New York Firefighter, Paramedic and EMT Hearing Loss Claims
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “occupational hearing loss is the most common work-related injury in the United States.” It is estimated that $242 million is spent on injury benefits for hearing loss disabilities each year, and approximately 22 million workers in the U.S. are exposed to dangerous sound levels at work.
Firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are at risk of suffering hearing loss from exposure to sirens. Sirens play an important role for emergency service vehicles, allowing them to make their way through traffic and busy intersections to the scene of a fire or to transport ill or injured patients to medical facilities. The people who are exposed to these sirens on a regular basis, however, may be at risk of suffering from permanent hearing loss.
According to the CDC website, an ambulance siren is located dangerously high on the NIOSH Sound Meter. To give an idea of where an ambulance siren ranks on this list, it is louder than a pneumatic percussion drill and just below a jet engine at takeoff. The website has an ambulance siren listed at 120 decibels, well above the recommended limit of 85 decibels. Exposures at or above 85 decibels may result in hearing loss.
Line of Duty Injury Benefits for Hearing Loss
If you are a firefighter, EMT or paramedic suffering from hearing loss caused by continual exposure to sirens, you may be eligible to receive Line of Duty Injury Benefits rather than workers’ compensation. An attorney at Napoli Shkolnik can talk to you about how to file your claim and what benefits and medical care you may be entitled to receive. One of the benefits of our firm’s representation in these matters is our secure database that stores medical information and data about a client’s exposure. This can prove invaluable in the future as we pursue line of duty injury benefits or personal injury lawsuit.
Our attorneys have a strong commitment to New York firefighters and other emergency personnel. We played a crucial role in representing firefighters, police officers, EMTs and others who suffered serious health problems caused by post-9/11 exposure at and near the World Trade Center collision site, securing a settlement of more than $800 million for these workers. We take hearing loss claims just as seriously, fighting for the fair and complete compensation our clients deserve. To learn more about our firm, please schedule a confidential consultation by calling our New York City headquarters
Notable Siren Hearing Loss Litigation
In addition to being covered by line of duty injury benefits, there are some situations where the manufacturer of a siren may be held accountable for hearing loss experienced by firefighters, EMTs or paramedics exposed to these devices. Two notable cases follow:
- In January of 2011, Federal Signal Corporation, a siren manufacturer, reached a $3.8 million settlement with some 1,100 firefighters for hearing loss claims related to the company’s sirens. The firefighters included in the settlement were stationed across Missouri, Maryland and New Jersey. This settlement was finally reached after three years of litigation and several trials.
- In October of 2012, an Illinois appeals court upheld verdicts in favor of nine Chicago firefighters who claimed that they sustained permanent hearing loss caused by exposure to sirens made by Federal Signal Corporation. This appeal came after a 2000 jury verdict in the firefighters’ favor that awarded $445,000 to the plaintiffs. Expert witnesses in this trial testified that the firefighters were routinely exposed to siren noise levels of 109.8 decibels, well above the NIOSH and OSHA safety recommendations.
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In your profession, you rely on your hearing to help you do your job. As a firefighter, you need to hear what is going on around you for your safety and the safety of your fellow firefighters and the people you are attempting to help. As a paramedic or EMT, you need to be able to listen to a patient’s heartbeat and breathing sounds, hear the patient’s complaints and be able to effectively communicate with your co-workers and emergency room or hospital personnel.
If your hearing has been jeopardized, do not wait to talk to an attorney about your options. Whether you can pursue line of duty injury benefits or have grounds for a product liability lawsuit, our team stands prepared to properly represent your interests and concerns.
Contact our firm today to talk to a lawyer about your case. Your initial consultation is free and confidential.