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Answers for Firefighters with Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

February 16, 2016 | Michael Barasch

Noise-induced hearing loss is often an insidious condition that develops so slowly over time that you hardly know it is happening. In fact, your friends or family are likely to notice your hearing loss before you do. But once someone points out that you aren’t picking up on sound cues as well as those around you, you may start to notice the signs of hearing loss.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss include:

  • Muffled or distorted hearing
  • Difficulty understanding speech during conversations
  • Pain or ringing in the ears (tinnitus) after exposure to loud sounds

The condition can result from one-time exposure to an explosion or other very loud noise, or constant exposure to any sound loud enough to do damage. Potentially damaging sound is louder than 85 decibels.

Firefighters are at risk of noise-induced hearing loss because of frequent exposure to sirens, which can be louder than 120 decibels, without proper protective equipment.  Severe hearing loss can make it impossible to perform the duties of your employment and force you to file for disability. Hearing loss also diminishes your enjoyment of life, as you miss out on conversations, entertainment, music and other sounds of the world around you.

Noise-induced hearing loss is irreversible; there are no medical or surgical cures. But it is possible to win compensation. The fact that your hearing loss may have occurred because of inadequate equipment gives you grounds to sue. But first you must get a hearing loss assessment from a trained audiologist or a qualified medical professional.

Barasch & McGarry represents firefighters who have suffered hearing loss due to exposure to loud noise on the job. To learn more about your legal rights, call us at [ln::phone] or contact our office online.

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