Exposure to excessive noise at work (or elsewhere) can cause noise induced hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). If you have been exposed to excessive noise in more than one employment, then all of that exposure will contribute to the hearing loss and tinnitus symptoms suffered.
Often, someone making a hearing loss claim will have been exposed to excessive noise at a number of employers. If those circumstances apply to you, it will be necessary to work out what proportion of your claim each defendant is responsible for. This is known asapportionment of the claim.
In a hearing loss claim, apportionment is calculated on a “time served” basis by referring to how long you were exposed to excessive noise at each employer. Varying levels of noise are not necessarily taken into account. All noise exposure above safe limits is treated equally for the purposes of an apportionment calculation in most cases.
By way of example, if you were exposed to excessive noise at Company A for nine years and at Company B for three years, you will have been exposed for 12 years in total. Company A would have to pay 75% of your compensation and Company B 25%.
If you pursue a claim for compensation for noise induced hearing loss or tinnitus, your solicitor will usually prepare an apportionment schedule fairly early on in your claim. This will be calculated by referring to your employment history, which your solicitor will receive confirmation of from HMRC.
During the course of the claim it may be necessary for your solicitor to revise the apportionment calculation at various stages. This may happen, for example if it becomes apparent that an employer included in the initial calculation did not in fact expose you to harmful noise levels. That employer would then be removed from the calculation.
As a claim progresses towards settlement, the defendants may also prepare their own apportionment calculation. This may be more accurate than your solicitor’s calculation, as defendants may have access to employment records confirming your exact date of employment with each employer.
The apportionment calculation will also take into account untraced defendants or periods of employment for which insurance cannot be traced. Your solicitors will attempt to trace all of the companies where you were exposed to excessive noise, and all of their insurers. Sometimes however, due to the passage of time, it may not be possible to trace every defendant or insurer, if the company is no longer trading.
In these circumstances untraced defendants still need to be included in the apportionment calculation, but you will not receive compensation for any untraced periods of noise exposure.
For example, if you were exposed to noise for ten years in total, and an employer who employed you for one year could not be traced, you would not receive compensation for their 10%. In those circumstances you would receive 90% of the value of your claim from the Defendants who had been traced.
Your solicitor will be able to advise you if it has not been possible to trace all of the defendants in your claim and if not the overall percentage of the value of your claim you will receive.