Occupational diseases and occupational hearing loss are complicated areas of workers’ compensation law. The fact that these injuries do not seem to have an easily ascertainable starting date may seem like a problem for an Employee but the law is generous in these situations. The Date of Injury is determined to be the date on which the Employee was last exposed to that hazard which caused the injury. When dealing with work-related hearing loss, a workers’ compensation court will look for four things: whether the claim was timely filed, whether the hearing loss is permanent, whether there is a binaural hearing loss of at least 10%, and whether the hearing loss was caused by the hazardous occupational noise. In a situation where an Employee does suffer a permanent, binaural hearing loss of at least 10%, the Employee will be entitled to an award of at least 26 weeks of the Employee’s compensation rate, not to exceed 260 weeks (or 5 years) of the Employee’s compensation rate.
In some situations the time limit for filing can be extended to start tolling when an employee knew (usually when a doctor tells you) or should have known the condition was related to working. In some cases, the injured employee is better off with an older date of injury for compensation rate purposes. You have 120 days to provide notice to your employer that you suffered a work injury and three (3) years to file a claim petition. Statute of limitations can be real tricky and there are many exceptions. If you have any questions, feel free to call us at 1-877-291-9675 at no cost.