Hearing loss is reportedly the second most common health condition experienced by Australians and is more common than asthma, heart disease, cancer and diabetes. It is believed that 37% of hearing loss is noise related and preventable. Ear injuries can affect hearing and can have significant effects on a person’s lifestyle and ability to earn income.
You may be able to claim compensation for an ear injury if it resulted from someone else’s negligence or carelessness. Negligence may arise in a variety of settings.
If you are injured at work, you may be able to claim workers compensation from your employer. Employers must provide proper and adequate means for employees to carry out their work. This includes:
If you are injured because your employer neglects to provide safe systems of work, equipment or a safe environment, you may be able to sue for personal injury compensation. This includes injuries incurred over a long period of time, late onset injuries, and aggravations of pre-existing injuries.
Jobs that pose the highest risk for ear injuries and loss of hearing include those that involve high contact, loud machinery, loud music and risk of falls. This may include musicians, construction workers, farmers, airline ground workers, members of the military, divers and professional sports people.
Examples: Jeff sustains instant and permanent deafness when an unexpected explosion occurs at work due to faulty equipment. Jeff may be able to claim compensation for his ear injuries as they occurred as a result of his employer’s failure to properly maintain its equipment.
Rick sustains noise related earring loss over a period of time from performing work with a jack hammer without wearing the ear protection his employer provided. Rick may not be able to claim compensation for his injuries as they were due to his own negligence. However, he could apply for Workers Compensation payments if he requires time off work.
See also: WorkCover Claims
If you sustain an ear injury due to a car or road accident and the collision was totally or partially due to the fault of another driver or vehicle owner you can claim compensation from the owner of the vehicle that caused the accident through their Compulsory Third Party insurer.
Examples: Jeff sustains a temporal skull bone fracture when his head hits the window of his vehicle during a collision. The collision is caused by a speeding vehicle changing lanes. Jeff can claim compensation from the owner of the speeding car through its CTP insurer.
Rick is looking out the window while driving and fails to notice that all of the cars in front of him are stopped. He collides with the rear of a car in front of him at speed and sustains an inner ear injury when the side of his head impacts the steering wheel. Rick is unable to claim compensation for his injuries because the accident was totally his fault (although exceptions may apply for catastrophic accidents). If the accident occurred after July 1, 2016 he may be able to seek necessary and reasonable medical and rehabilitation services through the National Injury Insurance Scheme of Queensland (NIISQ).
See Also: Motor vehicle injury claims
Occupiers (including owners of private property and public authorities), have a duty of care toward people coming onto their land. They must take reasonable care to make sure entrants are not exposed to risks that are likely to cause injury. This means if there is something that is potentially dangerous on their property they must rectify it or warn people of the danger.
Common scenarios include someone slipping on a floor surface, tripping over an unexpected obstacle on the ground, falling into an unmarked hole in the pavement, or being hit by falling debris from a building site.
Examples: Johnny is walking across the school oval when he is struck hard in the ear by a rouge cricket ball. The cricket nets were being repaired so cricket practice was being conducted at one end of the oval without any nets or fences to stop stray balls. Johnny may be able to seek compensation for his injuries from the school.
Rachel is playing golf with three friends at a golf course, when she is struck in the ear by a golf ball at close range. Rachel may not be able to claim compensation since there is no negligent action on the part of the owners of the golf course that caused her injury.
The ear is made up of delicate structures designed to maximise vibration of the eardrum for hearing. These can be easily damaged due to trauma. The outer ear is made up of three layers of soft tissue: a cartilage skeleton, the perichondrium and an outer layer of skin.
Damage to your ears may occur in a variety of ways:
Ear injuries may arise in a broad range of situations. For example:
It’s important to get advice for your specific situation. Check if you can make a risk-free compensation claim and get free initial advice from our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.
Check your rights if you've suffered an eye injury or blindness due to negligence of another party on the road, workplace or public place in Queensland