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Seeking Workers’ Compensation For Hearing Loss And Tinnitus

Working in a loud environment can damage your hearing, which can impact your health, safety and overall quality of life. Under Iowa law, there are multiple statutes that provide workers’ compensation benefits for gradual hearing loss, acute loss of hearing, and a condition known as tinnitus, or ringing in the ears. If you’ve suffered any of these conditions in your Iowa workplace, contact our skilled lawyers at Wertz Law Firm, P.C. With over 60 years of combined legal experience, we are more than ready to protect your rights and advocate for your interests while guiding you through the claims and appeals processes.

Hearing Loss: Workplace Exposure Over Time

You may have suffered occupational hearing loss due to significant exposure to noise in the workplace over a period of time. Iowa law covers such injuries under Chapter 85B.

These workers’ comp hearing loss claims are very specific and include rules requiring you to give notice and file a complaint within a certain specified time period. These timelines and rules are very different from the typical workplace injury. These claims, therefore, require counsel who is very familiar with this portion of Iowa workers’ compensation law. You need a lawyer, like those at our firm, who has handled these cases in the past.

Hearing Loss: Single Workplace Incident

You may have suffered a loss of hearing due to a single workplace incident. For example, you may have been exposed to a significantly loud or traumatic event. We have represented injured workers who experienced hearing loss following events like tires bursting or explosions, or after suffering a direct blow to the head or ears. These types of single-event traumas are also compensable and are typically covered under Chapter 85 of Iowa law.

Identifying Occupational Hearing Loss

How do you tell the difference between hearing loss that’s occupational, or related to the exposure that you experience to loud noises on the job, and hearing loss that is progressive and likely natural?

Essentially, your doctor can usually make that call by considering such factors as:

  • The strength of the noise that you are exposed to on the job
  • The frequency of your exposure to loud noises at work
  • The length of your exposure to those workplace noise levels

Generally speaking, any prolonged exposure to noise above 85 decibels (dB) can result in damage to your hearing that can become permanent. You may even be able to test the decibel level of the noises in your workplace with an app on your smartphone to check your occupational noise exposure, which can further support the conclusion that your hearing loss is work-related.

How To Ensure You Get An Accurate Diagnosis

Audiologists and other hearing loss professionals understand that an accurate diagnosis is important, so make sure that you discuss all of the above factors, as well as your symptoms. Regular hearing screenings can also help you identify your baseline and spot early changes in your hearing that can prompt further investigation.

How Employers Can Prevent Hearing Loss

Employers have the capacity to do more for their workers to prevent occupational hearing loss. For example, they can:

  • Perform noise level assessments to evaluate the risks
  • Use targeted interventions to reduce noise by isolating certain equipment or using sound barriers
  • Provide personal protective equipment (PPE), such as earplugs or headsets, and enforce their use

They could also improve the situation by regularly educating their employees about the risks of occupational hearing loss, the proper use of their hearing protection devices and the importance of seeking early medical attention when they do have tinnitus or other signs of hearing loss.

Lawyers Setting Precedent For Tinnitus Compensation

If you suffer from tinnitus, you know the very real and significant symptoms which accompany this diagnosis. We’re proud to say that our attorneys convinced the Iowa Supreme Court to allow compensation for injured workers when tinnitus arises from workplace activities. Tinnitus may be triggered by a single traumatic incident or the result of years of exposure to workplace noise.

Most injured workers describe tinnitus as a ringing in their ears or heads. This ringing may alter your ability to sleep, hear and concentrate. These injuries are compensable as a whole claim, which focuses on how the tinnitus impacts your ability to earn a living. If the tinnitus results in your need to be removed from certain workplace environments or a loss of sleep and concentration which affects your ability to perform employment-related duties, you may be entitled to substantial financial compensation under Iowa law.

These claims require medical specialists trained in the treatment and evaluation of tinnitus. Our attorneys understand the relevant medical issues and know the various medical experts in this field, and we will work tirelessly to ensure you are properly treated and compensated for these injuries.

Free Consultations – Reach Out Today

From our office in Cedar Rapids, Wertz Law Firm, P.C., serves injured workers across Iowa. To discuss your hearing loss or tinnitus claim during a free initial consultation, call us at 319-774-2687 or send us an email.