Under the North Carolina workers’ compensation laws, occupational hearing loss is considered an occupational disease for which employees can recover income and medical benefits. Commonly asked questions:
Q: Who is entitled to benefits for occupational hearing loss?
A: To be entitled to benefits, an employee must be exposed to workplace noise exceeding 90 decibels for at least 90 working days, or parts thereof.
Q: Can I recover for loss of hearing in only one ear?
A: Except for the preexisting loss of hearing due to disease or congenital defect, you can only recover if the loss of hearing occurs in both ears.
Q: Does the loss of hearing in each ear have to be the same?
A: No. As long as your loss of hearing occurred in both ears, the level of hearing does not have to be the same level of loss (i.e. a person with a 25% loss of hearing in the right ear and a 40% loss in the left may still be able to recover benefits if the loss is due to loud noise at work).
Q: Can I recover benefits for temporary occupational loss of hearing?
A: No, the loss of hearing must be permanent.
Q: Who is responsible for my occupational hearing loss if I have had a number of different employers over the years?
A: The employer liable for benefits is the one in whose employment you were last exposed to 90 decibels over 90 working days.
Q: How are income benefits determined?
A: Benefits are determined by using a complicated formula, which averages your hearing loss in each ear for the frequencies of 500, 1000, 2,000, and 3,000 cycles per second.
Q: Can an employer avoid responsibility for my occupational hearing loss if it requires me to wear hearing protection?
A: No, the provision of hearing protection (i.e. earplugs) and/or a requirement that you wear hearing protection does not bar you from filing a claim for occupational hearing loss.
Q: When can I file a claim for occupational hearing loss?
A: You can only file a claim when you have been removed from the workplace noise. When your employer provides and enforces the use of hearing protection, you are considered to have been removed from the harmful noise.
If you have a question about occupational hearing loss, or you believe you may have a hearing loss claim, contact the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Ward Black Law in Greensboro, N.C., for a free case review. Call today to speak to one of our qualified attorneys: 336-333-2244 or toll-free: 800-531-9191. You may also reach Ward Black Law by email or online inquiry.
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