Military personnel can often be exposed to loud noises, explosions, gunfire, and other high-intensity sounds that can lead to hearing loss. The UK Armed Forces have a duty to protect their personnel and provide adequate safety equipment to reduce the risk of hearing damage.
If you have suffered hearing loss as a result of your military service, you may be able to make a military hearing loss claim. This can include compensation for pain and suffering, loss of earnings, and the cost of any treatment or rehabilitation you require.
If you believe you have a valid claim, it is recommended that you seek legal advice as soon as possible to ensure that you have the best chance of success. Your solicitor will be able to guide you through the claims process and help you to secure the compensation you deserve. They will do this on a 100% No Win No Fee basis, meaning you have no financial risk if your case fails.
Can I start a military hearing loss claim?
Military personnel are employees of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and are entitled to all reasonable measures to be protected from hearing loss at work. The MoD must adhere to the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 and other relevant legislation to protect you from a level of noise that could damage your hearing. Failing to do so could make them liable for military hearing loss compensation.
The most straightforward way to find out if you have a valid claim is through a free consultation with a legal adviser. They will ask you a few questions to determine whether your employer has breached their duty of care towards you and how your injury has affected your life.
If it can be established that reasonable steps were not in place to protect you at work and this has caused you to suffer damages such as pain, suffering and financial losses, you are likely eligible to claim for hearing loss.
You should keep in mind that there are strict time limits to begin an army hearing loss claim. Under civil law, the time limit is three years from the date of injury or the date of knowledge. If you want to pursue compensation through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme, the time limit to start legal proceedings is seven years.
How to claim military hearing loss compensation
If you believe you have suffered military hearing loss, you may be able to claim compensation. The process of making a military hearing loss claim can vary depending on your specific circumstances but generally includes the following steps:
Seek medical attention
If you have not already done so, it is essential to seek medical attention for your hearing loss. Your medical records will document any hearing tests, such as audiograms you have had, as well as any treatment you have received for hearing loss and will serve as essential evidence in your claim.
Contact a solicitor
If you believe your hearing loss was due to negligence, you should seek the advice of a solicitor who has experience handling military deafness claims as early as possible. They can advise you on the strength of your case and the evidence you will need to support it.
You will need relevant evidence to support your military hearing loss claim, which may include:
- Medical records
- Evidence of exposure to loud noises or explosions during military service
- Whether you have been provided with hearing protection
- Statements from colleagues who witnessed or also experienced exposure to loud noises
- The training and instructions you received to carry out your tasks
You may also need the expert testimony of a hearing specialist or audiologist who can assess the extent of your hearing loss and that it was due to your military service. Your solicitor will be able to arrange a free visit with an independent specialist on your behalf.
Submit a claim
Once you have gathered all the necessary evidence, your solicitor can help you submit a claim for military hearing loss. That will typically involve providing details of your military service, the nature and extent of your hearing damage, and any evidence you have gathered to support your claim.
Wait for a response
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) will investigate your claim and may request additional information or evidence. It is essential to be patient during this process, as it can take several months or even years to resolve.
Negotiate a settlement
If your claim is successful, your solicitor will negotiate a settlement on your behalf. The amount of military hearing loss compensation you receive will depend on the extent of your hearing damage and the impact it has had on your life. If the MoD does not accept blame, court proceedings will begin, which does not mean that your claim will necessarily go to trial. Instead, it means the court will set strict timetables for the exchange of documents and negotiations between the two parties. You will only go to court if all negotiations fail before the established trial date.
It is important to note that making an army hearing loss claim can be complex and time-consuming. Working with an experienced solicitor can help ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Furthermore, they will offer you support and advice throughout the claims process and will handle all the legal aspects of your claim while you can focus on your health and loved ones.
The Law Concerning the Military of Defence
All military personnel are employees of the Ministry of Defence and are entitled to proper safety measures to prevent hearing damage at work. The main legislation that imposes a duty of care on the MoD to prevent hearing loss is The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005. It applies to all industries and workplaces in the UK, including the military.
The duties and responsibilities imposed by the UK legislation to prevent military hearing loss include:
- Conduct regular risk assessments to identify the sources of noise and the risks they cause. This should be done using noise monitoring equipment to measure the noise levels and determine the likely exposure.
- Take action to reduce the noise exposure of their employees by implementing engineering and administrative controls. This can include using quieter equipment, isolating noisy machinery, and giving adequate breaks away from the noisy environment.
