Statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the most common type of work-related injury in the country today is hearing loss. More than twenty-two million workers are exposed to very dangerous levels of work-related noise annually, starting with those in the mining industry, construction, and manufacturing sectors. The statistics also estimate that more than $242 million is spent annually on worker compensation for hearing loss and related injuries. With that in mind, so many people are expected to suffer from these type of injuries every year. If an injury has happen to you, the services of The Workers Compensation Attorney Group in Orange County would ensure that you get exactly what you deserve in workers’ compensation. We help clients in Orange County file for work injuries lawsuits and ensure they get appropriate compensation for their losses and injury.
What is Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss is defined as a full or partial decline in the ability of a person to detect or even understand sounds. Hearing loss ranges from mild hearing impairment to total deafness. There are mainly four categories of hearing loss:
Mild: Just as the name suggests, this is not the worst case of hearing loss. A person with a mild hearing impairment is able to detect and understand sounds pretty well, but unable to follow conversations especially in noisy places;
Moderate: People who are suffering from moderate hearing loss may have a hard time following conversations without the help of a hearing aid:
Severe: People who are suffering from severe hearing loss will require a powerful hearing aid to follow a normal conversation. In most cases, these people will rely more on reading lips, even when they have a powerful hearing aid. Some of them have to learn sign language to communicate better;
Profound: This is the most extreme case of hearing loss. People with this kind of hearing problem will rely on sign language and lip-reading to make conversation with other people.
Occupational Hearing Loss
While there are so many causes of hearing loss out there, occupational hearing damage is the most prevalent. It is also the main type of work-related injury in California. Occupational hearing loss can happen in any sector, but it is more common in industries as manufacturing and construction sectors. In these industries, statistics show that one out of 9 employees suffering from workplace injuries are those whose hearing ability has been affected.
There are occupational health and safety standard regulations in place to help prevent hearing loss in places where employees have to work in extremely noisy conditions. Employers are also encouraged to create prevention plans as a way to minimize the risk of occurrence of hearing loss and related injuries.
Hearing loss in workplaces is mainly caused by continued exposure to sounds and vibrations. Most of these injuries are usually related to the kind of job a person is doing. There are occupations that are at a higher risk of causing hearing loss such as farming, airline maintenance, sheet metal, and assembly jobs and construction among others. Those jobs that involve the use of loud equipment also pose a higher risk of injuries. If for instance, you use a jackhammer for a better part of your day every day, the vibrations and sounds coming from a machine are enough to cause great damage to your hearing.
Most hearing loss injuries are usually permanent and so, proper treatment is required for the affected persons to continue working or living their lives fully as they did before the injuries. As per the National Library of Medicine report, the best treatment advocated for these kinds of injuries is the use of hearing supports, to help improve communication for the injured. Some treatments will involve protecting the ears from more damage especially if the affected person continues working in the same conditions. Some of the protective gears that can be used are earplugs. If the damage is extreme then the affected may undergo training on lip reading and other communication techniques that will help them communicate better.
There are steps that both employees and their employers must take in order to prevent occupational hearing loss. Employees can, for instance, install acoustic or noise barriers in their workplaces to protect themselves from extreme noise and vibrations. Employers, on the other hand, can provide training and programs that can help prevent workplace hearing loss. Some of the programs that can be adopted in workplaces include assessment of noise and vibrations, education on hearing loss and the use of protective equipment. Use of earplugs to protect one's ears from harm is an extra measure that employees can take when working in conditions with unsafe levels of noise and vibrations.
In California, it is the employer’s responsibility to protect his/her employees against extreme noise and vibrations that could result in hearing loss. The general safety of employees is usually in the hands of their employers. There are occupational safety standards that every employer must adhere to, some of which regulate the level of noise in certain workplace environments. In some industries, employers are required to monitor the intensity of sounds like a way to reduce employees' risk of hearing loss. If for instance the amount of noise in a certain part of the company is going up to 100 lbs, the National Institute of Health will require an employee to stay protected if they are going to be exposed to levels of noise for 15 minutes or more.
Sometimes things do not work as planned and so, some or most employees working in areas with high levels of noise and vibrations end up suffering hearing loss. If this happens, the law permits employees to pursue payments for treatment and medical bills through their employer’s workers compensation insurance policy. This same policy will cater for all the lost wages plus costs for long-term disability of the hearing loss sustained is permanent.
