Work-Related Hearing and Vision Loss Attorney
In certain workplace environments, workers have exposure to the risk of suffering injuries that can leave them disabled for the rest of their lives. These injuries include hearing and vision loss and eye/ear injuries.
Losing one of your senses will completely change your life. If the conditions of your job caused you to lose your hearing or vision capabilities, you have the right to important benefits under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.
To receive all the payments you deserve for your lasting injuries, consider discussing your legal rights with a workers’ compensation attorney who knows how to handle complex cases involving work-related disabilities.
Causes of Hearing and Vision Loss
Losing the ability to see or hear is arguably one of the worst things a person can imagine. Many factors cause and contribute to hearing and vision loss.
Here are three common causes of eye and ear injuries:
- Motor vehicle accidents. Car accidents and other motor vehicle accidents often result in traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). TBIs may cause hearing or vision problems, which can be either temporary or permanent. When vehicles collide, a driver or passenger may experience a blow to the head, causing head trauma or brain damage. In addition, when vehicles crash, the decibel level can be so high that it can cause damage to the human ear, while the deployed airbag or shards of glass may cause eye injuries.
- Defective products. Sometimes, eye or ear injuries occur as a result of defective products. When a defective product causes damage to the consumer’s eyes or ears, the injured consumer can seek compensation for their economic and non-economic losses and damages.
- Workplace accidents. When workers have exposure to loud noises and hazardous chemicals in the workplace, they are likely to suffer eye and ear injuries or even experience partial or complete hearing and vision loss. When this happens, an injured worker has a right to pursue benefits through the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance.
If you experienced hearing or vision injuries in any of the above-mentioned situations, consider contacting a skilled attorney to explain your compensation options and help you secure the compensation to which you are entitled.
Common Types of Hearing and Vision Injuries
When a motor vehicle accident, defective product, or workplace accident damages the eyes, it may cause:
- Double vision
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Visual acuity loss
- Exposure to chemicals in the eyes
- Detached retina
- The loss of an eye
- Penetration of an eye with a foreign object
- Convergence insufficiency
Common hearing injuries include:
- Bleeding in the ear canal
- The puncture of the eardrum by a foreign object
- Middle ear injury
- Cochlear damage
- Damage to middle ear bones
Regardless of the vision or hearing injury you suffered, you may seek compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, diminished earning capacity, and other losses.
The Loss of Hearing at Work
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that hearing loss is a serious problem for millions of people working in the United States. The following are some estimated statistics regarding the risks of hearing loss related to your job:
- 10 million people live with hearing loss due to excessive noise
- 4 million people have jobs that expose them to excessive noise every day
- 22 million people are exposed to excessive noise at work at least once per year
- About 14 percent of occupational illness cases involved hearing loss
- 23,000 people report work-related hearing impairments each year
- 82 percent of hearing loss cases came out of the manufacturing industry
Despite safety guidelines regarding ear protection in work environments, many companies still allow dangerous conditions that can damage hearing. These include persistent high levels of noise, isolated incidents of loud noises (such as explosions), or even chemicals considered to be ototoxic, which can cause harm to the ear.
Guidelines recommend that people at work should not be exposed to noise over 85 decibels (dB) for eight hours. However, a bulldozer traditionally operates at 88 dB, which can cause harm after more than four hours. A lawnmower operates at about 94 dB, which is dangerous after one hour. An ambulance siren is only safe for 15 minutes, while a rock concert is only safe for 30 seconds without protection.
Hearing loss may be gradual or may happen all at once. In addition, there are many different degrees of hearing loss, including:
- Slight – hearing loss below 25 dB
- Mild – hearing loss below 40 dB
- Moderate – hearing loss below 55 dB
- Moderately severe – hearing loss below 70 dB
- Severe – hearing loss below 90 dB
- Profound – hearing loss at and in excess of 91 dB
Workers’ compensation claims based on hearing loss can involve complex calculations and formulas to determine how much payment a victim receives based on her level of hearing loss and the effects on her life.
Eye Injuries and Vision Loss
Vision loss can be caused by injuries to the eye or by diseases. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), an estimated 2,000 people sustain injuries to an eye at work each and every day in the U.S. About 33 percent of those individuals require treatment at an emergency department and 100 of the daily victims miss at least one day of work.
The following are only some examples of how vision can be damaged in the workplace:
- Small pieces of metal, glass, or other debris hit the eye
- Dust particles enter the eye
- The eye is hit by sparks or flame
- The eye suffers direct trauma from tools, materials, or other objects
- Staples, nails, or other sharp objects penetrate the eye
- The eye is exposed to bright flashes of light
- Chemical burns to the eye
- Traumatic brain injuries
Furthermore, workers can contract harmful eye diseases at work from contamination of the eye by blood drops, dirty fingers, coughing or sneezing, and similar contact.
One of the most important workplace safety guidelines is that workers should be provided with appropriate and necessary protective eyewear if they are engaged in potentially harmful activities. All too often, however, an eye is left unprotected and is injured, sometimes permanently damaging a person’s vision. Victims can suffer from blurred vision or the loss of peripheral vision, a percentage of their sight, or sight in one or both eyes.
The Effects of Sensory Injuries
Hearing and sight are two of only five senses upon which humans rely almost every second of the day. When one sense is impaired, it can affect many different functions and abilities. Ear injuries and eye injuries often result in substantial losses, including the following:
Medical expenses – Eye and ear injuries often require medical treatment, including diagnostic testing, medications, follow-up appointments, surgeries, and even hospitalization. The costs of treatment add up quickly and can cause significant financial challenges.
