Hearing loss cases are unique because we all are exposed to loud noises at various times of the day. If you live in Chicago it’s probably worse for you than if you live in a more rural area like Champaign or Belleville, but no matter where you are, there are likely cars honking, people yelling, trains, etc.
To establish that a hearing loss is work-related, while you do need a doctor’s opinion, you also typically have to show that you work in a high-risk job. Construction workers, factory workers, those on assembly lines, and surprisingly, security workers (often working at concert venues) seem to be the ones we most commonly see being able to prove a work-related hearing loss. No matter your job you’ll need to show continuous exposure to loud noise over a long period of time. It’s helpful if your employment screening test also shows a baseline of what your hearing used to be so you can show what actual loss you sustained.
Of course, you can also prove hearing loss from a one-time injury. We recently worked with a gentleman who ruptured his air drum and had a complete loss of hearing in one ear while on the job. Those cases are more unique, but they do happen.
When talking to your doctor, we are interested in decibel loss and their opinion as to whether or not your job duties contributed to that happening. You need to make sure they have a clear understanding of the work you do, the noises you are exposed to, the frequency of that exposure, and the safety measures you have used. In many cases, it makes sense to actually measure the noise level at your job so we can prove your physician had the full amount of information.
The most valuable and unfortunate Illinois hearing loss cases are when your loss is so significant that returning to your normal job duties puts you and others at great risk. In most of the jobs where hearing loss happens, being able to communicate is not only important to do the work, but it literally could save someone’s life. If you are operating a forklift and can’t hear a warning that someone is in your path, you shouldn’t do that job.
The good news is that if you are forced out of your regular work and your employer can’t find a new job for you, they have to compensate you while you look for a safer job. And if there is a big wage loss, which is likely since many of these injuries happen to well-paid union workers, the insurance company has to make up the difference of what you could be making on your old job versus what you can make now.
My best advice is to not delay medical care if you notice your hearing starting to slip. It’s not like a back injury that can debilitate you right away and catching it early can save you.
We have helped many workers with hearing loss issues and would be happy to talk to you for free about what happened to you. You can start an online chat, send us an email by filling out our contact form, or call us any time.