Advocating for Workers Who Have Been Injured By Excessive Noise
Noise pollution is a pervasive problem in the 21st Century, but nowhere more so than in the workplace for some workers. Individuals employed in construction, manufacturing, metalwork, woodwork, and other industries are continuously exposed to excessive noise levels. Over a period of weeks, months, or years, exposure to high levels of noise pollution can cause permanent hearing loss.
Hearing loss is no small injury. While it may not be as obvious to onlookers as a lost limb or a fractured skull, it will still impact your life every day. It can cause you to miss out on important moments like your child’s first word, a new song by your favorite band, or even something simple, like birdsong in the mornings. The attorneys at Tenge Law Firm, LLC know that suffering from hearing loss can devastate a person’s life. If you have lost your hearing because your job neglected to give you proper safety equipment, then you need someone to advocate for your rights. Contact us today, and find out how we can help you.
Are There Different Types of Hearing Loss?
The two main types of hearing loss are conductive and sensorineural. Exposure to loud noises causes sensorineural hearing loss, which involves damage to the hair cells in the inner ear. This type of hearing loss can also result from aging, certain diseases, such as meningitis, and certain chemicals and medications. Conductive hearing loss can be caused by infections or malfunctions of the outer or middle ear, damage to the ear drum, or impacted ear wax.
How Can Noise Pollution in the Workplace Damage a Worker’s Hearing?
Sound waves are created from the vibration of air molecules and funneled from the outer ear to the middle ear, where they vibrate the eardrum. This vibration is picked up by three small bones on the other side of the eardrum and passed to the inner ear. Hairs on a small, spiral shaped organ in the inner ear called the cochlea sense the vibration and pass it on to the brain through the cochlear nerve. Excessive noise can bend, damage, or break these sensitive hairs.
Noise loudness is measured in decibels. Damage to hearing can occur at decibels higher than 85 – approximately the loudness of heavy traffic. Risk of hearing loss increases as noise becomes louder, and the longer you are exposed to the noise. Once hearing has been damaged on the job by prolonged exposure to excessive noise from machinery and equipment, it cannot be restored.
How Can Work-Related Hearing Loss Impact a Person’s Life?
Hearing loss doesn’t just impact your ability to listen to the radio during your morning commute. It touches all aspects of your life, from your relationships to your performance at work. Some of the more common negative affects we’ve seen hearing loss cause with our clients are:
- Withdrawal from social situations because of difficulties in communicating with others. It is not easy to socialize when you cannot make out what other people are saying.
- Emotional problems that come from a drop in self-esteem and confidence associated with hearing loss.
- Fewer job and educational opportunities because of impaired communication.
Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Hearing Loss in Colorado?
Workers in Colorado are covered for hearing loss under the Colorado Workers’ Compensation Act. Loss of hearing is a scheduled injury under state law. With the workers’ comp system for scheduled injuries, the occupational injury (hearing loss, in this case) is assigned a value expressed in a number of weeks. This value is multiplied by the extent of the injury (percentage of hearing loss), as determined by a medical provider. To arrive at the benefit amount, this product is multiplied by the employee’s weekly compensation at the time the injury occurred.
Values assigned as the maximum number of weeks available for workers’ comp benefit payments for hearing loss in Colorado are:
- 139 weeks — total hearing loss in both ears
- 35 weeks – total hearing loss in one ear
- 139 weeks – total hearing loss in one ear for a person who already had total hearing loss in the other ear
Why You Need a Lawyer
Your employer’s workers comp insurance company will try to minimize the benefits you receive or deny your claim for hearing loss entirely. The doctor who decides the percentage of hearing loss you have suffered could make an inaccurate determination. There may even be a third party, other than your employer, that you may be able to hold liable for your hearing loss in a personal injury claim. Your best chance of recovering full compensation for your injuries is to have an experienced attorney by your side.
Our Denver personal injury lawyers at the Tenge Law Firm, LLC are tough advocates for injured workers. We are a full-service firm, and will help you with everything involved in your case. We work on a contingency fee basis and offer a free consultation. Contact us at (303) 502-5587 if you have suffered hearing loss from exposure to excessive noise in the workplace.