Exposure to excessive noise is one of the leading causes of hearing loss around the world. In recent years, insurers in the United Kingdom have noticed a dramatic increase in the number of noise-induced hearing loss claims against employers. With the number of claims nearing record highs last year, the insurance industry is asking that tighter guidelines be put in place regarding the types of claims that can be filed.
What Is Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?
The mechanisms in your body that allow you to hear are incredibly sensitive. When you’re exposed to any kind of sound, the auditory system in your inner ear changes those sound waves into a signal that your brain can interpret. One of the key components to this auditory system is a series of hair cells that transfer sounds from your ear to the hearing centers of your brain. The majority of noise-induced hearing loss occurs when these hair cells are damaged after being exposed to excessively loud noises.
You can be exposed to these excessively loud noises anywhere. For instance, turning up the music too loudly in your car can damage your hearing. If you regularly attend noisy bars or music venues, these activities could also cause noise-induced hearing loss. For some people, excessive noise in the workplace leads to hearing loss, and this is the source of most the recent insurance claims.
Why the Increase in Hearing Loss Claims?
The last time the number of hearing loss claims was this high was back in the ‘90s, right before a series of laws increased health and safety standards for industrial workers. Today, these laws are still on the books. So why the sudden increase in claims in the last few years? The answer could lie in a totally unrelated new law.
Two years ago, a series of legal reforms put a limit on the fees that lawyers could collect from traffic accident claims. As you can imagine, insurance claims resulting from traffic accidents can be very lucrative. In an attempt to make up some of the income that’s no longer available from automobile accident claims, it’s possible that attorneys have been encouraging employees to file hearing loss claims against their employers.
It’s not yet clear whether or not insurance regulators in the UK will create higher standards for judging noise-induced hearing loss suffered in the workplace. But with the recent spat of claims only having a success rate of around 30%, it may be time to put tougher regulations in place.
If you or someone you know would like to learn more about hearing loss and how to treat it, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!