- Provide employees with information and training on the risks associated with exposure to noise, the control measures in place, and the proper use of hearing protection.
- Ensure noise volumes do not regularly exceed 87dB or peak levels of 140dB.
- Provide suitable hearing protection free of charge where noise exposure cannot be adequately reduced by other means, and make sure the protective equipment is properly maintained.
- Identify and signpost areas where hearing protection is needed.
- Make health surveillance available to employees exposed to noise levels above certain limits. That can include regular hearing tests to monitor their employees’ hearing and detect any early signs of hearing loss.
If you believe your employer has failed to take any of these measures and this has damaged your hearing, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. Call 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation with a legal adviser to find out whether you have a valid military hearing loss claim and what steps you should take to secure compensation.
What is the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS)?
The AFCS is a compensation scheme that operates on a no-fault basis and offers financial compensation to current and former members of the UK Armed Forces who have experienced an injury or illness due to service on or after 6 April 2005.
The scheme is designed to provide compensation to those who have suffered an injury or illness that is attributable to their service, regardless of whether or not negligence or fault can be established. The AFCS is administered by Veterans UK, which is part of the Ministry of Defence. Reservists can also file for compensation under this scheme.
You could also be entitled to make a military deafness claim if you suffered from a hearing condition before joining the service and you feel that this made it worse. Claiming compensation through the AFCS does not affect your right to pursue a civil case and claim compensation for negligence from the Ministry of Defence.
The time limit to claim for hearing loss through the AFCS is seven years from the date of your injury or diagnosis. The types of compensation that the AFCS offers include:
- A lump-sum compensation for pain, suffering, and any ongoing disability caused by the injury or illness. This will depend on the severity of your condition, and the sum awarded to you will be entirely tax-free.
- Guaranteed Income Payments (GIPs) for life for those whose injuries or illnesses leave them with a severe, long-term disability and inability to work.
A personal injury solicitor could assist you with gathering the necessary evidence to claim military injury compensation through the AFCS. You can enter your details in our online claim form to receive a call back and discuss the specifics of your case with a friendly legal adviser.
What are the symptoms of military hearing loss?
Military hearing loss can be due to exposure to loud noises and explosions during military training and combat operations. It can also be caused by exposure to other loud noises, such as machinery, aircraft engines, guns and artillery fire. Additionally, exposure to chemicals and certain medications could also damage your hearing.
The symptoms of military hearing loss can vary from person to person and depend on the severity and type of hearing loss. However, some common symptoms include the following:
- Struggling to hear speech clearly, especially in noisy environments
- Ringing or buzzing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Trouble understanding somebody speaking on the phone
- Mishearing words in a conversation
- Needing the volume of the TV or radio turned up higher than before
- Feeling like others are mumbling or not speaking clearly
- Difficulty hearing certain sounds or frequencies, such as high-pitched tones
- Feeling tired or mentally drained from straining to hear
Military hearing loss can have a range of consequences that can impact your quality of life. These may include:
- Communication difficulties: Hearing loss can make it difficult to understand conversations, both in person and over the phone. That can lead to social isolation and problems with personal and professional relationships.
- Tinnitus: Many people with hearing loss also experience tinnitus, which is a ringing, buzzing, or hissing sound in the ears. Tinnitus can be very distressing and affect sleep, concentration, and mood.
- Cognitive decline: Some studies have suggested that hearing loss may be linked to cognitive decline, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Depression and anxiety: Hearing loss can be a source of stress and anxiety, particularly if it affects a person’s ability to work or engage in social activities.
- Safety risks: Hearing loss can make it harder to hear alarms, warning signals, and other sounds that are important for safety, particularly in military environments.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is essential to speak to a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment. If there is proof that your hearing damage was due to serving in the military and no safety precautions were in place, you might be eligible to make an army hearing loss claim.
Common causes leading to an army hearing loss claim
Hearing damage and loss can be caused by a single loud sound, such as a gunshot or explosion, or by long-term exposure to high-volume sounds like vehicle engines, aircraft or military bands. This can significantly impact your quality of life and lead to psychological issues and financial losses.
