Tinnitus is a condition where the sufferer experiences ringing in their ears. Usually, this ringing is constant and never-ending. However, in some cases, the ringing will come and go or be exacerbated by certain things. Tinnitus usually occurs with no external stimuli, but it can be induced by certain types of sounds.
Tinnitus that can sometimes be heard by an observer because it arises from an objective, outside source is known as “objective tinnitus.” Objective tinnitus is far less common than the subjective type. Subjective tinnitus is when the sound is only heard by the person who is experiencing the tinnitus. These cases can be difficult, but you’re still entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if your tinnitus was caused by daily exposure to your working conditions or environment.
Causes of Tinnitus
Tones coming from the ear are known as “otoacoustic emissions” and are also said to trigger tinnitus. The objective type of tinnitus tends to have temporary causes. These can include exposure to excessive noise levels at work, side effects of medications, and wax build-up. The tinnitus may subside by removing the cause or masking it with other noises. On the other hand, subjective tinnitus tends to be permanent. Damage to the person’s cochlea, auditory nerve, or brainstem can cause the condition.
Tinnitus From the Workplace
Tinnitus can affect people who work in certain types of jobs. Tinnitus can result from jobs involving loud sounds such as musicians, factory workers, truck drivers, electricians, military members, and construction workers. Loud music is a common factor among tinnitus sufferers and can be related to their occupation. The condition can occur due to factors like amplification equipment used for playing guitars and other instruments during concerts. It’s especially dangerous when workers do not wear proper ear protection. Military members and construction workers often face tinnitus because of heavy and noisy equipment such as tanks, guns, and other machinery used for their jobs. Loud noises from various types of machines present in factories, power plants, airports, and other industrial environments can cause tinnitus that lasts 24 to 48 hours after the person has been exposed to those sounds. Tinnitus may also be brought about by certain drugs such as aspirin or morphine. This treatment can cause tinnitus as a side effect of treatment for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy treatments.
Another cause of tinnitus from the workplace is when workers suffer from head injuries or traumatic brain injuries while at work. Medical studies have demonstrated that approximately 53% of traumatic brain injury victims develop tinnitus. But with workers who experience blast- induced TBI, the number of tinnitus victims could be even more.
Compensation for Tinnitus
Can you sue your workplace for tinnitus? And if so, what is the average compensation for tinnitus in the workplace? A New Jersey employee can file for workers’ compensation benefits if the tinnitus is caused by exposure to sufficiently loud noises in the work environment. There are two types of tinnitus-related workers’ compensation claims. First, work-related tinnitus alone can prevent you from working. If this is the case, you can receive both wage and medical benefits.
The second tinnitus-related workers’ comp claim is related to hearing loss. If tinnitus is causing hearing loss, the injured worker can receive permanent disability hearing loss benefits. However, for the claim to be successful, the claimant needs objective medical testing that supports the allegation that the condition is work-related.
It is well established that tinnitus has a negative effect on a person’s concentration, which could affect their ability to perform their job safely and adequately. If you have successfully established that your hearing loss is work-related, your award will not be reduced if your ability to understand speech is improved using hearing aids. Also, keep in mind that you would not be entitled to benefits if the employer offered proper hearing protection and you failed to use the hearing protection despite several warnings.
Treatment of Tinnitus
Treatment options vary depending on whether tinnitus is temporary or permanent. If the ringing is experienced due to an external factor, then the tinnitus will subside once that external factor goes away. If the tinnitus is permanent, there are tinnitus masking sounds that can be used to cover the ringing noise so other noises will not interfere with the worker’s daily life. Hearing aids can also provide relief from tinnitus by amplifying sound signals which help mask out the tinnitus sound to make it less noticeable for the sufferer.
Treatment options are very limited for individuals who experience subjective tinnitus due to cochlear damage or nerve damage in their brainstem. No treatment exists for otoacoustic emissions, although hearing aids may sometimes provide relief if they amplify all types of noise, including otoacoustic emissions. The best tinnitus treatment is one that helps sufferers cope with tinnitus and live a normal daily life.
Trust Petro Cohen for Your WEAR and TEAR Claim
Petro Cohen, P.C. is recognized as one of New Jersey’s leading workers’ compensation firms, with an emphasis on WEAR and TEAR or repetitive stress injuries. The firm’s Workers’ Compensation Department has more than 100 years of combined experience, among Department Head Frank Petro, Partners Suzanne Holz Meola and Terri Hiles, and lawyers Daniel Rosenthal and Sam Scimeca. Working together with you, they will ensure you receive the medical treatment you need and the compensation you deserve. Petro Cohen, P.C. has offices to serve you in Northfield, Cape May Court House, Cherry Hill, and Hamilton, NJ. To determine if you may have a potential workers’ comp and/or personal injury case, schedule your free and confidential consultation with a Petro Cohen, P.C. attorney. Contact us today.