Hearing Loss on the Job Site- Can I Sue My Employer?

If the hearing loss you experience because of your work environment is caused by someone’s negligent or intentional behavior, there may be options available to you to seek compensation in a personal injury lawsuit. Hearing loss is more common on the worksite than many people realize and certain professions and industry workers are more at risk than others, but it can be hard to get a strong legal case to seek compensation for work-related hearing loss.

“How does someone else typically cause hearing loss? Often these types of injuries are workplace-related. For example, an employer uses machinery or devices that emit loud noise and cause hearing damage. The employer may be liable for the damage if, for example, the employer has disregarded regulations – typically enforced by the Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Further, if the employer fails to warn you about dangers from noise in the workplace, you may also be able to pursue a lawsuit. For example, in 2010, over 150 employees of a paper mill sued their employer over noise-related hearing loss. In most work related cases, though, a workers compensation claim is the exclusive source of compensation” (All Law).


Types of Hearing Loss That Can Occur in the Workplace

There are two general types of hearing loss that are seen as a result of unsafe workplace conditions: conductive and sensorineural. Conductive hearing loss is the type that commonly occurs when any part of the ear is unable to properly transmit sound waves and is unable to direct them to the eardrum like they should. Essentially the ear is damaged in a way that disrupts the normal vibration and flow of soundwaves within the ear. Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage that occurs within the central nerve, somewhere in the inner ear, or sound-processing portions of the brain. Essentially, the nerves and brain are unable to process sound. Hearing loss can also be a combination of the two main types. Lawsuits and cases can be brought against an employer if either type of hearing loss can be traced back to workplace conditions that should have been reduced, limited, or corrected in some way.


Case Example of Workplace Hearing Loss Lawsuit

“Peter Becker and more than 40 other employees sued Murphy Oil Corp. for hearing loss from long-term exposure at the company’s Meraux, LA, refinery. Becker and the others started working for Murphy as young men and continued for 25 to more than 30 years, until retirement. In many cases, their employment predated the start of OSHA in 1971 and continued after the first workplace noise regulations were enacted. The workers were all exposed to loud noise and weren’t provided hearing protection. A medical specialist testified at trial that working at the Murphy plant was the most significant factor in their hearing losses… In the first six cases heard, the court ruled in favor of five of the former workers and awarded each one $50,000 in damages plus future medical costs which ranged from $18,000 to $25,000” (Safety News Alert).


Negligence Claims of a Personal Injury Case for Hearing Loss

The most common ground for a personal injury lawsuit is the claim of negligence or willful ignorance.  A plaintiff who brings any personal injury case under the focus of negligence must prove four elements: (1) the defendant was the one responsible for ensuring safety of the location the accident occurred or the items involved in the accident, (2) the defendant failed in some way to uphold that duty, (3) “proximate” cause which is the proof that the plaintiff’s injuries are directly tied to and stemming from the negligence of the defendant, and (4) actual damages or loss sustained by the plaintiff due to the accident and their injuries. Among the damages a plaintiff is seeking to be awarded in a negligence lawsuit are things such as coverage and payment for medical expenses, lost wages, mental and emotional suffering, out-of-pocket expenses, loss of quality of life, and pain and suffering. This is why you need an attorney experienced in personal injury case hearings- there is so much riding on the judgment the judge hands down.


Personal Injury Case Representation

“If you are eligible to file a lawsuit against your employer in civil court, you won’t be limited to the amounts provided by workers’ compensation benefits. In addition to lost wages, reimbursement for medical treatment, and compensation for any permanent impairment, you may be able to sue for pain and suffering and punitive damages. Punitive damages can be a sum of money many times the amount of actual damages you incurred, especially in the case of egregiously bad behavior on your employer’s part” (Disability Secrets). If you or a loved one has been injured in some way by the careless, negligent, or unsafe actions of another, you likely have grounds for a personal injury case.  To find out more, call our legal team and let them show you the steps you need to follow to get your case underway!