Loss of Hearing
Claims for occupational loss of hearing attack the very fabric of Workmen’s Compensation insurance by destroying the wage loss concept upon which this form of insurance is based.
The term occupational disease is defined as any disease caused by exposure to the harmful conditions of the employment when these conditions are present to a greater degree than in employment generally; when there is present a recognizable link between the disease and hazards of the employment; and when the disease is distinctly peculiar to the employment as contrasted with ordinary diseases which arise in day to day life away from employment. Through legal consult you will acquire a good view of how things work out in these cases.
Medical evidence indicates that sounds of continuous, high intensity in some individuals, damage a special part of the inner ear known as the Organ of Corti. Deterioration of nerve fibers and destruction of hair cells of the Organ of Corti will impair hearing. With cessation of the noise disturbances, hearing may be recovered by some people. However, with others, the loss of hearing may be permanent. Variation, in permanent nerve damage, largely depends upon individual structural factors. Intensive research is presently being conducted and its results may produce additional understanding of this problem.
There has been for many years an agreed upon “standard threshold of normal hearing.” This standard is called “zero” in relation to all degrees of impairment. Impairments are designated in terms of “decibels of hearing loss.” Hearing loss, therefore is equated with the number of decibels above the intensity of a sound which is audible to a person with normal hearing to make it audible to the individual with impaired hearing.
Because the compensation laws in many states make a variety of disease types compensable if it can be demonstrated that they were aggravated by industrial exposure, the carrier must arrange for prompt examinations by well qualified physicians to ascertain whether the primary disease or the industrial exposure is responsible for the condition.
Loss of Hearing
Recent awards for occupational loss of hearing made to employees who did not lose any time from work and consequently did not lose any wages, have led to increased study of this phase of the compensation field by those intimately concerned with its significance. The awards, largely in New York and Wisconsin, have raised the possibility that employers operating in states which construe these claims as compensable, will face an inordinate financial burden reflected in their Workmen’s Compensation rates, and may well be placed in a disadvantageous position competitively with businesses in other state not so burdened.
The individual noise problem has captured the interest of all people concerned with Workmen’s Compensation insurance. The effect on labor is substantial from a moral point of view since it establishes fertile grounds upon which to base claims. Its effects on employers can well be staggering because of its creation of a potential liability which, it does not appear, was ever contemplated in the formulation of insurance coverage. Working with personal injury will not be easy. But things will be much easier with the help of an attorney.