Decatur Hearing Loss Lawyer
Decatur Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
Loud noises are a fact of life for workers on construction sites, in factories, warehouses, and in heavy industry. Hopefully, workers are provided with adequate protection to protect their sensitive hearing, such as earplugs or noise-canceling headphones. Prolonged exposure to harmful noises can inflict very real injury in the form of hearing loss. Unfortunately, proving hearing loss and getting the benefits you deserve can be hard to do. Georgia workers’ compensation covers hearing loss but requires the worker to go through very complex calculations, testing and diagnosis to come up with the applicable level of benefit and length of payments.
If your workers’ comp claim for hearing loss has been accepted but you are unsure whether your check is the right amount or how to settle your case, an experienced Decatur hearing loss lawyer can help. Call the O’Connell Law Firm with your questions. We limit our practice exclusively to Georgia workers’ compensation law and are ready to help you get the benefits that you are entitled to under the law.
Georgia Workers’ Compensation Provides Benefits for Hearing Loss
Section 34-9-264 of the Georgia Code covers compensation for loss of hearing caused by harmful noise. This law defines occupational loss of hearing as “a permanent sensorineural loss of hearing in both ears caused by prolonged exposure to harmful noise in employment.” A “harmful noise,” in turn, is defined as one greater than 90 decibels. According to some noise reduction specialists, 90 decibels is equivalent to the sound of a nearby newspaper press or power mower, a motorcycle at 25 feet, or a Boeing 737 or DC-9 aircraft at one nautical mile before landing. Compared to a relatively normal range of 70 decibels, 90 decibels is four times as loud and likely to cause damage after eight hours of exposure.
Georgia’s workers’ comp law for hearing loss provides the typical wage replacement benefits of two-thirds the worker’s average weekly wage, but subject to special rules. Testing for hearing loss can only be conducted at frequencies of 500, 1,000 and 2,000 cycles per second, and hearing loss at frequencies below 500 or above 2,000 cycles per second is not compensable.
The percentage of hearing loss is calculated at those specific frequencies, and the loss must be greater than 15 decibels to be compensable. To be 100% loss compensable, the loss must average 82 decibels at the tested frequencies.
These complex calculations are performed for each ear to arrive at a percentage of binaural hearing impairment. Total loss is payable for 150 weeks, while a partial loss is payable in proportion to the loss.
Only Certain Types of Hearing Loss Injuries Are Compensable in Georgia Workers’ Compensation
Compensable hearing loss as measured above may be paid due to damage to the inner ear or auditory nerve. This loss could be caused by trauma, illness, or long-term exposure. Long-term exposure is equal to 90 days in the Georgia code. In the case of a traumatic hearing loss injury, benefits are limited to 75 weeks for damage to one ear or 150 weeks if both ears are harmed.
Although hearing loss could be caused by trauma, illness or prolonged exposure, certain causes of hearing loss are specifically excluded from Georgia workers’ compensation. These causes include:
- Psychogenic hearing loss
- Age-related hearing loss
- Earwax buildup
- Meniere’s disease
Also, no matter the cause, hearing loss will not be compensable if the worker failed to utilize safety devices provided by the employer, such as headgear, earplugs, noise-canceling headphones or other hearing protection.
Get Professional Legal Help with Your Decatur Workers’ Compensation Issues
Proving the source of hearing loss, and proving that the source is covered by workers’ comp, can be highly technical and challenging. Special rules also exist when the hearing loss might be attributable to a succession of multiple employers. Finally, an injured employee cannot file a claim until at least six months from exposure to harmful noise.
These rules and the complex calculations for figuring hearing loss make workers’ compensation for hearing loss one of the most complicated areas of Georgia worker’s compensation. If you have a claim for hearing loss in Decatur but are not sure whether you are receiving the right amount of benefits or how to settle your case, call the O’Connell Law Firm at 404-410-0034 or contact us online for a free consultation with one of our skilled and dedicated Decatur workers’ compensation lawyers.