Employment at sea is known to be tough work. While marine casualties make the headlines when seamen fall overboard, lose a limb due to equipment malfunctions, or pass away as the result of vessel sinking and capsizing, many more seafarers will suffer another debilitating injury—hearing loss.
Workers on or around the water are all too often exposed to loud noises. Hearing loss is a real danger after years of working on or near the water. While some workers may only endure modest hearing loss, others may lose their ability to hear entirely. In either case, hearing loss can be painful and have far-reaching consequences for a person's future.
Hearing loss can be caused by long-term exposure to loud noises, as well as impacts on the head. In many maritime vocations, chronic noise exposure is negligently frequent, and accidents resulting in brain trauma may occur.
Sensorineural hearing loss is a type of hearing loss caused by abnormalities in the inner ear and is caused by loud exposure or head trauma. Noise can harm nerve cells and tiny hairs in the inner ear that convey sound impulses to the brain over time. If you continually have to ask people to repeat what they say, if you increase the volume on the radio or television more than usual, or if you begin to dread social situations because you can't keep up with discussions, you may have this form of hearing loss.
Most people imagine ships sinking at sea, accidents involving fishing equipment, crane mishaps in ports, or falls into cargo holds when they think of the dangers and risks of the maritime industry. These are the dramatic dangers that are dreadful when they happen, but they eclipse other, less newsworthy threats.
Since noise promotes hearing loss, it is a severe health danger. Maritime workers are exposed to a variety of loud sounds and noise from a variety of sources. Large diesel engines, turbines, cranes, fishing and industrial equipment, and other items are among them.
Unfortunately, hearing loss that results from years of working at sea may be irreversible. The nerves and hairs of the inner ear can become damaged in a way that cannot be readily or completely repaired. However, there are medications and medical devices that may provide relief, so all hope is not lost. Hearing aids can be used to magnify sound and corticosteroid drugs can decrease inflammation in the inner ear, which may enhance hearing.
The amount of noise that workers and passengers aboard ships can be exposed to is regulated by workplace safety standards. Maritime employers have a duty to act reasonably and provide a seaworthy vessel and protect crew and passengers from hearing damage.
If you are experiencing hearing loss after working around loud noises on ships, maritime law may allow you to demand compensation for injuries you know were caused by your place of employment. While statutes of limitations often require mariners to report accidents or maritime injuries within a specified time frame or risk waiving the claim, injuries like hearing loss may still be compensable years later. Under certain circumstance, the statute of limitations may be waived in the case of damage, such as hearing loss, whose cause is first discovered long after initial exposure or after a period of exposure. Talk to a Jones Act lawyer as a matter of urgency.
If you are suffering from hearing loss as the result of loud noises on the job, it may be difficult to know where to start. An experienced maritime lawyer can evaluate your case and advise you on the best course of action. If your hearing loss was caused by a negligent employer, contact (253) 600-2531 now. Mariner Law, PLLC is experienced in handling a wide variety of maritime personal injury claims. Admiralty lawyer Adam Deitz has the background, legal knowledge, and resources to safeguard your rights to compensation under the Jones Act, LHWCA, unseaworthiness, and maintenance and cure. The firm proudly serves mariner clients in Washington, Oregon, New York, Connecticut, Alaska, and nationwide.