The ability to clearly communicate with and respond to others is imperative for those considering a career in the British Army. This is why those found to be suffering from any of the following hearing disorders are not eligible to join:
- Existing ear drum perforation
- Chronic ear diseases (e.g. cholesteatoma)
- Presence of eardrum ‘grommets’
- Any other condition which causes the applicant to fail the hearing test during the full medical examination
Soldiers who suffer from these – or similar – hearing problems while in service are highly likely to be discharged.
According to the Deafness Research Foundation, more than two thirds (69%) of British troops returning from Afghanistan suffer from noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) conditions. The same source additionally states NIHL is the number one disability among US military personnel.
While some hearing impairments are blameless, it is often deemed The Army is at fault for NIHL conditions such as tinnitus and partial or complete deafness in its soldiers. Constant exposure to loud weaponry and (possible) explosions during combat can eventually damage the internal ear mechanisms beyond repair.
Those who serve to protect their country are entitled to a certain level of recompense from the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency (SPVA) for injuries sustained during their noble service (certain criteria need to be met). It is also possible for individuals to file an injury law claim against the Ministry of Defence itself, should the body be supposedly negligent in its duties to protect its troops.
The personal injury claims process for military hearing injury can be handled by a reputable lawyer company.
How much compensation can I receive for Army-related hearing loss?
There is no cemented figure awarded to those eligible for NIHL compensation, since the circumstances of individual cases – and the extent of the aural injuries sustained – can vary greatly.
Successful occupational deafness claims however, can typically see compensation between £4,850 and £30,000 awarded.
Potential problems with NIHL compensation claims
In February this year, The Mirror published a story about one ex-soldier – 27 year old Jamie Geary – who was unsuccessful in his claim for occupational injury compensation. Geary’s hearing ability declined by 6% as a result of his 11-year army career.
While this decline was enough to see Geary discharged from service, the claim-rejection letter he received stated at least a 20% loss was required for him to be awarded any NIHL compensation.
The SPVA can attribute a certain level of injury anywhere on its soldiers’ bodies to be ‘attributable to service’ (i.e. the injury is typical among those who decide to embark on military careers, and will not worsen should exposure to high decibel levels cease). This was the justification included within Geary’s claim rejection letter.
The ex-soldier was forced to claim government benefits to survive, after unsuccessfully attempting to keep his place in the TA after several mortar attacks in 2007 – the cause of his reduced sense of hearing. At the time the story was published, Geary was appealing against the SPVA’s decision not to compensate him.
The circumstances of individual Army NIHL compensation claims are unique, and so those who consider themselves eligible for monetary recompense should not be deterred from investigating their possible entitlement. If you are a current or ex-Army employee seeking further advice regarding the viability of a hearing loss claim, please do not hesitate to contact an expert solicitor.