Acoustic Trauma Claims
Filing a Claim for Occupational Hearing Loss
Acoustic trauma, also known as occupational hearing loss, is induced by noise exposure. There are two forms of acoustic trauma: one that occurs from acute noise injury, or sudden exposure to an excessively loud noise, and one that occurs from chronic noise exposure, where small noise injuries incurred over time accumulate and result in hearing loss.
Acute noise injuries can cause both temporary and permanent hearing loss. Whether someone experiences a sudden explosion or stays too long at a rock concert, sudden exposure to loud noises causes injury to the hair cells in the lower portion of the cochlea, the part of the ear responsible for picking up high frequency sounds. This injury can result in sounds seeming to be muffled, ears feeling "full" and a diminished ability to hear high-frequency sounds such as the music from a clarinet. A person with an acute noise injury might also experience ringing in the ears. While symptoms usually resolve within one to two days, a particularly bad injury could cause such severe hair cell damage that at least some of the hearing loss will be permanent.
Chronic noise exposure, while seemingly less traumatic, can actually cause more permanent hearing damage. It occurs over an extended period of time, as a result of continued exposure to repetitive, loud, noises such as construction work or heavy machinery in operation. As repeated noise exposure occurs, small noise injuries build up, first damaging, then killing hair cells, resulting in permanent and irreversible hearing loss.
Federal Guidelines to Protect Workers from Hearing Loss
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has established guidelines to protect employees whose jobs expose them to occupation-related noise for prolonged periods of time. Individuals exposed to more than 85 decibels per hour of noise, or those who may encounter sudden loud noises on the job, should wear hearing protection while at work. People working with loud equipment should also protect their ears. Acoustic ear muffs provide the best form of hearing protection, but other options are also available. Employers whose employees run a risk of incurring noise-related injuries should provide their workers with hearing protection and regular hearing loss screenings. If they do not, employees should demand the protection.
Acoustic trauma can cause serious side effects such as ringing in the ears, an inability to hear conversations when background noise is present, and even permanent hearing loss. If you or a loved one has experienced acoustic trauma as a result of job-related noise exposure, you may be entitled to compensation. A personal injury attorney from Arnold & Itkin LLP can provide you with a comprehensive consultation regarding your case. We will review the injuries that you have sustained at your place of work and we can determine whether you should file a catastrophic injury claim. Hearing loss, both partial and full loss, is a devastating injury that many people silently suffer from. If your injury was due to an employer's negligent actions on a jobsite, you may be entitled to financial compensation.