Military personnel are employees of the Ministry of Defence and are entitled to adequate safety measures to prevent hearing loss at work. A breach of duty on the part of the MoD could lead to a valid military hearing loss claim. Some examples of claims include:
- Lack of adequate and sufficient hearing protection
- Hearing loss caused by the negligent discharge of weapons and artillery
- Exposure to excessive noise during training or exercise without proper instruction
- Incorrect diagnosis or medical grading of personnel with military hearing loss
- Delays in identifying or diagnosis hearing damage, resulting in further damage
- Lack of adequate breaks away from the noisy environment
- Failure to signpost areas where hearing protection is needed
These and other causes may lead to military hearing loss and a subsequent compensation claim. If you feel you are entitled to damages for the pain, suffering and financial losses caused by your condition, call 0800 678 1410 or request a call back to discuss your case with a friendly legal adviser.
What is the time limit to start a claim for hearing loss?
In the UK, the time limit to start a military deafness claim can vary depending on the circumstances and the type of claim:
- For claims under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS), there is a time limit of seven years starting from either:
- The date of the accident causing your hearing damage
- The date on which a pre-existing condition was made worse by the military service
- The date you first sought medical advice regarding your hearing loss
- The date you were discharged from service
- If you have suffered from hearing loss due to a violent crime while serving overseas, you may be eligible to claim under the Criminal Injuries Compensation (Overseas) Scheme. The scheme allows you to start a claim within two years of the incident.
- For civil claims, the general time limit is three years from the date of the injury or the date of knowledge that the damage was due to military service. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, and it is essential to seek legal advice to determine the specific time limit that applies to your situation.
Regardless of what limitation time might apply to your situation, starting the claims process as soon as possible is recommended, as gathering evidence and building a strong case can take time. Starting your claim early on can also give you access to private care and treatments that are not always available through the NHS and will ensure you receive the compensation owed to you as early as possible.
How much is my military deafness claim worth?
Estimating the exact value of your military hearing loss claim from the outset is difficult. It depends on several factors, such as the severity of your hearing loss, age, and the impact on your daily life and ability to work.
When calculating your compensation award, your solicitor will take several things into account, such as:
- The physical pain and suffering caused by the injury
- The emotional and psychological trauma you endured
- Your age, rank and specialism
- Any medical devices you may need, such as hearing aids
- Your present and future care and support needs
- Modifications to your home
- Loss of your service earnings due to delayed promotion and medical discharge
- Loss of pension contributions
- Loss of service benefits, specialist pay and allowances
The settlement you are entitled to will be paid by the Ministry of Defence out of a specific budget set aside for these types of personal injury claims. Your unit’s budget and the budget for equipment and other resources will not be affected by your claim.
According to the guidelines published by the Judicial College, you could get the following settlements in an army hearing loss claim:
- Up to £5,590 for minor deafness and tinnitus
- £6,910 to £13,970 for mild tinnitus or deafness
- £13,970 to £27,890 for moderate tinnitus and hearing loss
- £27,890 to £42,730 for a total loss of hearing in one ear
- £85,170 to £102,890 for complete loss of hearing in both ears
- £102,890 to £132,040 for total deafness and loss of speech
The AFCS has its own Tariff Table for injuries, with compensation awards ranging from £1,236 for mild injuries to £650,000 for the most severe traumas. The tariff sets out different compensation levels for different types and degrees of hearing loss, ranging from minor hearing loss to total deafness and loss of speech. The compensation amounts awarded by the AFCS intend to provide financial support to service personnel who have suffered due to their service and to help them cope with the long-term consequences of those injuries.
Can I claim military hearing loss compensation on a No Win No Fee basis?
If your case has merit, it is possible to claim military hearing loss compensation on a No Win No Fee basis. That means you will not have to pay any upfront costs or fees to your solicitor, and if your claim is unsuccessful, you do not have to pay them at all.
Due to the After the Event (ATE) insurance policy that your solicitor will secure on your behalf from the beginning, you will not be liable for legal costs either. If your case fails, the ATE insurance will cover all your costs and disbursements, such as:
- The defendant’s solicitor fees
- The cost of medical reports and expert witness fees
- Court and counsel fees
- The cost of printing and copying
- Travel expenses related to the claims process
- Barrister fees, if your claim goes to court
If you win the military hearing loss claim, the defendant will cover most of your legal costs, and you will keep the compensation awarded minus the following deductions:
- The cost of the ATE insurance policy;
- The success fee paid to your solicitor for the risk they took by offering you a No Win No Fee agreement. The success fee cannot exceed 25% of your settlement and is agreed upon from the beginning.
To start a military deafness claim or learn more about the claims process, call 0800 678 1410 today to speak with a legal adviser. Or, if you prefer, you can fill in our online claim form to receive a call back with no obligation to start legal proceedings.