De Minimis Injury - In Industrial Deafness Claims

11 January 2018


Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) &/or Tinnitus can occur as a result of excessive exposure to noise over a prolonged period. However, some Defendants challenge that low noise induced hearing loss of a few decibels does not materially affect a person’s hearing and therefore they should not be able to claim compensation.

‘Appreciably worse off’

1. Does the person suffer from hearing loss caused by noise?

2. Is the person ‘appreciably worse off’ due to the noise exposure?

Each case depends on the facts in the case and each person is affected differently. So the matter is subjective. However, from recent case law and decision by the Courts, it is clear that when the medical evidence is being considered it must be reviewed as a whole and the fact that an ENT Expert has advised the person to wear hearing aids years earlier than otherwise required should quite rightly be seen as leaving an injured person “appreciably worse off”. In the case of Briggs v RHM Frozen Foods Limited, the Court considered that one of the difficulties that the claimant had was that the the need for hearing aids was sooner than when they would be required and therefore the claimant “appreciably worse off.”

Childs v Brass & Alloy Pressings Limited

In another case Childs v Brass & Alloy Pressings Limited, the person in this case had suffered 2 decibels of loss and therefore the Defendants argued that the magnitude of only a few decibels did not materially affect the claimant. The Court rejected the Defendants argument of de minimis and when the conditions as aforementioned were applied, the Court ruled in favour of the Claimant that he was appreciably worse off due to the noise exposure. The Claimant required hearing aids earlier than when he would otherwise need them and had it not been due to the noise he was exposed to by the Defendant he would not have damaged his hearing. The Court awarded the Claimant £4,000 and a further £750.00 for hearing aids.

Contact us

For further information, contact our team of specialist solicitors at Curtis Law Solicitors to find out if you have suffered from hearing loss caused by noise. We will advise you so that you are compensated fairly for noise damage, it is only what you deserve!