Hearing loss is often considered an occupational disease. There are a special set of rules which deal exclusively with hearing loss. As a general rule, if a worker suffers a permanent sensorineural loss of hearing in both ears caused by prolonged exposure to harmful noise in employment, he can recover 150 weeks of compensation. (2/3 of the workers average weekly wage multiplied by 150.) For partial hearing loss of hearing in both ears, recovery is limited to such portion of this period of payment as such partial loss bears to total loss.
3 Considerations of NC Workers' Comp Benefits for Hearing Loss:
- If the worker had a partial hearing loss before taking the job, the employer is only liable for the difference between the hearing loss as of the date of disability and the percent of hearing loss existing before the claimant first started working for the employer.
- No recovery may be had if the worker fails to use employer – provided protection devices capable of preventing loss of hearing from harmful noise.
- No compensation will be paid unless there is a loss of hearing in both ears. An exception is made in those cases in which the worker had a pre-existing deafness in one ear due to disease, trauma or congenital deafness. In that case the worker can recover for loss of hearing for his one previously good ear starting at the rate of 70 weeks of compensation for total occupational loss of hearing.