Lost wages – Medical appointments take time and many injured people must miss work to ensure they follow their recommended treatment plan. In addition, some injuries require patients to rest as part of their recovery, and this usually includes not working. Any lost wages from missed work can take a toll on your household’s finances, so wage replacement benefits are critical.
Disability – In some cases, vision or hearing loss can be permanent and so severe that it prohibits a victim from ever returning to work. Losing the ability to earn a living will completely alter your life, and you may have to rely on disability benefits to pay for your basic needs and expenses.
Obtaining workers’ compensation benefits for medical expenses, lost wages, and disabilities can be a complex process, especially in cases involving vision or hearing loss. You should always
who fully understands the claim process and how to appeal a denial in Illinois. Whether you are considering a claim or have already been denied, it is never too soon to call our office for more information.
What Compensation Can You Seek for Your Hearing or Vision Injury?
If you suffered a hearing or vision injury, you are probably facing mounting medical bills. The injury may also prevent you from working, causing a loss of income.
You may have options for compensation to seek reimbursement for your medical expenses and recover your lost wages.
- Workers’ compensation. If you lost your hearing or vision or suffered an eye or ear injury at work, you most likely have a right to file a workers’ compensation claim. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission estimates that more than 90 percent of workers in the state have coverage under the workers’ compensation act. However, the downside of workers’ comp benefits is that they will not compensate for all the losses. If your employer does not provide workers’ comp insurance, you may have a right to sue the employer for your hearing or vision injuries.
- A personal injury claim. You can file a personal injury claim to recover damages if (a) you experienced your hearing or vision injury outside of the workplace (e.g., a car accident) or (b) you suffered injuries at work because of negligence or wrongful conduct on the part of a third party. Injured workers can pursue both a workers’ compensation and a third-party personal injury claim to maximize their compensation.
When filing a personal injury claim, the injured party can seek compensation for their non-economic damages such as mental anguish, emotional distress, suffering, pain, and other losses that workers’ compensation insurance does not cover. Consider speaking with an experienced attorney to review your particular case and identify all available options for compensation.
Proving Fault in a Personal Injury Claim
When filing a personal injury claim stemming from a car accident, slip and fall accident, or a workplace accident caused by a third party’s negligence, you must prove the defendant’s fault by establishing:
- Duty of care. The defendant owed you a duty of care.
- Breach. The defendant breached the duty, causing your vision or hearing injury;
- Causation. Your injury occurred as a result of the defendant’s breach.
- Damages. You suffered damages, including economic and non-economic, due to the breach.
Contact a skilled attorney to help you pursue a personal injury claim and prove the other party’s fault. Your attorney will investigate the circumstances of your accident and gather the necessary evidence to establish the above-mentioned elements of negligence.
How to Calculate Damages for Hearing and Vision Injuries?
Each case is unique, which is why you might want to work with a skilled attorney to estimate the lifetime costs of living with a hearing or vision injury.
When calculating damages for a hearing or vision injury, an attorney will consider:
- Economic damages include medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, out-of-pocket expenses, past and future lost wages, diminished earning capacity, and others. These damages can be easily quantified using bills and receipts.
- Non-economic damages refer to any subjective and non-monetary losses such as pain and suffering. Typically, non-economic damages for victims who suffer from hearing or vision loss will exceed the economic ones because the emotional trauma associated with hearing/vision injuries is too burdensome. Non-economic damages may include loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, permanent scarring, inconvenience, loss of companionship, and others.
An injured party might even recover punitive damages, which are available to victims who become injured by someone else’s recklessness, gross negligence, wantonness, or willful conduct (735 ILCS 5/13-202). Consider contacting a knowledgeable attorney to calculate the appropriate compensation amount in your case.
Why You Need an Attorney to Recover Damages for Hearing and Vision Injuries
If you experienced hearing or vision loss or any other eye or ear injuries at work or as a result of someone else’s negligent or wrongful conduct, you might be entitled to compensation. However, obtaining the compensation to which you are entitled can be complicated, which is why you might want to consider hiring a skilled attorney to assist you with obtaining the compensation you deserve.
A knowledgeable attorney on your side will do the following to help you recover damages:
- Investigate the cause of your hearing or vision injury
- Calculate your damages to secure fair compensation
- Collect evidence proving the other party’s fault
- Identify liable parties
- Handle all communications with the insurance company on your behalf
- Appeal the denial of your claim
- Take your case to court if you do not settle
Living with hearing or vision loss can change your life in an instant. As a result of your hearing or vision injury, you may never return to work or provide for your family.
Ear and eye injuries can be very costly to treat, which is why you need the resources to pay your medical expenses and cover your other losses. Get a case review with an experienced attorney to help you navigate the legal aspects of your claim and fight for the compensation that you deserve.
Contact a Chicago Hearing and Vision Loss Lawyer to Discuss Your Situation
At the law firm of Abels & Annes, we regularly represent the rights of injured workers in and around the Chicago area. We can handle every step of the workers’ compensation process for our clients from the initial claim to the final appeal. If you schedule a free consultation, you can learn more about the many ways we may assist in obtaining the important benefits you need after a work injury. Please call to speak with a workplace injury attorney at 312-924-7575 for free today.