Industrial deafness claim amounts (Vic)?
Table of Contents
What does industrial deafness mean?
Industrial deafness is any condition of deafness caused by regular exposure to noise in the workplace. It can also be caused by one particular noise exposure which results in some loss of hearing.
Can I lodge a WorkCover claim for industrial deafness?
Yes, you are able to lodge a WorkCover claim Victoria if you have suffered some damage to your hearing during the course of your employment.
What will WorkCover pay for?
Payment for medical and like expenses
The WorkCover insurer can pay you for any medical expenses related to your hearing loss condition.
The most common thing claimed by way of medical and like expenses in matters that involve hearing loss is for acoustic testing and for the provision of hearing aids.
You are also entitled to pursue an impairment benefit claim.
This is a lump sum claim where you would be assessed by an independent medical examiner.
This medical examiner would be organised by the WorkCover insurer.
The independent medical examiner would put a percentage figure on your loss of hearing.
That percentage figure would then line up with a compensation amount.
For industrial deafness claim amounts in Victoria, please refer to this table:
As an example, say that you attended an independent medical examiner in relation to an impairment benefits claim and you were assessed as having a whole person impairment rating of 25% relating to your hearing loss.
Using the table below, you can see that the 2020/21 compensation amount related to 25% is $70,160.
This is the amount that you would be paid under this claim if you elected to accept the initial assessment from the independent medical examiner.
Keep in mind that the percentage figure that the doctor gives you does not mean you are x% impaired. So using the above example of 25%, that wouldn’t mean you’ve got 25% hearing loss out of 100%.
The doctors are simply grading your hearing loss based on guidelines set out in a special book called the American Medical Association’s guides to permanent impairment.
This book provides guidelines for doctors, that enable them to grade injuries and conditions in legal matters.
Lump sums paid under an impairment benefit claim is classed as a pain and suffering payment and is therefore not subject to tax.
If you disagree with the assessment completed by the independent medical examiner, you have the ability to appeal to whats called the medical panel.
The medical panel would involve you being assessed by a panel of doctors (in this case 2 to 3) in the one sitting.
These doctors would assess your hearing loss and, as the independent medical examiner did, put a percentage figure on your hearing loss.
And, this hearing loss figure, would match up to a compensation amount on the table above.
If you are not happy with the assessment completed by the medical panel in some cases you can appeal the medical panel‘s decision although it can be very difficult sometimes to do so.
It is important to note that you cannot just appeal a medical panel decision because you don’t agree with it. There needs to be a specific reason that gives rise to an appeal.
Examples might be;
Jurisdictional error – which is for example that the medical panel might have ignored a relevant consideration or relied on irrelevant material.
Procedural fairness – for example if the medical panel was provided of surveillance footage of you but that you were not advised of this and you did not have the I need to address it.
Unreasonableness – this could be the decision made by the medical panel was so unreasonable that it wasn’t supported by logic.
Inadequacy of reasons – the medical panel is required to provide adequate reasons that indicate how they reached a particular conclusion and if they fail to do this that may be grounds for appeal.
What if I’ve worked for a number of employers over the years – who do I list on the claim form?
The law says in this instance that the relevant employer for the purposes of your hearing loss claim in Victoria is the most recent employer that you were employed by where there was damaging noise.
Who pays any compensation that I’m entitled to?
If you are successful in a WorkCover industrial hearing loss claim, then it will be up to the WorkCover insurer to pay you any medical and like expenses (which includes the cost of any hearing aids) as payment for any impairment benefit lump sum as described above.
It is important to keep in mind that your employer will not have to pay any of these costs.
How long will industrial deafness claim take?
Industrial deafness claims are generally pretty quickly resolved.
In relation to the initial WorkCover claim relating to your hearing loss, which is required to be lodged to obtain payment for medical and like expenses (which includes hearing aids), the WorkCover insurer has 28 days to make a decision in relation of his claim.
In relation to the impairment benefit claim, which is the lump sum claim for permanent hearing loss impairment, generally speaking these resolve within about 2 to 4 months from the time the claim is lodged.
The quicker that an appointment can be arranged for you to attend the independent medical examiner, the quicker your matter will be resolved.
What if I have previously had an impairment claim for industrial hearing loss?
It is possible to lodge another impairment claim if you can prove that you have suffered further hearing loss since your previous impairment claim was finalised.
Obviously this is a medical question and you would need the support of a doctor in relation to this further claim.
What is the law that covers hearing loss claims in Victoria?
The two relevant pieces of legislation that cover this area are;
- Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation act
- Accident Compensation act
On the impairment claim and initial claim form, what do I list as the date of injury?
If you are completing the claim form yourself, this is a question that you will no doubt wonder.
The answer is that you need to list the last day on which you were performing your work and during which you were exposed to loud noises.
Answering this can be a bit difficult for people. But don’t worry too much about this, and don’t try to over explain things as you will have the opportunity to expand on things as your claim progresses.
What if my claim is rejected?
If either your initial WorkCover claim or your claim for impairment benefits is rejected, and if you believe there is merit in proceeding further with it, you can appeal the decision to conciliation.
Conciliation is a process whereby you and your representative, if you have one, attempt to resolve the matter with a representative from the insurance company.
The conciliation is chaired by a conciliator from the Accident Compensation Conciliation Service (ACCS).
If your matter doesn’t resolve at conciliation then you can proceed to either the medical panel or the magistrates court to have the matter determined there.