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Limitation - defending NIHL claims

As insurers continue to face ostensibly stale occupational disease claims, a recent judgment will an important tool in a defendant's locker for some…

As insurers continue to face ostensibly stale claims for noise induced hearing loss and other occupational diseases the Court of Appeal judgment in Pratt v BRB (Residuary) Ltd [2014] EWCA 1401 will an important tool in a defendant’s locker for some time to come.

The court had to consider the extent to which a claimant who seeks medical advice is expected to question the expert with regard to the cause for his condition. The case concerned what might be described as a typical NIHL claim. Mr Platt was exposed to noise during the course of employment with BRB between 1953 and 1988. He saw an ENT consultant in 1997 following a GP referral where his noise exposure was discussed, yet he did not enquire as to the cause of his hearing loss, neither was he told by the consultant that his hearing loss was wholly or in part due to past noise exposure.

It was held that Mr Platt should be fixed with constructive knowledge from 1997 when he was examined by the ENT consultant even though he was not told at that time that his hearing loss was associated with or caused by industrial nose exposure. It was reasonable in all the circumstances of the case for the claimant to ask about the cause of his deafness.

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