Work-Related Hearing and Vision Loss Attorney
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 make sure you receive all the payments you deserve for your lasting injuries, you should always discuss your legal rights with a Chicago workplace injury law firm that knows how to handle complex cases involving work-related disabilities.
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 contact an attorney 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.
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.