The Claimant, W.M., pursued benefits based upon a hearing loss and tinnitus claim. Tinnitus is ringing in one’s ears which is sometimes associated with excessive noise exposure. The Claimant had worked for the employer for over 30 years. A good portion of his work was in a very noisy environment. Although hearing protection was provided, including ear muffs and ear plugs, at times he had to take those out to talk to other employees and at times they were not available. Over the years, the Claimant noticed that his ability to hear was decreasing and the tinnitus or ringing in his ears was increasing.
These two things together made it difficult for him to hear others in noisy environments such as restaurants or places where there was significant background noise. After hiring the Pothitakis Law Firm, the law firm had him evaluated by an expert on hearing loss and tinnitus. That doctor set forth his opinion that the hearing loss and tinnitus was connected to the noise exposure at work and that it resulted in a significant disability.
The defendants had the Claimant’s hearing loss evaluated and their expert indicated that a portion of the hearing loss was related to aging and to pre-existing issues.
Prior to the hearing, the Defendants did not make an offer of settlement as they felt confident that they would win the case. After presenting evidence to the judge, a decision was ultimately rendered finding in favor of W.M. and finding that he had sustained a 35% industrial disability as a result of the hearing loss and tinnitus. This entitled him to 175 weeks of benefits. At his rate, this entitled him to an approximate award of $123,000.
While on appeal, the case was settled for close to the value of the judge’s award. The Claimant and the Pothitakis Law Firm were extremely satisfied in the result and believe that it fairly compensated the Claimant for his hearing loss and ear ringing.