It was Sir Francis Bacon who first said “knowledge is power”, but in a claim for Noise Induced Hearing Loss ‘knowledge’ is not always a good thing.
Under UK Law, there is a 3 year time limit within which to pursue a hearing loss compensation claim from what is called the ‘Date of Knowledge’.
The is the date when the person claiming compensation (the claimant) first noticed significant hearing loss symptoms, and made the connection that the cause was negligent exposure to noise at work; or, the date when he/she ought to have reasonably made the connection between noise at their workplace and their hearing loss problem.
When it comes to significantly reduced or complete loss of hearing, many people are reluctant to get medical attention or legal advice when they start to develop hearing problems. Perhaps this is unsurprising given the stigma which is still associated with hearing loss and the stereotypical old NHS style hearing aids.
As a specialist Personal Injury Solicitor, I have spoken to many people who when discussing their symptoms say “I didn’t think anything of it” or “I just got on with it” or even “I didn’t’ want to accept that I had a problem”.
You wouldn't put off having an eye test if you could not see clearly so why put off a hearing test if you cannot hear clearly?
It is the view of Judges across the country that in this day and age, with all the technology and information that is readily available, that a reasonable person would be expected to make enquiries into why they are suffering hearing loss, particularly if this is at a young age.
In taking this view, the judiciary have set out that their assessment of when a claimant ought to have reasonably made the connection between their hearing loss symptoms and noise at work is a strict one. There is little leniency given to claimants that delayed getting advice about the possible cause of their symptoms.
My advice is that it's important that anybody suffering from hearing loss should seek medical advice as quickly as possible, and, if they work/ed in a noisy workplace, such as a factory or a call centre (where telephone headset volumes can often be very loud) to get legal advice as soon as possible if a diagnosis of Noise Induced Hearing Loss is made.
It seems, in noise induced hearing loss at least, that ignorance is not bliss!
Alison Head is a Trainee Personal Injury Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Sheffield.
For a free consultation to discuss an Industrial Deafness claim for compensation, please call Slater and Gordon on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we'll be happy to help you.
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