There has been a surge in noise induced hearing loss (industrial deafness) claims over the last 12-18 months. These claims can relate to periods a very long time ago, and evidence to fight claims may be unavailable, but all is not lost.
Many manufacturers will have noticed a significant upsurge in what used to be called industrial deafness claims (now described as noise induced hearing loss claims) over the last 12-18 months. It is no coincidence that this has happened at the same time as the Government clamp down on motor accident claims.
In a nutshell, those law firms chasing road traffic injury claims have had their fees drastically reduced. Some have moved into the market of actively marketing noise induced hearing loss claims nationwide.
The result can produce some very old claims, often going back to the 70’s, 80’s and even in some cases the 60’s. This obviously means that claims are difficult – if not impossible – to investigate. Evidence will have long since been destroyed. Witnesses will have disappeared or even died. Companies will have been bought or disposed of, quite possibly only in part. That could lead to major problems identifying who now carries the liability. It may even be that the insurer at the time cannot be identified, or has itself gone out of business.
Does that mean that all is lost and nothing can be done to see off unmeritorious claims? Not necessarily. It may seem tempting to just pay these claims, as quite often the claims are not very large. However, recent court decisions show an increasing willingness by courts to strike out some of these claims on the basis that they are brought too late, under the Limitation Act. To make best use of this potential defence, it is necessary to carry out a thorough review of medical records in particular to see when the first mention of hearing problems was made to the GP or hospital, and what was said about any relationship with the patient’s work.
If these claims are a problem for your business, our insurance lawyers can advise you on whether they can be fought.