Hearing Loss Diagnosis Treatment: Solicitor explains why noise induced hearing loss claims depend on evidence that hearing damage from excessive noise exposure has occurred
Hearing loss diagnosis & treatment – find out when you suffer hearing damage from noise exposure; how hearing loss from noise can be diagnosed; why medical assistance with your hearing problems can help claiming compensation; how long you have to commence a claim & when that time period begins.
This article is set out under a number of convenient headings, we recommend following the headings in sequence or use the quick links below take you to the relevant section you might be interested in:
- When is hearing damage from noise exposure caused?
- How is hearing loss from noise diagnosed / treated by your doctor?
- Why is medical help important?
- When does the 3 year statutory limitation to make a claim commence?
- If you think you have hearing problems from noise exposure – what should you do?
When is hearing damage from noise exposure caused?
Hearing damage from noise occurs when you are in the noisy work environment, but it is very common that you do not appreciate any initial symptoms at that time.
When you are exposed to loud noise at work – your hearing will be damaged at the time of actual exposure.
Most workers however are younger when this exposure takes place and at this time your hearing is stronger, so you may not appreciate that damage has occurred.
As you get older your hearing will also deteriorate with age.
It is only when the combined effect of hearing loss from noise and hearing loss from age reaches a low enough level that you would typically start to exhibit hearing damage symptoms.
In many cases it may be many years after your work has ceased that symptoms commence, so it is common you will not appreciate the cause of the problems nor know what is happening to your hearing.
You may at this stage contact your GP or search the problem online before contacting your doctor.
Be careful – a statutory limitation period applies to claiming compensation for noise induced hearing loss, which is three years from date of injury or knowledge of injury. What you say to GP will likely be recorded on your medical notes, so attending with your GP indicating that your suffer hearing loss from noise can be misleading. If this is recorded by your GP – it suggests that you had knowledge that noise caused your hearing damage before the appointment.
It is far better to attend your GP explaining only the symptoms you are experiencing. Your GP should put two and two together and enquire about your work history and noise exposure.
Any entry made by the GP would reflect this.
It could therefore be argued by your solicitor when making a claim that knowledge did not take place (and so the three year limitation commence) until you first attended with your doctor.
If your GP did not ask any questions about noise exposure – you could then volunteer the information as ultimately you are looking at getting diagnosed and treated.
How is hearing damage from noise diagnosed by your doctor?
Diagnosis takes place by being sent by your GP to have a hearing test at hospital with an audiologist who produces a graph of your hearing test results known as an audiogram, which in turn is interpreted by an Ear Nose & Throat specialist.
See our article hearing test audiogram – to see how the hearing test is conducted and how the shape of the audiogram can determine the cause of hearing loss, including whether some hearing loss is as a result of noise exposure.
Alternatively – you could attend at your local Specsavers who will often do free hearing tests and this could establish if you have hearing loss from noise. Specsavers are clearly trying to determine whether they can provide hearing aids, which may at a later time be a relevant expense as part of a claim, but be careful of the hard sell as incurring hearing aid expense at too early a stage might not be recoverable (it is sometimes better to have the NHS provide hearing aids).
Why is hearing loss diagnosis & treatment important?
Diagnosis of noise induced hearing loss is important as your solicitor needs to know that there is medical proof that you have suffered hearing damage from noise.
Although – as part of making a claim your solicitor will obtain a further medical expert opinion for the purpose of your claim, but this expense can only be justified if you have been diagnosed with hearing loss already.
Look out – you might believe you are only suffering from Tinnitus. However, tinnitus can be one of the symptoms of noise induced hearing loss – so when you attend with a medical professional and that professional appreciates your work history you will likely have your hearing tested in addition to the tinnitus diagnosis alone, which could show hearing loss from noise as well as tinnitus.
When does the 3 year statutory limitation to make a claim commence?
This are three years from date of injury or knowledge of injury to commence a claim at court before it is too late to claim.
Defendants (your employer, former employer and the employer liability insurer) will try to argue this started earlier whereas your solicitor will try to prove it started later.
A Defendant would try to assert – this should be when you left the noisy work environment (ceased employment) or if later when you first started to experience symptoms.
Your solicitor would try to argue – it should be when you first sought medical assistance with hearing problems or when you were first tested and diagnosed.
Watch out – you may have presented to your GP with a hearing problem and your GP may just have syringed your ears for wax without discussing your work history noise exposure. It could be argued that you did not have knowledge as there was no suggestion of hearing problems other than wax and the reasonable man’s knowledge was at a later time.
Remember – even if the limitation period has expired to commence your claim in the courts it might be that you would still be entitled to industrial injuries disablement benefit for hearing damage.
If you think you have hearing problems from noise exposure – what should you do?
You should not wait – contact a specialist solicitor as soon as possible and also seek medical attention for noise induced hearing loss diagnosis and treatment or have your hearing tested at the local Specsavers.
Remember – be careful how you present your symptoms when attending with your doctor as you do not wish to create the wrong impression as to when you suspected hearing damage from noise.
We offer free legal help and assistance both online and by phone – get in touch to discuss your problems so you will be able to make an informed choice as to how best to proceed with a claim.