Hearing Loss in Orange County
All the five senses of a human being are very important and so, when you start to lose one or some of them, it can be very frustrating and overwhelming. A person’s ability to hear is as important as their ability to feel and see and so, losing your ability to hear can significantly affect the quality of life you are living. Hearing loss can also change your life forever, especially in a case where the loss was profound because then you will be dependent on sign language to effectively communicate with other people.
Occupational hearing loss is as prevalent in Orange County as it is in the rest of the world. Sometimes the hearing problem can happen slowly over a long period of time of a person’s exposure to moderate levels of noise. Other times it can happen suddenly, after a sudden loud bang like that of an explosion. Other times an injury to the head or ear(s) can accidentally happen in the course of a person’s work, leaving the person in a lot of time an eventually depriving them their ability to hear.
Some of the symptoms associated with hearing loss in Orange County include:
Humming, buzzing, roaring or tingling in the ears, also called tinnitus
Irritation in one or both ears, such as a burning sensation or itching
Dizziness, also called vertigo
Fluid leakage from one or both ears
If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms and you suspect that you are experiencing hearing loss due to an accident in the workplace or the noisy environment you have been working in, you are allowed to pursue some financial and medical benefits. What you do is to strive to understand your rights first, through the help of a competent Workers Compensation Attorney. An attorney will also help you receive all the compensation you are entitled to on account of an unfortunate loss.
Types of Occupational Hearing Loss Conditions
The type of hearing loss that is mainly compensated in Orange County is noise-induced, and this includes different types of hearing conditions such as:
Acoustic shock syndrome
This is a type of damage to the ear that is caused by either a single impulsive sound at close proximity, for example, an explosion, or through continuous exposure to high-frequency and high-intensity sounds, as it happens to a person who works every day in noisy conditions. This type of hearing loss is common with Call Centre employees as it is usually related to telephone use and exposure to high and prolonged use of headsets. If you have been injured in the last three years or longer in cases where children are involved, and someone else is to blame for your injuries, an attorney can help you make a compensation claim.
In proving this type of hearing damage, a prosecutor will be keen on the kinds of signs and symptoms that you are exhibiting to truly accept that you have suffered acoustic shock syndrome. This type of damage can lead to permanent tinnitus or hearing loss and also cause a number of other unpleasant symptoms such as headaches, ear pains, nausea, poor balance, jaw and pain neck, anxiety, fluttering noises or a hollow feeling in the ear, fatigue and also hypersensitivity.
These are the kinds of symptoms that will significantly affect a person’s quality of life and could lead to poor performance in their work as well as day to day activities. If left untreated, a person could get depressed.
The amount of compensation you could claim for acoustic shock syndrome will mainly be influenced by the severity of these results.
This type of hearing condition is characterized by a ringing buzzing or whistling sound in a person's one or both ears. In a workplace, this condition can be caused by a head or neck injury and also by continued exposure to loud noise. If the exposure was caused by the employer's negligence, an employee has a right to make an industrial disease claim or claim for workers compensation to get medical and financial assistance.
To qualify to make a claim, you must have been diagnosed with tinnitus in the last three years or for a longer time if children are involved. There must be someone to blame for your condition too.
A prosecutor will require evidence before agreeing to your claims, and the accepted proof in cases includes:
Medical reports confirming that you were diagnosed with the condition and the likely cause
Evidence that you were employed in that company
The company’s records for health and safety
Details of colleagues and other witnesses who can provide evidence in support of your claim
This condition occurs when there is a permanent damage in the inner ear that may result in partial or total deafness. These conditions are common with people who are working in the extraction, energy construction and manufacturing sectors. If it is established that the cause of an employee's occupational deafness is as a result of employer negligence, the employee is entitled to make a compensation claim.
To make a successful claim, you must have been injured in the last three years and you believe someone else is responsible for your injuries. Occupational deafness is usually a latency disease and so, its symptoms appear years or even decades after the initial cause or exposure. That is why in some cases the symptoms are put down to aging and not as a result of your previous employment. Some of the key indicators of this type of condition are:
A person’s inability to keep up with conversations
Not being able to follow a conversation or hear properly when there is some noise in the background
When you’re struggling to use a phone
When you find yourself always turning the volume of television or radio high
A medical examination may be needed for the prosecutor to establish occupational deafness and once it is established, you can comfortably claim for compensation. During the examination, a physical examination will be carried out and later on, you will be asked questions about your work history and how much you were exposed to noise.
