Clearwater Firefighters Sue for Occupational Hearing Loss
Eeeeooooeeeeeooo! When you hear that sound, you know it means one thing: get out of the way! While the sirens from a fire truck or ambulance can be startling, they allow firefighters and other emergency personnel to quickly and safely get to the scene of an accident. They play an important role in the life-saving process.
But can you imagine hearing those sirens all the time? For some firefighters in Clearwater, direct exposure to sirens is an everyday reality — and it’s leading to hearing loss.
How Hearing Loss Occurs
Hearing loss affects the inner ear. The inner ear contains the cochlea, a snail-shaped structure covered with thousands of tiny hairs. When noise vibrations reach the inner ear, the cochlea translates them into electrical signals. Then, the signals are transmitted to the brain. But when damage occurs, this process doesn’t work properly. While inner ear damage can occur through accidents or aging, noise exposure, like the Clearwater firefighters are experiencing, is a major cause.
Any noise that measures between 80 and 180 decibels (dbs) can cause damage. A sudden, loud noise might cause immediate damage, while consistent noise, even at a lower decibel, might cause hearing loss over time. In the case of the firefighters, it’s an issue of consistent noise and gradual loss. Considering that the noise of a fire engine’s siren often clocks in around 140 dbs, this isn’t surprising.
Occupational Hearing Loss
In their lawsuit, which was filed by five current and former Clearwater firefighters, they don’t take issue with their occupation. Instead, they place the blame on the siren manufacturer. They claim that the Illinois-based company knew the sirens were inherently dangerous, yet failed to test them for risk of hearing loss. As a result of the company’s action, the plaintiffs say they have suffered permanent damage to their hearing. They are seeking around $75,000 in damages each, along with other compensation.
Hopefully, this close-to-home case raises awareness about occupational hearing loss. Hearing loss can affect workers of many types, not just emergency personnel. People who work in farming, mining, aviation, carpentry, and the military also have a high risk of hearing loss, and even jobs like teaching and dentistry can lead to hearing loss over time. Regardless of the job, if there is loud or prolonged noise, there is a risk of hearing loss.
Workers’ Compensation Options for Hearing Loss
When someone suffers from hearing loss or deafness, they may be entitled to compensation from their employer. However, certain factors cause complications. If an employee is older, their company could potentially argue that it is a natural effect of aging. Additionally, if the injured employee partakes in potentially loud activities outside of work, like hunting, the company may also claim that that activity caused the hearing loss. In other cases, only severe cases qualify an employee for workers’ compensation. In general, much depends on the employee and their circumstances.
If you have experienced hearing loss as a result of your job, it’s important to take immediate steps. Regardless of if you’re a firefighter, teacher, or farmer, you put in hard work every day, and you deserve the best compensation for your hearing troubles.
The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.