What if you could no longer listen to your favorite songs or wake up to the bird chirping outside? There are a million reasons we cherish our hearing and it's understandable why we would be upset if our hearing was lost or damaged.
Being upset, however, doesn't always make for a valid legal claim. So when can you sue for hearing damage or loss? That will generally depend on how and where you were injured.
Putting Your Ear to the Grindstone
Injuries sustained at work are normally covered by workers' compensation insurance. Workers' comp claims are handled out of court, and therefore they are a way to compensate injured workers without the need for filing a lawsuit.
If your hearing was damaged either at work or due to the type of work you do, you will probably need to file a workers' comp claim before you can file a lawsuit. Note that the rules for workers' comp claims at railroads and construction sites (two very loud workplaces), are different from your standard claim.
If your hearing has been damaged or lost outside of work (e.g. from a car accident) you'll probably need to file a standard injury lawsuit. Injury claims can be based on:
- Auto and other accidents, where injuries are due to another person's negligence.
- Medical malpractice, where injuries are due to faulty medical care.
- Product liability, where injuries are due to a dangerous or defective product.
- Tort liability, where injuries are due to anything from slip and falls to slander to dog bites.
Filing a lawsuit based on hearing loss will generally require you to prove that the defendant owed you a duty of care, that they failed to meet that duty, and that failure caused the damage to your hearing. You will also need to describe and put a dollar on your hearing loss, which can be especially difficult when dealing with one of our most valued senses.
If you've suffered damage to your hearing, you may want to consult with an experienced injury attorney to find out if you have a claim.