Many people may not realize that a hearing loss may be a compensable work injury. The Workers’ Compensation Act provides for benefits for loss of hearing related to exposure to noise while at work.
The act is specific regarding hearing loss cases. In order to be entitled to benefits for a work-related hearing loss, you must have a binaural (both ears) hearing loss of at least 10 percent. You must be evaluated by a physician who specializes in hearing problems to determine the percentage of your hearing loss. Often, people with such a loss will report that they are unable to hear the television, or voices on the telephone or even the voice of a family member.
To be entitled to benefits for hearing loss, you must show you have been exposed to hazardous noise while working. The act also sets forth the requirements for “hazardous noise.” It can be difficult to determine on your own whether the noise level at your place of employment is great enough to be considered hazardous under the act.
Even if you have a hearing loss of 10 percent or greater, and you were exposed to hazardous noise at work, you still need a physician to render an opinion that your hearing loss is related to your exposure to noise while at work. Without such a medical opinion, you cannot win a claim for hearing loss benefits.
If you feel you have a work-related hearing loss , please be sure to discuss your condition with us before the end of the three-year limit for filing a claim for hearing loss benefits. All too often, a client comes to our office to discuss a hearing loss claim only to discover that it is too late to file the claim. The three-year statute of limitations for filing a claim begins to run on the last day you were exposed to hazardous noise at work. This may or may not be the last day that you worked for your employer. If you changed jobs during your employment from a noisy job to a quiet job, or the job you are performing became quieter, the beginning date for the three years is the last day you worked at the noisy job, and you must file your claim within three years of that date.
If your claim is successful, you may be entitled to up to 260 weeks of workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits are based on your workers’ compensation rate, which is determined by your earnings for the year prior to the last day you were exposed to hazardous noise. Depending on the degree of your hearing loss, and your earnings, this amount could be substantial.
If you feel you may have a work-related hearing loss, it is important to make an appointment with us immediately. Remember that if you do not act promptly, you could lose valuable legal rights and benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act. Email a Pennsylvania workers’ comp attorney, or call us at 724-837-0080 in Greensburg or toll free at 888-534-6016.
For more information on Pennsylvania workers’ compensation, please visit our expansive Workers’ Compensation Information Center or our Workers’ Compensation Frequently Asked Questions.
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