According to the insurance industry trade body Association of British Insurers (ABI), an increasing number of people are losing money by having hearing
loss compensation claims rejected.
The ABI figures reveal that while hundreds of thousands of compensation claims have been made for noise induced hearing
loss (NIHL) in recent years, very few are successful as most cannot provide the necessary evidence.
The number of insurance claims for NIHL rose by 189% between 2011 and 2014, with 200,000 claims being made in the last three years alone. The ABI blames the huge increase on unscrupulous solicitors wanting to cash in on the high fees they can pocket from these cases. With aggressive advertising aimed at historic
employment for people who worked in noisy environments in the 1960s, 70s and 80’s without the right protection.
The recent spike in claims may well be a result of claimant lawyers spotting the potential to earn sizeable fees from these cases, after earnings from whiplash
claims were reduced. The ABI said, claimant lawyers and claims management firms are intent on exploiting the new source of income which deafness claims
represent, irrespective of whether the claims they put forward are genuine.
Most claims are unsuccessful
Of the 200,000 claims submitted since 2012 less than a 40,000 have won compensation, according to ABI figures. The main reason most claims fail is an inability to provide solid evidence that the hearing loss is due to noise in the workplace.
Unfortunately a high failure rate is not a sufficent deterent for some lawyers. Excessive legal costs mean that, on average, for every £1 paid out in compensation £3 is paid in legal costs to the solicitors A huge number of unsuccessful compensation claims is creating a bottle neck for genuine claimants, who are now having to wait a lot longer for the compensation they deserve.
For a claim to stand a chance of being successful, claimants would need to be able to provide evidence of where they worked and the results of an audiology test proving their hearing loss is due to exposure to noise in the workplace. Claims must be submitted within three years of becoming aware of any hearing loss, due to working in a noisy environment
In order to reduce the problem the ABI is calling for fixed legal fees for noise induced hearing loss claims like there are for whiplash claims. This would act to reduce the number of solicitors encouraging people to make claims and also prevent them from running up excessive legal costs.