Loss of hearing in one ear or in both ears can occur at work when a worker is continually exposed to loud noise, such as loud machinery and tools. Hearing loss can also occur when a worker is exposed to a singular event, such as an explosion. This noise exposure can cause damage to the ears resulting in hearing loss and/or tinnitus, which is ringing in the ears. Both of these conditions can greatly affect your ability to work and your quality of life.
Iowa Law Entitles You to Workers' Compensation for Work-Related Hearing Loss/Tinnitus
If you experience hearing loss or tinnitus from exposure in your work environment, you are entitled to Workers' Compensation benefits under Iowa law. Depending on your claim, these benefits could include medical treatment and tests, lost wages and disability.
How Compensation for Hearing Loss Injuries Works
Hearing loss is considered a "scheduled member disability", meaning that your entitlement is based upon the body part injured. Each body part has a different value in weeks assigned to it. This was set up by the legislature and is dispositive as to a number of weeks each body part has its total value. For a loss of hearing in one ear, the maximum value is 50 weeks. If your hearing loss in that ear is something less than a complete loss of hearing, then you are entitled to that percentage times the number of weeks. For a loss of hearing in both ears, the maximum loss of hearing in both ears is 175 weeks.
For example, if you have a hearing loss in both ears and the doctor ends up indicating that you have a 20% impairment to your hearing, you would be entitled to 20% of 175 weeks or 35 weeks of benefits at your weekly rate. However, as indicated above, the impairment rating may not be the only amount that can be awarded by the Iowa Workers' Compensation Commissioner. The impairment rating is typically considered the most dispositive factor in determining the loss of use of the body part but is not the only amount that can be awarded.
Contact the Attorneys of Pothitakis Law for Help With Your Claim
Tinnitus (chronic ringing in the ears) can affect your job performance and your day-to-day life. If you experience tinnitus and believe it was caused by noise exposure at work, you need to file a Workers' Compensation claim with your employer. It is also advisable to contact a knowledgeable Workers' Compensation lawyer to make sure you receive the benefits you are entitled to under Iowa law if you experience hearing loss or tinnitus. Pothitakis Law Firm offers a free initial consultation to discuss your specific case.