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Age-associated hearing loss – a thing of the past?

8 November 2012

How much of a claimants hearing loss is noise induced and how much due to the natural ageing process, particularly where, as here, the claimant is aged 73 and a significant age-associated loss is to be expected? The judgment in Cunningham calls into question the point of bothering to try to do so at all.

In this case two of the three defendants admitted breach of duty and disputed causation, the medical evidence indicating the claimant was expected to have an average loss of 23db at his age. His actual bilateral hearing loss at the 1,2&3khz speech frequencies was 24.3db, a potential noise induced loss of only 1.3db and surely too insignificant to be actionable.

Despite this, the court determined the audiometric pattern was consistent with a noise induced pattern and there was evidence of noise damage, awarding damages.

It seems the court took no account of an ageing component at all, though it indicated the claimant’s hearing loss would continue to deteriorate through ageing.

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