Through analysis of the medical evidence on which claimants rely, and the retention of data on the solicitors who represent them (and the audiologists and experts who prepare the medical reports on which they rely), insurers and their solicitors can challenge claims at an early stage, enabling a significant proportion to be defeated.
With the availability of records including historic noise surveys, occupational health records and other documents such as memos on the issuing and use of hearing protection, claims can be defeated on the basis that employees were not exposed to excessive noise, even where employment with other businesses has caused noise induced hearing loss.
Whilst the receipt of a claim for noise induced hearing loss may be a nuisance, and there is often a temptation to settle the claim through paying a limited sum (although the costs payable will often increase the total sum paid significantly), we must bear in mind the fact that the claims management companies and solicitors pursuing claims will often target their marketing at potential claims against 'soft touch' employers which have paid claims in the past.
The retention of documents including noise surveys, risk assessments, records of the provision of PPE and enforcement of its use, minutes of meetings at which noise levels were discussed, training, personnel and occupational health records, can prove vital in defending claims which, without the records, would otherwise be paid.
Whilst the TUC and Association of Personal Injury Lawyers assert that there is no compensation culture, instead it being a myth of perception (The Compensation Myth, March 2014), the behaviour of claimants' solicitors and their clients in the pursuit of claims for noise induced hearing loss supports the view that the claims culture exists, a belief reinforced by the fining of The Hearing Clinic for speculative cold calling. However, through the careful retention of evidence, employers should be well placed to defend and defeat these claims.