Tinnitus is caused by a problem in the auditory system, which includes parts of the brain, the auditory nerve, and the ear. It is not a disease, but a symptom of another problem. Tinnitus can cause hearing loss, in addition to ringing, hissing, roaring, clicking, and buzzing in the ears. Some of the causes of tinnitus include:
- Noise-induced hearing loss
- Brain tumors
- Sinus and ear infections
- Thyroid abnormalities
- Diseases of the blood vessels or the heart
- Side effects from medication
- Age-related hearing loss
- Changes in the middle ear bones
Noise-related hearing loss is a serious problem for firefighters. First responders are subjected to loud sirens, sometimes on a daily basis. Additionally, the equipment used by firefighters can be very loud. The sirens and equipment can be the cause of hearing loss. However, firefighters cannot avoid these noises because they are an element of their job. In other words, to perform their job, firefighters are necessarily subjected to loud noise.
Using hearing protection can help reduce the risk of hearing loss and tinnitus. However, even with the use of hearing protection devices, long-term exposure to the loud noises is a common factor in the cause of hearing loss for firefighters.
Complications of Hearing Loss and Tinnitus
In addition to the symptoms of tinnitus, hearing loss and tinnitus can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. Complications that some people report with hearing loss and tinnitus include:
- Sleep problems
- Irritability and anxiety
- Memory problems
- Trouble concentrating
Some of the complications can make it difficult to work or function in daily life. Hearing loss can make it more difficult for a firefighter to perform his or her job safely. For instance, hearing loss could prevent a firefighter from hearing signs that indicate a dangerous situation is about to place the firefighter and others in danger such as flooring, walls, or roofs beginning to collapse. Being unable to hear what is going on around you can be very dangerous for a firefighter.
Firefighters who experience hearing loss, tinnitus, or any of the complications associated with the conditions should seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
Is Hearing Loss Covered by Workers’ Compensation in Maryland?
Yes, Maryland’s workers’ comp system covers occupational disease claims, such as hearing loss. Proving the following elements are crucial for obtaining workers’ comp benefits for hearing loss:
- The level of hearing loss;
- The associated damages caused by the hearing loss; and,
- That on-the-job conditions caused the hearing loss.
A Maryland workers’ comp attorney can help you obtain the necessary medical documentation proving that you have suffered a loss of hearing. In addition, your attorney can gather the required documentation and proof that substantiates the claim that being exposed to loud noises can result in hearing loss.
Because proving that a gradual loss of hearing is related to job conditions can be a complicated undertaking, it can be helpful to consult with a Maryland workers’ comp attorney as soon as possible. Some workers’ comp insurance providers fight hearing loss claims for firefighters. Working with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Maryland can help ensure that you build a strong case backed up by evidence that proves you are entitled to workers’ comp benefits for hearing loss.
What Workers’ Comp Benefits Can You Receive for Hearing Loss Claims?
Firefighters who file a claim for hearing loss may be entitled to receive several benefits under the state’s workers’ compensation laws. Depending on the facts in your case, you may be entitled to receive workers’ comp benefits including:
- Medical Treatment — An employee injured on the job or who suffers a work-related illness or condition is entitled to receive reasonable medical treatment for the condition.
- Temporary Partial Disability Benefits — Temporary wage assistance is paid when a worker is unable to work full time because of the injury or condition. Benefits are subject to a maximum amount and are based on the worker’s average weekly wages.
- Temporary Total Disability Benefits — Temporary wage assistance is paid when workers are unable to work at all because of their illness or condition. As with temporary partial disability benefits, temporary total disability benefits are also subject to maximum amounts and based on the workers’ average weekly wages.
- Permanent Partial Disability Benefits — Benefits paid to a worker who has a permanent disability that does not prevent the worker from continued employment.
- Permanent Total Disability Benefits — Benefits paid to a worker who suffers a disability that permanently prevents him or her from engaging in meaningful employment.
Firefighters who suffer hearing loss may also be entitled to other benefits such as vocational rehabilitation and wage reimbursement benefits.
Maryland Workers’ Comp Attorneys for Hearing Loss Claims
If you believe your hearing has been damaged while performing your duties as a firefighter, we want to help. Contact Pinder Plotkin LLC by calling 410-525-5337 to schedule your free case review with a Parkville workers’ compensation lawyer.