In most cases, inadequate protection as a result of the unavailability of adequate personal protective gear will be the cause of a condition, making your employer liable to your injuries. Witnesses will be required to backup your account of events to fully establish that the particular job you had and the level of noise you were exposed to, is related to the job that caused your hearing loss.
The Process of Filing for Workers Compensation for Hearing Loss
If you have been diagnosed with any of the above conditions and your attorney has established your employer's liability in the kinds of occupational injury you are suffering from, it will be time to make a claim for Workers Compensation. If you have been injured at work and you require medical care, it is only fair for your employer to pay for it, as well as any wages you might miss while recovering. Here are some steps you can take in Orange County to file for compensation:
Let your employer know
Depending on the severity of your injuries, the legal system in California requires an employee to notify their employer first, of any injuries they may sustain in the workplace. Remember that some injuries will require you to seek medical care first and in that case, you might have to call an ambulance first before you can give your employer some notice. However, you need to tell your employer about the injury immediately you can. In cases where the injury happens in the course of duty, or you experience some symptoms requiring medical care while still at work, notify your immediate supervisor first.
The state of California gives employees a 30-day time frame for reporting work-related injuries. If you report later than the given 30-days, the employer may not be compelled to provide the worker’s compensation benefits that you need. The 30-days timeline will start when you get injured but in cases of hearing loss injuries, whose symptoms develop with time, the 30-days time limit will be set on the date you realized there was a problem.
Again, in case of an emergency, the paramedics will take you to a treatment center of their preference but if the condition is not an emergency, the employee may have a pre-designated physician who treats him/her in cases where employees are covered in health insurance provided by the employer.
If you suspect that the injury is related to your occupation, let your physician know at the time of treatment so he/she can conduct a medical examination to rule out other possible causes. Once the primary cause of your injuries is linked to your job, your employer is required by the law to pay for all your medical bills. That is why it is imperative to notify your physician as well as the hospital billing division at the hospital you are treated that your injuries are related to your job.
Once that is done, your physician and the hospital will send the bill directly to your employer for compensation.
Lay out all your symptoms to the physician
In a case of occupational hearing loss injury, the doctor needs to know all the symptoms you have to be able to tell if the injury is work-related, how serious it is and possible medications to treat it. All the symptoms you have been experiencing have to be written down, as they will be used when the time to make your claim comes. If some symptoms have not been mentioned in your medical reports, the insurance company may not compensate you for your injuries and it can argue that the injuries you have are not work-related at all.
Once the medical reports are ready, it might be time to submit your claim form. Your employer is required by law to provide you with a claim form at least a day after you have reported your injury. The form should be correctly filled, then returned to your employer. There is a part your employer must fill, and then submit it to the Worker Compensation Insurance Company. Once this is done, the insurance company will assign you a workers' compensation claims officer to manage your claim.sign
A workers compensation attorney plays a great role in helping an injured person get their full compensation in the event of an occupational hearing loss. First of all, there is legal advice to help you know where you stand legally and whether or not you qualify for compensation. After that, your attorney will ensure that you submit the claim form on time for you to receive timely benefits. The attorney will, in fact, fill out the claim form for you, therefore, minimal mistakes can be expected, which might otherwise make it hard for you to get your benefits.
In some instances, there are other benefits that a person who has suffered from workplace hearing loss could get, such as permanent disability benefits. Alone, an employee may not be aware of this and so, could miss out on important financial benefits that they may need while recovering.
Lastly, there are calculations involved in determining the amount of money a person can claim as compensation for occupational hearing loss. Not many people are able to do these calculations to get the exact amount to claim for, but a workers compensation attorney will know exactly what to consider, then advise you on how much you should claim for.
Find a Workers’ Compensation Attorney for Hearing Loss Near Me
With the prevalence of work-related hearing loss injuries in California today, it is possible that you or anyone close to you has been affected. Getting legal help as soon as possible will speed up things for you to get the compensation you deserve. The Workers Compensation Attorney in Orange County is able to give you the advice and support you need to get your full workers compensation for hearing loss in Orange County, California. Call our Orange County work injury lawyer today at 562-485-9694 and let us help you get the most compensation for your situation.