The eardrum, or tympanic membrane, is a thin layer of tissue which separates the middle and outer ear. An eardrum perforation can be caused by a blow to the ear, a sudden loud noise or even a loud explosion, resulting in a burst ear drum. Although this usually heals on its own within a few weeks or months, it is possible to experience complications that could require surgery, or even lead to permanent hearing damage. If you have suffered a perforated ear drum at work then claiming burst ear drum compensation could be on the cards, as it is your employer’s responsibility to ensure you are safe at work.
How serious is a burst ear drum?
The good news is that a burst ear drum is usually not too serous an injury, although you can suffer from some pretty nasty symptoms including:
- Ear discharge
- High temperature
- Temporary hearing loss
- Tinnitus (which can be temporary or permanent but usually resolves in a few weeks)
If you work in a loud environment, for example in a factory or on a construction site, then you are more at risk of suffering a burst ear drum, and you need to take precautions.
What are your employer’s responsibilities?
If you work in a loud environment then it’s your employer’s responsibility to provide you with personal protective equipment such as ear protectors or ear plugs, and failure to do so could lead to burst ear drum compensation. It may be that you have suffered a burst ear drum after a blow to the head caused by objects falling from height – for example if you were walking under scaffolding on a building site and you have been hit by falling tools – but your employer should take precautions to prevent accidents like this from happening.
If your employer has failed to meet their responsibilities or breached health and safety regulations then you could make a claim for personal injury compensation after your accident. The HSE estimated that 20,000 people suffered noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) in the UK between 2013 and 2016; that’s 62 cases per 100,000 workers. If this has happened to you then you don’t need to suffer in silence.
How long does a burst ear drum take to heal?
The good news is that your burst ear drum will usually heal nicely by itself in a few weeks, although you do need to keep your ear clean and dry. Most people can continue working during this time, and if you’re in pain you can take over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen and paracetamol. If you’ve suffered from a serious infection or perforation then you may need to undergo myringoplasty surgery under general anaesthetic. This could mean taking at least a couple of weeks off work, and any loss of income would be considered in a burst ear drum compensation claim. There can be some rather nasty complications associated with the surgery, including:
- Facial paralysis
- Permanent tinnitus
- Changes in taste
It can also (rarely) lead to permanent hearing loss. Sometimes you can see your GP for an infected burst eardrum, as you may need oral antibiotics or antibiotic ear drops – it’s important to get these on prescription rather than buying them yourself, as some ear drops can damage the ear’s nerve supply.
Am I likely to suffer from tinnitus after a burst eardrum?
Many people do suffer from temporary tinnitus after bursting their ear drum, but this usually resolves itself after a few weeks, although it can in some cases be permanent. Around one in 10 adults in the UK suffers from tinnitus, which causes a buzzing, ringing or hissing sound in the ears. In 2015, an estimated 32,000 new cases were diagnosed.
Claiming burst ear drum compensation
The UK’s ‘compensation culture’ has been blamed for a rise in the number of noise-induced hearing loss claims over the last few years, but if your hearing has been affected by a burst ear drum, don’t let that put you off claiming. In 2015, the Association of British Insurers called for tighter rules for workers claiming compensation for noise-induced hearing loss, because the number of claims has almost trebled since 2012. But not everybody who makes a claim for hearing problems or hearing loss linked to a burst eardrum will be successful in receiving compensation for their injuries. In fact, since 2012 over 20,000 claims for noise-induced hearing loss have been submitted, but less than 20% of these have been successful. This is usually due to a lack of evidence, and if you decide to claim burst ear drum compensation, you will need to prove that your injury was caused by your employer.
Proving employer negligence
If you have suffered a burst ear drum at work then you’ll need evidence to prove that your employer was responsible for your injury in order to claim for burst ear drum compensation. For example, perhaps you work on a construction site using loud machinery, and your employer didn’t provide you with ear protection. Maybe you work in a factory and the ear protection you were provided with was inadequate, or perhaps dangerous chemicals caused a loud explosion on the farm you were working on which has perforated your ear drum.
Whatever has happened, you can gather evidence in support of your claim, such as a medical report from your doctor, any witness statements (for example, from colleagues) and receipts relating to any expenses you have incurred as a result of your injuries. Accident Advice Helpline has over 16 years’ experience handling personal injury claims and we will be able to gather evidence in support of your claim if you decide to make a 100% no-win, no-fee claim with us.
Contact us to find out more
To see if you could make a burst ear drum compensation claim, or to find out more about what’s involved in making a personal injury claim after an accident at work, just call Accident Advice Helpline on 0800 689 0500 (or 0333 500 0993 from a mobile) to speak to our expert advisors. We offer confidential advice and there is no obligation to go ahead with a claim, so you have nothing to lose by getting in touch with us.
Date Published: September 29, 2015
Author: Paula Beaton