Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) can have a huge impact on all areas of a person’s life, including their family, social and work life. In some cases, it may be severe enough to affect the individual’s ability to work and earn a living. Importantly, however, if you have suffered from NIHL due to being exposed to excessively loud noises through no fault of your own, you may be eligible to make a noise-induced hearing loss claim for compensation.
In the guide, we’ll explain how noise-induced hearing loss can occur, who is at risk and what can be done to prevent it, and how much compensation for NIHL might be claimed if negligence can be proven.
If you’d like to begin an NIHL claim right away, please get in touch with us on 0800 6524 881. Alternatively, please continue reading for more information on the claims process.
Table of contents
- What Is Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?
- Am I Eligible To Make A Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Claim?
- Who Is At Most Risk Of Suffering Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?
- Minimising The Risks Of NIHL In The Workplace
- How Much Compensation For Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Could I Claim?
- What Evidence Will Support A Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Claim?
- Time Limits For Claiming NIHL Compensation
- How Long Will My Claim Take?
- Starting The Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Claims Process
Noise-induced hearing loss is a type of hearing loss that can occur in one or both ears. It’s caused by being exposed to loud noise over a period of time, and unfortunately, in most cases NIHL is permanent. When the hair cells in the inner ear are subjected to prolonged exposure to loud noises, they become damaged. Sound signals normally get transmitted to the brain by the hair cells, but once damaged, they may not function properly, which then leads to hearing loss.
Exposure to noise levels above 85 dB (decibels) for prolonged periods can cause hearing damage. For example, exposure to sounds at 85 dB for eight hours a day can cause hearing damage, while exposure to sounds at 100 dB for just 15 minutes can also cause hearing damage.
Noise-induced hearing loss can be caused by exposure to loud noise in the workplace, such as machinery, power tools, or heavy equipment. It can also be caused by exposure to loud music, whether in the workplace or during leisure activities such as concerts or using headphones at high volumes.
There are four main points that will need to be verified by a personal injury solicitor on our team before they can begin a noise-induced hearing loss claim. These factors are:
- You were owed a duty of care by the defendant (usually an employer); and
- The defendant acted negligently in preventing exposure to loud noise; and
- You suffered noise-induced hearing loss due to this negligence; and
- You are within the three-year limitation period.
Generally, all four factors will need to be true if a claim is to be pursued. If you are unsure as to whether you are eligible to make a noise-induced hearing loss claim, please feel free to contact us for legal advice.
Anybody who works in a noisy environment is at high risk of suffering from hearing issues. Also at high risk of noise-induced hearing loss are those whose job involves operating loud machinery such as concrete breakers, compressors, grinders, drills, saws, pneumatic tools, and presses.
It’s not just high-decibel sounds that affect hearing. High-intensity, high-frequency sounds such as those heard through a telephone headset can also cause hearing loss from acoustic shock. Call centre employees who have their headsets on for extended periods of time are particularly vulnerable to experiencing impaired hearing.
Other high-risk industries include:
- Road drilling.
- Quarrying and stone cutting.
- Car manufacturing.
- Metal plating.
It’s not just loud noises in the workplace that can damage your hearing. You could lose your hearing after exposure to loud noise in places including shopping centres, supermarkets and restaurants, concerts, nightclubs, airshows and more. If you suffer hearing loss due to negligence in any of these places then you may be eligible to make a noise-induced hearing loss claim for compensation.
Depending on the frequency of exposure to loud noises, and the severity of the condition, the symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss can vary. Some of the common symptoms may include:
- Difficulty hearing in environments that are noisy.
- Hissing, buzzing and ringing sounds in the ears (typical of tinnitus).
- Distorted or muffled hearing.
- Difficulty with understanding speech, particularly when in noisy environments.
- Needing to turn the volume up higher than normal on the television, radio, phone etc.
- Avoiding or withdrawing from social situations because of increased difficulty with hearing and communicating.
- Feeling tired or stressed due to the extra effort required trying to hear and communicate effectively with other people.
Symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss aren’t always noticeable straightaway as the damage can progress gradually over time.
If you have started to notice a loss of hearing or associated symptoms, it’s important to visit your GP for a diagnosis and to discuss any treatment options available to you. A diagnosis will be vital if you decide to proceed with an NIHL claim.
Loud noise is common in all of the industries mentioned earlier and many others too. Unfortunately, noisy machinery is an integral part of many of these industries. There is no substitute for the high-powered equipment and heavy machines that produce these noises. While not much can currently be done to muffle those noises lower than they already are, employers can put measures in place to protect their workers’ hearing. If you have suffered deafness due to the industry you have been working in then you may like to refer to the following advice on industrial deafness claims.
Several pieces of legislation have been introduced over the years to protect workers’ safety. The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 covers all types of risks that workers are exposed to in various environments. The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 covers all aspects of noise in the workplace. According to these regulations, employers have a duty of care to ensure that workers are protected from noise-induced hearing loss due to excessive noise in the workplace.
The average legal limit for noise levels in the workplace is in the range of 80-85 decibels. Employers are required under the law to measure the level of noise in their environment and put measures in place if the levels are above the legal limit.
Some actions employers can take to minimise the risk of noise-induced hearing loss at work include:
- Using quieter equipment where possible.
- Providing workers who work in noisy environments with personal protective equipment such as ear plugs or noise-cancelling headphones.
- Installing absorbent materials to dampen the sound where possible.
- Installing sound barriers to keep the loud noises out wherever possible.
- Devising work schedules or shorter work periods that allow workers to get sufficient breaks from the persistent noise.
