There are a number of injuries that Oklahoma workers may suffer in the workplace. Many of these injuries like sprains or strains may only be temporary. However, there are some injuries like hearing loss that are far more serious as they have lasting consequences.
Causes of Hearing Loss Injuries
Hearing loss typically occurs as a result of exposure to loud noise. A noise is considered dangerously loud when it is above 85 decibels or if it is loud enough to make it difficult to communicate with someone who is three feet away.
Exposure to certain chemicals can also cause hearing loss. Chemicals such as mercury, lead, carbon monoxide, and trichloroethylene can damage the inner ear and lead to permanent hearing loss.
The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that workers in every industry are at risk of suffering work-related hearing loss. However, the risk is much higher for workers in certain industries, such as mining and construction.
5 Important Facts About Workers’ Compensation for Hearing Loss Injuries
If you have suffered a hearing loss related to your job, it is important that you understand your rights when it comes to workers’ compensation benefits.
1. You are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if your hearing loss is work-related.
Most Oklahoma employees are covered by the state’s workers’ compensation system and are therefore entitled to benefits for work-related injuries. This includes compensation for hearing loss, whether it was from an isolated incident -- e.g., a sudden accident or explosion -- or from prolonged exposure to loud noises.
2. You must prove that your hearing loss is work-related.
Even though Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation system is no-fault, you will still have to prove that your hearing loss is work-related. If your injury occurred at home or anywhere else unrelated to your job, workers’ comp will not cover your injury. To file a successful claim, you must demonstrate that you have been exposed to loud noise at work and provide documentation from your doctor that your hearing loss is consistent with the type of noise levels you were exposed to at work.
3. Your claim may be denied at first.
Approximately 70% of first-time workers’ comp benefits applications are denied, so don’t give up. In Oklahoma, you have the right to file an appeal and continue fighting for benefits. The Workers’ Compensation Commission will hear your appeal and you will need to gather evidence to show you have a valid claim under Oklahoma law since the burden of proof lies with you. This can be challenging, especially when you are in the process of treatment for your injury. Since the appeals process is complex and legal in nature, it would be to your benefit to speak with an experienced Oklahoma workers’ comp attorney to represent you at the hearing or help you negotiate a settlement.
4. You may be eligible for several types of benefits.
Employees are generally compensated for lost wages, medical bills, and other types of losses that are incurred after being hurt at work. Workers’ compensation also provides injured workers with temporary and permanent disability benefits based on the severity and duration of the injury or illness.
5. You may be entitled to additional compensation.
Injured workers may be able to recover compensation from other parties besides their employers after a job-related injury. For example, workers who are injured by defective products can file a product liability claim against the manufacturer. Employers can also be sued if their extremely reckless behavior or bad conduct results in an injury. For instance, not providing employees with the proper safety gear is an example of extremely reckless behavior. In this situation, the injured employee may file a personal injury claim against the employer.
Have you lost your hearing at work? If so, seek legal representation from the attorneys at Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. at once. Our attorneys understand how hearing loss can impact your life, which is why we will work tirelessly to ensure you are fully compensated through the workers’ compensation system. Call us now at 918-582-2500, toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.