffering from acoustic shock may experience one or more of the following:
- Difficulty joining in conversations due to voices sounding muffled.
- Partial or complete loss of hearing.
- Tinnitus – This is constant or intermittent buzzing or whistling type sounds in the ear.
- Hypersensitivity to sound.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- The feeling of pressure in the ear that can be either intermittent or constant.
- Nausea and fatigue.
- Sleep disturbances.
- Resultant psychological issues.
Acoustic shock does not always result in hearing loss or deafness. However, any of the symptoms above can cause significant physical and emotional distress, which can lower the quality of life.
Anybody who is wearing a headset or similar device is at a greater risk of being exposed to sudden, high-pitched sounds and therefore has a higher chance of developing acoustic shock. People who work in call centres, dispatch, customer service and the emergency services, and also those who use telephone headsets for personal and professional reasons, are therefore in a higher risk category for developing acoustic shock.
Some people may be more susceptible than others to the effects of acoustic shock, these include people that may already suffer from symptoms of tinnitus or already have a history of ear problems.
If you have suffered from an acoustic shock injury that could otherwise have been prevented, you may be eligible to make a claim for acoustic shock compensation.
Before starting an acoustic shock compensation claim, a personal injury solicitor will first need to verify that the following is true:
- That the defendant (typically an employer) owed the claimant a duty of care; and
- That the defendant was negligent in their actions and therefore failed in their duty of care; and
- Due to the defendant’s negligence, the claimant suffered acoustic shock.
Depending on the circumstances, a duty of care may be established in different ways. For example, for injuries sustained at work, the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 may apply.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 was established to protect workers from all types of risks in the workplace. The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 specifically addresses risks pertaining to hearing.
In order to comply with both of these regulations, employers are required to put reasonable measures in place to reduce the impact of loud noises in the workplace. These measures may include:
- Making sure that all equipment is well maintained to prevent high-pitched sounds typically from faulty equipment.
- Use sound absorption materials to muffle loud noises.
- Educate employees as to the risks of loud noises and how to protect themselves.
- Provide workers with adequate hearing protection.
If your employer made no effort to reduce the risk of acoustic shock, nor did they provide you with the necessary training or personal protective equipment, they may be deemed to be acting negligently. If you suffered from acoustic shock because of this negligence, you may have grounds for pursuing an acoustic shock compensation claim.
When determining the settlement amount for an acoustic shock compensation claim, various elements need to be taken into consideration to make sure that you receive an appropriate amount of compensation that reflects your pain and suffering.
There are two types of damages that we look at when making a claim. General damages which refer to the physical and psychological effects of your injury and loss of amenity, and special damages which refer to any financial expenses or losses as a direct result of your injury.
Things to consider when deciding on the settlement amount can include:
- The severity of your acoustic shock injury.
- The level of pain and suffering you have endured.
- Any loss of amenity.
- Future prognosis.
- Medical expenses – These may include prescription and treatment costs for example.
- Travel expenses – These may include the cost of travel to and from medical appointments, treatment, pharmacy visits etc.
- Care costs – If you have needed care support or help in the home whilst recovering from your injury, any costs involved may be included.
- Income and benefits losses – Any income lost or predicted to be lost may be included. Also, any promotions or bonuses that have been missed due to your acoustic shock injury should be considered.
If you contact us to make an acoustic shock injury claim, your personal injury solicitor will make sure that all factors are considered before coming to a final settlement amount.
Although your solicitor will need to physically add up all of your expenses and losses to calculate what compensation you can claim for special damages there are guidelines they can refer to for general damages acoustic shock injuries. These are as follows:
- £90,750 to £109,650 for total deafness.
- £31,310 to £45,540 for total hearing loss in one ear.
- £29,710 to £45,540 for severe Tinnitus + hearing loss.
- £14,900 to £29,710 for moderate Tinnitus + hearing loss.
- £12,590 to £14,900 for mild Tinnitus & some hearing loss.
- In the region of £11,720 for mild Tinnitus only, or mild hearing loss only.
- £7,360 to £12,590 for light Tinnitus & slight hearing loss.
- Up to £7,010 for slight hearing loss only, or slight Tinnitus only –
Your solicitor will research precedents to ask for the maximum amount of compensation that is due to you for your acoustic shock claim.
If you decide to go ahead with pursuing a claim for acoustic shock compensation, it is important to have evidence that proves your injury was due to negligence and that the defendant was to blame. Information that could be used as evidence may include:
- Medical reports. You should see a medical professional as soon as possible to have your acoustic shock injury assessed to ensure you receive the appropriate medical treatment. A solicitor will be able to access your medical report at a later date when required.
- Audio evidence. Any audio recordings or simulations of the sound levels you were exposed to, could be used to support the link between your injury and the responsible party’s negligence.
- Accident report forms. If you’ve suffered acoustic shock at work, you should have reported the incident and filled out an accident report. Ask for a copy of the report.
- Finacnial documentation. Proof of medical expenses, lost income, and any other financial losses incurred as a result of the acoustic shock injury could be used to support your claim.
- Witnesses. Make a note of any witnesses’ contact details in case they need to be contacted at a later date for a witness statement. This might also include statements from work colleagues, friends, family members, or healthcare professionals who can attest to the impact the acoustic shock has had on your daily life and well-being.
You could also write a diary to keep track of what happened, what treatment you have had, and how it has affected you in your daily life.
Gathering evidence as soon as possible is best as this gives you more time to collect sufficient evidence and make sure that nothing important is forgotten.
The Limitation Act 1980 in the UK specifies a time limit of 3 years in which to start a personal injury claim for acoustic shock. The 3 years will typically start from either:
- The date you suffered the acoustic shock injury; or
- The date when your injury was diagnosed.
If you are considering starting a compensation claim for acoustic shock, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. Compensation claims cases can be complex and take anywhere between a few months to over a year to conclude. By starting your claim as early as possible, it should give ample time to gather all the evidence needed to build a strong case, giving you a better chance of securing the maximum compensation amount.
Pursuing a compensation claim for acoustic shock can be a complex and lengthy process, therefore we recommend seeking legal advice and appointing a personal injury solicitor so that you have the best chance of receiving the compensation that you deserve.
We offer a free consultation where you can discuss the details of your case with an experienced advisor. They will be able to assess whether you have a strong case and if so put you in touch with one of our personal injury solicitors.
Having a legal representative needn’t be costly. Our solicitors work on a No Win No Fee basis. This means that if you choose to appoint one of our solicitors to pursue your claim on your behalf, there will be no upfront costs to pay. Once the claim has concluded, if successful, we will deduct an agreed percentage of the awarded amount as payment to cover our legal costs. If the claim is unsuccessful, however, we will not ask for any payment at all.
The quickest way to start the acoustic shock claims process is to contact our expert advisors by calling 0800 6524 881 today.