Am I entitled to any compensation for hearing loss?

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Am I entitled to any compensation for hearing loss?

About 2 months ago, I was working at retail chain building bicycles. As I was inflating a kids bike tire, the tube must have pinched and the tire popped causing me to lose some hearing in my right ear. I was unaware that this kind of thing could happen as it was not mentioned at all in the training I received. I reported the incident and the company that handles claims for the company has paid the medical bill for the 2 doctor visits that I had. The specialist said both ears are still hearing in the normal range but the right is slightly weaker at certain frequencies. The doctors said there is nothing else that they can do right now except have another hearing exam in 6 months. They said that the hearing discrepancy and pressure/fullness experienced in my right ear could go away with time but is likely to be permanent. I am guessing the answer is no but since I may need hearing aids sooner than the average person, am I entitled to any compensation beyond getting my medical bills paid for?

Asked on September 16, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If you are receiving worker's compensation, then worker's compensation is all you get. That is the trade-off the legislature set up when it created Worker's Compensation: you get the money without having to sue, and without having to prove fault, but Worker's Compensation is all you get--you cannot sue for or get anything beyond it.
If you are not receiving worker's compensation, you could in theory sue for the hearing loss--but to win, you would have to prove that the employer was at fault in causing the accident. The fact that you were not warned of this is likely not enough to prove fault, since a specific warning that tires could pop is something a court could conclude you don't need--it is fairly obvious that the could pop. And even if warning were required, you'd have to prove that had you been warned, you would have done something differently and the tire would not have popped--since if it would have popped anyway, there is no fault on the employer. It may therefore be very difficult to prove fault and receive compensation.


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