Tinnitus Compensation Explained
It must be pointed out that tinnitus can arise naturally from ageing and other middle and inner ear diseases and infections. See all my other blog posts on What is Tinnitus? - What Causes Tinnitus? - Tinnitus Cures - Tinnitus Videos - Tinnitus Info-graphics and More about Tinnitus.
Can you claim?
You can usually claim against tinnitus under something called Occupational Noise Induced Hearing Loss (ONIHL) which covers all categories of deafness due to working in very loud working environments. Tinnitus can stand on its own as a claim if you (or any other individual) has been subjected to high occupational noise, acoustic trauma (Gun shots, Loud Bangs, Loud Music at Concerts etc..) or stress which often aggravates and increases tinnitus problems.
How to establish a credible claim
You will need to show that your tinnitus was both caused by over exposure to noise and it was caused by someone's negligence. Example being working at a rock concert over a week and your employer didn't provide ear plugs or proper breaks which both provided you stress and no ear protection from the noise provides you with grounds for Tinnitus Compensation.
Claiming against employers is a big portion of all claims for tinnitus compensation and these claims are brought under the Noise at Work Regulations 1989 which came in force in January the 1st 1990. If noise levels exceed 85 decibel (dBa - Learn about decibel here) and your employer failed to take action to protect you from the noise. Tip: If your fellow employees have to shout to communicate to you or others then levels probably have been exceeded.
Since 2006 this threshold has been lowered to 80 dB (A) (understand what (A) A-Weighting is Here)
To have a stronger case you must bring this claim within 3 years of your tinnitus onset from noise exposure. Some claims can be brought later but the sooner the better.
If you severed in the armed forces you will need to deal with your claim through the Armed Forces: http://www.veterans-uk.info/pensions/afcs.html
How much tinnitus compensation will I get?
The amount of tinnitus compensation really depends on its severity and your personal reaction to the tinnitus. This covers a range of things like: Ability to sleep, effects on day-to-day living, how loud your tinnitus is, how frequent it is and so on.
The British Association of Otolaryngologists (head and neck surgeons) grades tinnitus into the following categories: slight, mild, moderate, severe and catastrophic. Your claim will be judged using the factors such as ability to sleep to come to their judgement for your claim.
The Judicial Studies Board Guidelines are a regularly published set of guidelines that set out brackets of tinnitus compensation awards for personal injury. These guidelines are most commonly used in cases of tinnitus compensation.
The current edition (10th) of the JSB Guidelines in relation to Hearing Loss and Tinnitus provides, as follows:
“Partial Hearing Loss/Tinnitus:
This category covers the bulk of deafness cases which usually result from exposure to noise over a prolonged period. The disability is not to be judged simply by the degree of hearing loss; there is often a degree of tinnitus present. Age is particularly relevant because impairment of hearing affects most people in the fullness of time and impacts both upon causation and upon valuation.
(i) Severe tinnitus/hearing loss £19,500 - £30,000
(ii) Moderate tinnitus/hearing loss £9,750 - £19,500
(iii) Mild tinnitus with some hearing loss £8,250 - £9,750
(iv) Slight or occasional tinnitus with slight hearing loss £4,850 - £8,250
It should be noted that tinnitus is accompanied by hearing loss in these guidelines but it doesn't need to be. The tinnitus compensation guidelines are large because they don't focus on current damages to day-to-day living but future damages known as 'special damages' which include hearing loss, loss of earnings, disadvantage on the labour market and devices to help you cope with your tinnitus.
How is a claim funded?
There are a number of ways of funding a claim, including paying privately or by financial support from a Trade Union. Occasionally legal aid is available. However, one of the most common ways is the use of Conditional Fee Agreements. These are essentially ‘no win no fee’ agreements and are usually accompanied by an insurance policy so that the individual can pursue a claim without risk of having to pay any costs.