Hearing & Vision Loss
Losing your sense of vision or hearing is a permanent, life-altering event. Not only can hearing and vision loss make it difficult or impossible to perform many jobs, but in addition, these injuries can be very costly to treat. However, if your hearing loss or vision loss was related to your job, workers’ compensation benefits can help to pay for your medical care, the earnings you have lost, and other financial losses you have sustained due to work-related blindness or deafness.
If you lost your eyesight or hearing at work in Charlotte, you are likely covered under North Carolina’s workers’ compensation laws, and should discuss your legal options for getting benefits with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.
At the Ramsay Law Firm, our Charlotte workers’ comp attorneys bring more than 25 years of experience to each claim we handle. We know the laws inside and out, and understand exactly what it takes to maximize each client’s recovery.
For a free legal consultation with Board Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist Martha Ramsay, founding attorney of the Ramsay Law Firm, call our law offices at (704) 376-1616. We will keep your information confidential.
How Much Workers’ Compensation Can You Get for Vision or Hearing Loss in NC?
Most work injury claims are treated in the same manner under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act. However, employment-related hearing loss is subject to a unique set of workers’ compensation laws. These laws are set forth under G.S. § 97-53, which pertains to occupational diseases and chemical exposure.
Under G.S. § 97-53(28)(d), “An employer shall become liable for the entire occupational hearing loss to which his [or her] employment has contributed.” However, the statute goes on to provide that, if a hearing test shows that the employee was partially deaf before the work accident, the employer will not be liable for covering prior hearing loss. The employer will only be responsible for providing coverage “for the difference between the percent of occupational hearing loss determined as of the date of disability… and the percentage of loss established by the [medical] examination.”
Under G.S. § 97-53(28)(h), benefits may be awarded for up to 150 weeks, which is slightly less than three years, if the worker suffers total hearing loss in both ears. If the worker loses hearing in only one ear, certain criteria must be met in order to qualify for benefits. For example, benefits may be available if the worker was previously deaf in one ear because of a traumatic injury.
It is important to note that, under G.S. § 97-53(28)(j), “No compensation benefits shall be payable for the loss of hearing caused by harmful noise… if employee fails to regularly utilize employer-provided protection device or devices, capable of preventing loss of hearing from the particular harmful noise where the employee works.” In other words, you will not qualify for benefits if you failed to consistently use effective earplugs or effective earmuffs that were provided by your employer.
Eye injuries and vision loss are also subject to specific guidelines under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act. Several scenarios are covered by G.S. § 97-31, which sets forth rates of compensation for various work injuries. For example, under G.S. § 97-31(16), benefits can be paid for 120 weeks, which is slightly over two years, for the loss of one eye.
However, if the loss of hearing or vision causes the worker to lose his or her job and forces a reduction in earnings, the worker could be entitled to benefits for lost wages for a period of up to 500 weeks, which is roughly equivalent to nine and a half years. If the employee loses both eyes, it will be considered “total and permanent disability” under G.S. § 97-31(17), which means the employee may receive benefits for the rest of his or her life.
Regardless of whether a worker suffers an ear injury, an eye injury, or any other type of injury, benefits are generally capped at 66.66% of the workers’ weekly pre-injury wage, subject to a maximum limit of $978 per week. For example, if you were earning $600 per week before you lost your vision or hearing, you could receive a maximum award of approximately $400 per week.
Charlotte Workplace Ear and Eye Injury Lawyers for Hearing and Vision Loss Claims
Unfortunately, workers who were deafened or blinded often encounter legal obstacles when trying to secure benefits – even if they are eligible for compensation under state laws. Even if you qualify, your employer or their insurance carrier could improperly deny your claim or misdiagnose your injury, causing you to receive less compensation than you deserve.
Later in the process, workers can encounter problems when their employers try to reduce, suspend, or terminate their benefits. In some cases, employers simply fail to carry workers’ compensation insurance, despite requirements to provide coverage for employees.
If you need assistance filing a claim for workers’ compensation, appealing a claim that was denied, or challenging your employer’s attempts to cut off your benefits, the workplace hearing and vision loss attorneys of the Ramsay Law Firm can help.
We handle a wide range of workplace accidents and injuries involving vision loss and hearing loss, which can be caused by slip and fall accidents, falls from heights, work-related auto accidents, electric shocks, burn injuries, strikes by falling objects, exposure to chemicals or radiation, facial injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and other causes. If you became blind or deaf after an accident at work in Charlotte, we can fight to uphold your rights and secure financial compensation.
For a free legal consultation about filing a workers’ compensation claim, appealing a denied claim, or restoring benefits that were suspended or terminated, call the Ramsay Law Firm at (704) 376-1616. We serve disabled workers in all types of industries throughout the Charlotte metro area.