If your employer fails to comply with the legal requirements and you suffer from NIHL as a result, you may be able to pursue a noise-induced hearing loss claim for compensation.
As explained above, your employer has a legal duty to provide a safe working environment, including protecting employees from excessive noise exposure. It’s also against the law for an employer to discriminate against an employee for making a legitimate NIHL claim for compensation.
Your employer should have employers’ liability insurance to cover the cost of any compensation awarded, so your claim will not be paid directly by your employer.
If you have any concerns on this specifically, please contact our claims advisors and they can advise you accordingly.
When determining how much compensation for NIHL a claimant should be paid, a personal injury solicitor will typically need to consider two different groups of damages, these are:
- General Damages – These are the physical and psychological aspects of the claim and include:
- The level of pain and suffering endured.
- Loss of amenity.
- Emotional trauma.
- Future prognosis.
- Special Damages – These are the financial aspects of the claim, such as:
- Costs of medical care for NIHL such as private healthcare costs, prescription costs, or treatment costs for example.
- Costs of travelling to and from medical or treatment appointments.
- Loss of income. This may also include any missed promotion opportunities or bonuses as a result of being injured.
- Care costs. If you have needed extra help or care around the home, these costs are taken into account.
- Home/vehicle adaptions. If you have needed any adaptions to your home or vehicle to better cope with NIHL, these costs may be taken into account.
Any type of loss, be it physical, emotional, or financial, that is a result of noise-induced hearing loss, should be taken into consideration when deciding the compensation award amount. If you are unsure of what may be included, please speak with a personal injury solicitor from our team and they will be able to assist you.
The compensation amounts below are based on general damages compensation guidelines from the Judicial College. Compensation for special damages, where applicable, is not taken into account and therefore any compensation payout may vary from the figures shown.
- Up to £7,010 compensation where there is slight hearing loss only/slight tinnitus only.
- £7,360 to £12,590 compensation where there is slight hearing loss and slight tinnitus.
- In the region of £11,720 compensation for mild tinnitus only/mild hearing loss only.
- £12,590 to £14,900 compensation where there is some hearing loss and mild tinnitus.
- £14,900 to £29,710 compensation where there is hearing loss and moderate tinnitus.
- £29,710 – £45,540 compensation where there is hearing loss and severe tinnitus.
- £31,310 – £45,540 compensation where complete hearing loss occurs in one ear.
- £90,750 – £109,650 compensation for total deafness.
Our advice for determining the potential settlement amount you could claim for NIHL is to call us on 0800 6524 881 for a free consultation with our advisors.
All NIHL claims require evidence that backs up the claimant’s version of events and therefore it’s best to start gathering as much evidence as you can that will support your claim. Some examples of useful evidence include:
- Medical report. A copy of your medical report detailing your noise-induced hearing loss diagnosis is an essential piece of evidence.
- Witness contact details. Take down the contact details of any witnesses such as work colleagues who can provide statements about the noise levels in the workplace and the measures taken by your employer to protect employees from noise exposure.
- Video evidence. Videos or recordings showing the level of noise you were subjected to that has resulted in your injury.
- Diary of symptoms and impact. Keep a diary of how NIHL has occurred and the impact it has had on your life.
- Record of financial impact. Keep a record of any income losses and also receipts from any expenses resulting from your condition.
A personal injury solicitor from our team can advise on what other evidence will be helpful in supporting your NIHL claim. If you choose to have a solicitor pursue your claim for you, they can help to gather the evidence on your behalf, making sure everything is covered.
In the UK, there is a time limit in which a compensation claim needs to have commenced according to the Limitation Act 1980. For noise-induced hearing loss claims, the time limit is typically 3 years from either, when the hearing loss occurred, or from the date NIHL was diagnosed.
If the individual is a child, you could make a claim on their behalf as a litigation friend, at any time until their 18th birthday. If no claim is made, they themselves have the option to make an NIHL claim once they turn 18. They will then have 3 years from their 18th birthday to make their claim.
With time limits in place, it’s important to start your claim as soon as you can to give yourself, or your solicitor, plenty of time to gather as much evidence as possible to build a strong case. If you are unsure when your time limit began, give us a call and a personal injury solicitor can advise you on this.
Depending on various factors such as how complex the case is, the types of evidence available, how willing the defendant is to accept they are to blame etc, the length of time it takes to settle a noise-induced hearing loss claim can vary considerably. The entire process might only take a matter of months for clear-cut cases whereas more complex NIHL claims may take well over a year or more to reach a settlement.
If you speak with a personal injury solicitor from our team they could provide a more accurate estimate of how long your NIHL claim might take based on the specific circumstances of your case.
If you have decided to pursue a claim for compensation for NIHL, we strongly advise you to seek legal advice as soon as possible. We offer a free, no-obligation, consultation where you can talk through your case with a member of our team. They will be able to assess your case and advise you of your options.
If they believe you have a viable claim, they will put you in touch with one of our expert personal injury solicitors. Once you have spoken with the solicitor, they may make an offer to take on your NIHL claim using a No Win No Fee agreement.
Our No Win No Fee agreement essentially works exactly as it sounds. If we don’t win the case, you don’t pay any fee. If we win the case, you pay an agreed percentage of the compensation awarded to you. Not having to worry about fees and other legal formalities can be a huge relief, especially when you’re already grappling with your hearing impairment.
To learn more about the noise-induced hearing loss claims process, please call today on 0800 6524 881, or use our live chat service or a callback form on the page to get in touch today.