My union appointed a firm of solicitors to act on my behalf in an industrial injury claim against my former employer. I was employed by the same construction company for 44 years before being made redundant. I had a hearing test last year following referral by my local GP and was found to have noise induced hearing loss in both ears and was prescribed two hearing aids. I have since been to see an expert consultant in hearing at Newcastle and he informed my solicitors that the tests he had completed and the test taken at my local NHS hospital had marked differences and effectively my hearing had improved – he has since agreed with me that industrial deafness cannot improve and once the damage is done it is irreversible. He notes that I do show signs of industrial deafness and has now said that the marked difference in tests could be down to lack of concentration or tiredness on the day of the test. He has advised that because of the difference in tests he cannot support the case for industrial deafness as the defence solicitor/barristers will quote medical causation. As a result of this my solicitors now want to close the case. They have advised that I can appoint another solicitor to act for me but have now said I have only to the 29th December 2017 to request another solicitor. I had some symptoms of miss hearing things in 2015 but I was not diagnosed until April last year following an appointment with my GP. The hearing test at the hospital where I was given the hearing aids took place in or around May 2016 and fitting of the aids soon after. I have worked in a very noisy environment for the past 44 years and in enclosed spaces. Hearing protection was not readily available in the early years and it was not until much later in my working life that hearing defenders/ear plugs were readily available.

My questions are:

1. Would another solicitor even look at my case? – I have been told by my current solicitor that upon request they would release all the information compiled. I have kept copies of all correspondence between me and my solicitor. They say I have a right to appoint another solicitor to follow up a claim.

2. If another solicitor took on my claim would the fact that I have changed solicitors mid way through the case be detrimental to any outcome. Would we have to tell the defence solicitors/barrister why companies were changed?

I would welcome your advice as to how I proceed. I now have a hearing impairment which I believe is a result of my working environment for the past 44 years. I have not been told that this hearing impairment is age related but indeed noise induced hearing loss.

Ian Morris

I am sorry to read of the problems you have encountered during your claim for Industrial Injuries Compensation.

To answer your two points specifically, you can seek the services of a new Solicitor and should do so at the earliest opportunity. A new Solicitor will be able to obtain your file of papers from your existing Solicitor and can then review the contents of the same in order to form a view about the likely outcome of the claim going forward.

The fact that you may be ‘switching’ Solicitor during the claims process is not something that could be detrimental to the outcome of the claim and is not something you would have to be concerned about.

With regards to switching to a different Solicitor, I would strong suggest that you seek the services of an Industrial Deafness specialist given the little time remaining available.

Unfortunately, we are not able to take cases on with less than 6 months available.


Thank you for the information which is very helpful.

May I ask a further question as to timescales regarding claims.

My solicitor states that I have to appoint another solicitor before 29th December 2017 as that will then be three years. She states that from my symptoms I would have been aware that I had problems as far back as 2015, however I am unsure when the actual dates start for industrial deafness claims. Although I had some problems in 2015 and was mishearing things and turning the TV up a little bit louder I did not get a formal diagnosis of deafness and be fitted with hearing aids until mid 2016. My GP records indicate that I attended an appointment on 4th April 2016. If the 3 year timescales starts from that date then I would have until 3 April 2019 to bring a case. My solicitor has mentioned this date in her final letter to me but suggested going on the earlier date but I am confused as to which is now correct. Are you able to clarify?

Ian Morris

Your current Solicitor has given you that date for a reason, but from what you have said it sounds as if there could be an error and that your remaining available claim limitation period could be longer.

Without having full sight of your file of papers, it is difficult to advise fully but I would strongly suggest that you discuss the dates with your existing Solicitor in an effort to understand why they are giving you the 29th December as the date.

Although you didn’t present to your GP until April 2016, your Solicitor has given a view that you initially became aware – albeit without diagnosis – of some hearing issues as far back as 2015. Whilst the date of diagnosis is very important, the courts will also take in to account the symptoms and when you could have reasonably been expected to have began to become aware of the same.