Are you a shipyard employee, or do you frequently work on boats out at sea? If so, then you are likely familiar with the loud and consistent noises you hear while out at sea or working on ships in the yard. While most maritime workers take these noise levels as just another part of the job, it is important to recognize that consistent exposure to this level of noise can lead to permanent damage and even complete hearing loss.
Below, we’ll go over how working on a ship could impact your hearing and potential avenues for pursuing compensation for maritime injuries.
How Working on a Ship Could Impact Your Hearing
If you work in a shipyard or on a boat, you may be regularly exposed to loud sounds, vibrational hums, and chronic noise pollution. While some workers never experience any ill effects from this exposure, others may suffer hearing damage and hearing loss. In the worst cases, an employee can become completely deaf as a result of too much exposure to noise.
While many maritime workers fear accidents like falling overboard, noise-induced hearing loss is one of the main risk factors for sailors, according to a recent study.
Laws that Cover Maritime Accidents
Most work-related accidents and injuries are covered by workers’ compensation. Maritime workers, however, do not qualify for traditional workers’ compensation coverage because they are operating on “navigable waters.” This means that different laws come into play, since the water is technically not part of any one state’s jurisdiction.
Instead, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act will apply in situations involving maritime hearing loss. To report a hearing injury, you need to notify a supervisor right away, then obtain medical treatment as soon as possible. If the situation is an emergency, skip straight to getting medical attention. Otherwise, you should request Form LS-1 from your employer before seeking out care. Once you do, you will need to use Form LS-203 to file a written claim with the OWCP within a year of getting care.
Does Maritime-Related Hearing Loss Qualify for Compensation?
Yes. Under the Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act, maritime-related hearing loss does qualify as a work injury, which means that you should be able to qualify for compensation after this type of injury.
Legal Options for Seeking Compensation for Maritime-Related Hearing Loss
Work injuries are complicated, and they inevitably result in a whole host of losses, especially when it comes to hearing loss. Hearing loss will impact more than just your job. You may struggle to complete other daily tasks, and total hearing loss can be considered a disability. If your losses exceed the compensation awarded through the Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act coverage, then it might be possible to file an additional claim if your employer or someone else’s negligence caused or contributed to your hearing problems. For instance, if you used defective earplugs, the ear plug manufacturer might be held partially liable.
Do You Have More Legal Questions?
If you experienced hearing loss or hearing damage as a result of working at sea or on boats, then you first need to identify your condition by getting medical treatment. Once you have a solid diagnosis, you will need to identify the extent of your losses. If your losses are significant, it might be in your best interests to connect with a local lawyer to determine whether you have the basis to pursue a claim for compensation.
If you have more legal questions, schedule a case evaluation with our office to discuss your situation in more detail with a lawyer who can help inform you about your legal rights and options as a maritime worker.