Can You Recover Compensation for Hearing Loss?

By Peter DePaolis

Hearing loss is devastating. Whether it is complete or partial, it alters your life permanently. It might affect your job, your interactions with loved ones, and it could negatively impact your quality of life in general.

When hearing loss stems from someone’s negligence or intentional acts, you may be entitled to compensation for that hearing loss through a personal injury claim.

Hearing loss claims are typically seen in workers’ compensation when employers fail to protect their workers from hearing loss because they are not using the right equipment. However, hearing loss can happen outside of the job, too.

For example, being exposed to deafening noises or even damage in a motor vehicle accident can lead to permanent damage. The loss might not be apparent right away. Instead, it could be something gradual, and the victim only realizes after a few weeks that they are slowly losing their ability to hear.

Regardless, if you suspect that someone’s negligence is the reason you cannot hear, speak with an attorney, right away. An attorney will review the facts of the case to determine which type of claim might apply and see if you have a valid case.

Understanding the Common Causes of Hearing Loss Claims in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia

Whether it is at work, due to faulty equipment, or an accident, hearing loss can happen in numerous ways. Some common causes of hearing loss include:

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Quick exposure to extreme noise
  • Prolonged exposure to noise
  • Medical condition that is undiagnosed
  • Medical procedure went wrong
  • Illness

The Types of Hearing Loss

You have two primary types of hearing loss: conductive and sensorineural.

  1. Conductive Hearing Loss: A conductive loss occurs when portions of the ear do not transmit sound waves through the eardrum.
  2. Sensorineural Hearing Loss: Damage to the central nerves, inner ear area, and sound-processing sectors of the brain are prohibiting the transfer of sound to the brain so that the brain might process and interpret what is being heard.

These causes will fall under distinct types of claims, which include:

Workers’ Compensation for Hearing Loss

Work-related hearing loss is probably the more common cause of hearing loss lawsuits. For example, working at a construction site where you are exposed to chronic instances of loud noise. This eventually damages the inner ear and causes permanent hearing loss.

Employers are required to obey all OSHA regulations and protect worker hearing. This includes construction, factory, and any job that involves chronic exposure to loud noises. When an employer fails to protect an employee’s hearing, it can be devastating.

In this instance, the victim (the employee) would file a workers’ compensation claim. The employer might be liable when they blatantly ignore the OSHA regulations. Also, if they do not warn employees about the dangers of hearing loss, then the employee might seek damages through a lawsuit instead of using workers’ compensation.

Automobile Accidents and Hearing Loss

In a severe automobile accident, the victim might suffer from a traumatic brain injury. When the brain is permanently damaged, it could affect how that person hears or interprets what they hear.

Also, severe head trauma, in general, may permanently damage the inner ear and organs that are responsible for hearing. Even without a traumatic brain injury, this damage can permanently affect a person’s hearing and leave them partially or wholly deaf.

Car accidents caused by a negligent party or defective safety equipment on a vehicle may be entitled to compensation. For example, a faulty airbag causes unnecessary trauma to an accident victim, leaving them with permanent hearing loss. In this case, the manufacturer of the vehicle and the company responsible for manufacturing the defective airbag might be liable for the hearing loss of the victim.

Defective Products and Hearing Loss

Defective products could lead to hearing loss, such as a product that explodes and the explosion permanently damages a person’s ears. Also, safety equipment used on the job that is supposed to protect a worker from hearing damage that is later found defective falls under this category.

In this instance, the victim would file a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the defective product and any third party in the supply chain who is also responsible for the distribution of that defective item.

Medical Malpractice and Hearing Loss

Some instances of hearing loss come from failed medical procedures, side effects of medication, or undiagnosed conditions that are allowed to continue long enough to cause permanent damage to someone’s ear and ability to hear.

For example, a physician might miss a brain tumor diagnosis. By the time it is properly diagnosed, the areas of the brain responsible for interpreting sound are irreversibly damaged, leaving the patient deaf.

Other times, a medical procedure might cause irreversible damage to the inner workings of the ear, affecting a person’s ability to hear. For example, a procedure to help reduce ear infections, which allows for better drainage, is done incorrectly and the patient develops a severe infection that permanently damages the inner ear. Now, they will suffer a partial hearing loss the rest of their life.

Is It Negligence?

The only way to tell if hearing loss is something you can file a lawsuit over is to speak with an attorney. An accident is not always an issue of negligence. Instead, you need an attorney to help you identify if there was a duty owed, whether that duty was breached, the party that breached the duty, and the level of compensation owed because of their breach of care.

Compensation in these types of cases can be substantial, primarily when it affects a person from working or functioning as they once did. For a young child, it could mean a loss of opportunities, costs for special schooling, and relearning how to speak now that they no longer hear.

Hearing loss is compensated through a personal injury action, and the compensation amount will depend on the severity and type of negligence that caused it.

Contact a Local Attorney for Your Hearing Loss Case

If you suspect that you have hearing loss caused by someone’s negligence (whether from a doctor, driver, or employer), you have the right to hold them accountable.

To explore your options, speak with an attorney from the office of Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP.

You can speak with us now for a free, no-obligation case evaluation by contacting one of our three office locations closest to you. You can also request more information about our services online.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.