McHale & Co. Solicitors Blog

Noise Induced Hearing Loss is a disease

Mr Justice Phillips of the High Court has ruled that noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) constitutes a disease for the purpose of calculating the success fee under Civil Procedure Rule 45.

In the judgment of case Dalton v British Telecommunications, Mr Justice Phillips had to consider whether noise induced hearing loss should be treated as an injury or a disease, as higher success fees apply to disease claims. The claim was brought by four former employees of British Telecommunications (BT). BT settled all four cases before the trial date but later contested the success fee in costs proceedings. The issue arose when the defendant alleged that NIHL should be classed as an injury rather than a disease, with BT seeking a ruling that would identify NIHL as an injury, as this would limit the success fee to 25%.

Mr Justice Phillips said both claimants and defendants had accepted NIHL as a disease following an industry settlement in 2005. However, this standard position changed in 2012 when a ruling on non-freezing cold injuries were found to be classed as an 'injury'. BT argued that the same reasoning should be applied to NIHL, as it is caused by immediate physical trauma, i.e. the exposure to high levels of noise.

The claimants responded by drawing the courts attention to the fact that in all medical texts NIHL is referred to as a 'disease of the ear', with no reports of NIHL being classified medically as an injury. Furthermore, consideration of the legislative history strongly indicated that Parliament intended the term "disease" to include any illness, disorder, ailment, affliction, complaint, malady or derangement other than a physical or physiological injury solely caused by an accident or other similar single event.

As the provisions of section IV of CRP 45 were restricted to injuries caused by accidents or single events, there was no doubt that NIHL was a disease that fell within section V. Furthermore, the Court confirmed that the same reasoning would be applied to vibration white finger claims.

If you worked in a noisy industry for many years and you have hearing difficulties then you may be eligible for making a claim for compensation. To see whether you have a claim for noise induced hearing loss, contact one of our industrial disease specialists at McHale & Co Solicitors on 0161 928 3848. Our Industrial Disease claims are run on a "no win, no fee" basis. Choose us and you can rest assured we will do all we can to secure you the right result.

Categories: Personal Injury

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