Tinnitus Compensation Claims
Most people will have experienced mild, short-term periods of tinnitus at some point in their lives, particularly after being exposed to loud music at a concert or nightclub for example. It can often be described as an annoying ‘ringing in the ears’. For some people, this noise is not short lived, and suffering from tinnitus can have a serious impact on their everyday life and enjoyment.
If you have been diagnosed with tinnitus, and you feel that your condition has been caused by loud noises within the workplace, you may have a valid claim for injury compensation. This is because your employer has a duty of care to provide you with a safe environment to work in, and to take reasonable steps to prevent damage being caused to your health and wellbeing.
To find out if you are eligible to make a tinnitus compensation claim, call 0800 678 1410 or request a call back to receive a free claim assessment. A friendly and experienced injury lawyer will call you back to discuss your case. They will ask you a few questions about the work you do, the type of noise exposure you have experienced and how the company you work for may have been at fault. They will also ask about the injury that has been caused to your hearing and the impact that this has had on your life.
Your solicitor will provide a no win no fee service. So if you are entitled to make a claim for tinnitus, you can do so without putting yourself and your family at any financial risk. If your solicitor is unable to win your claim, you won’t pay them a penny.
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a condition that affects the hearing and presents symptoms such as ringing, or other kinds of noises heard in the ear when there is no external source producing the noise. Tinnitus can be caused as a result of an ear injury, circulatory system problems or by being exposed to loud noise over an extended period of time.
There are variants in the type of tinnitus that a sufferer might be diagnosed with. They include:
- Tonal tinnitus – this form of tinnitus is perhaps the most well known and results in the predominant symptom of ‘ringing’ in the ears. When a person suffers from tonal tinnitus, they may hear a continuous sound instead of intermittent or pulsating sound.
- Pulsating tinnitus – with this condition people will hear intermittent sounds which usually beat in time with their pulse.
Apart from ringing, people who have developed tinnitus may experience other kinds of noises as well. According to the NHS, some of the known sounds that people with tinnitus can experience include beeping, whistling, hissing, buzzing and humming noises.
In minor cases of tinnitus, the noises experienced can be slightly uncomfortable and irritating. These conditions will normally get better over time without requiring any specific treatment. However, for some people, these noises can cause significant distress and affect many aspects of their life. It can cause sleeping difficulty, depression and affect their concentration, and they may be unable to continue in their usual job role.
Potential causes of tinnitus
Although there are many possible causes of tinnitus, being exposed to excessive noise at work is one of the most common. Health and Safety laws, such as the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005, have been introduced in recent hears to help provide additional protection to workers. These regulations, along with a more prominent regard for workplace health and safety in general, have contributed to provide safer working environments within most industries.
However, there are still instances where employers may cut corners or fail to take sufficient steps to safeguard their workers against the dangers posed by working within a noisy environment. It is under these circumstances that a person is more likely to develop tinnitus and other hearing problems such as industrial deafness.
Workers who are considered at a greater risk from suffering tinnitus include those working in industries such as engineering, construction, manufacturing, aviation, printing, shipbuilding and steel works. People who work in call centres using headsets are also at risk of acoustic shock, which is a sudden burst of high-frequency noise, and which often leads to the development of tinnitus.
What steps should employers take to prevent damage to hearing
As mentioned above, an employer has a duty of care under UK health and safety laws to provide their employees (and visitors) with a safe environment within which to carry out their work. Where an employer breaches this duty of care, and it results in injury or illness being sustained by an employee, they are liable to pay damages under personal injury law.
In respect to hearing damage and protecting employees from noise, an employer must do the following under the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005:
- Assess noise levels by conducting detailed risk assessments
- Determine if particular employees are at risk of injury
- Implement safety measures to keep noise below the legal level (80 to 85 decibels). This could include the provision of ear plugs and other PPE, the use of quieter equipment and implementing regular breaks.
- Provide appropriate training and education to staff so they are fully aware of the risks posed by loud noise in the workplace and how to minimise the dangers caused
- Regularly monitor the hearing ability of employees by providing health checks
Am I eligible to make a claim?
To make a successful claim, your solicitor will need to prove that you have been diagnosed with tinnitus and that this condition was caused by negligence on the part of your employer (whether past or present). The solicitor will work closely with you to gather relevant documentation and evidence to ensure that they can build a strong case and seek out the maximum compensation possible for your injury and losses.
One of the first steps in the process will be having a medical professional diagnose your condition and the probable cause. If your working conditions are thought to have been the trigger, your solicitor will need to gather evidence to back up this claim and prove that liability lies with your employer. This could include collecting witness statements, examining the health and safety records of the company, etc.
When you decide to seek legal advice on making a claim is paramount, as accident claims must be made within specified time limits. If your condition was caused by a particular event, such as an explosion, you would need to start your case for compensation within 3 years of this date. If however your tinnitus has been caused by prolonged exposure to a noisy working environment, the time limit begins on the date you are diagnosed. If you do not start legal proceeding within this time, you would no longer be eligible to pursue your claim due to the Limitation Act 1980.
How much compensation could I be entitled to?
The amount of compensation awarded is judged on a case by case basis. It depends very much on the severity of the injury you have sustained and the impact this has had on your life. The award is broken down into two parts – general damages, and special damages.
General damages is an amount based on the type and severity of injury sustained and uses guidelines provided by the Judicial College. The recommended level of general damages for tinnitus are as follows:
- mild tinnitus – up to £11,300
- moderate to severe tinnitus – £11,000 to £21,800
- severe tinnitus with some partial hearing loss – £22,600 to £34,600
In addition to this, your solicitor will also look to recover special damages. This is based on any financial losses that you have incurred as a result of your condition. For example, you may have lost earning from having to take time off work, or had to pay for medical treatment such as sound therapy. As long as you have evidence of these losses, your solicitor would be able to recover compensation to cover these out of pocket expenses.