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11th April 2016

Industrial deafness claims are on the rise but insurers are wary of their spurious nature…

Industrial deafness claims are on the rise in the increasingly litigious world we live in. Like other claims such as whiplash, they are seen as an easy win for claimants and their representatives.

A report published in The Times newspaper suggested that personal injury lawyers are targeting industrial deafness claims due to the high level of damages that can become payable in successful cases. Association of British Insurers research conducted in 2013 showed that the average fee for settling an industrial deafness claim was £10,500 – a sizeable amount in contrast to other ‘quick fix’ claims such as whiplash.

Insurers such as Aviva, Royal Sun Alliance and AXA have also reported surges in claims of this nature in recent years. It does however appear that once additional information is requested by insurers, the majority of claims will be dropped by the claimant.

As with any other civil liability claim, in order to defend the insured party, evidence needs to be collected to disprove their allegation – in industrial deafness claims, this defence would be evidence that the claimant had not been subjected to harmful levels of noise during their employment with the insured.

In order to gather this evidence, it is advisable for businesses to undertake a noise survey to gather decibel data in the working areas of their premises.

If this data highlights that decibel levels are high, businesses should consider how to reduce their employee’s exposures to this, either by removing the problem at source, modifying working processes, or as a last resort, issuing the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Regular screening of employee’s hearing using an occupational health specialist will also assist in managing the risk.

By keeping records of this; including detailing actions taken, any training delivered to employees and keeping a PPE register, businesses will have the appropriate evidence to defend themselves and protect their insurance budget.

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