Noise Induced Hearing Loss – The Time Limits

Platt v BRB – Time Limits in Noise Induced Hearing Loss Claims

A recent Court of Appeal ruling has offered new guidance on the “date of knowledge” for the purpose of arguing the time limits for bringing a claim for Noise Induced Hearing Loss.

In this case, the Court had to consider the extent to which a Claimant, who seeks medical advice in relation to his condition, is expected to enquire with that expert, as to the exact cause of his/her condition.


Limitation Period and Date of Knowledge


Section 11 Limitation Act 1980

By virtue of the Limitation Act 1980, a claim for personal injury brought in negligence, nuisance or breach of duty must be issued within three years of the date on which the cause of action accrued (i.e. when the injury actually occurred) or the date of knowledge of the person injured (if later).


Section 14(3) of the Limitation Act 1980 provides that,

“For the purposes of this section a person’s knowledge includes knowledge which he might reasonably have been expected to acquire.

The reference to “issued” within Section 11 is the date that Court Proceedings must be lodged (issued) with the Court.

In personal injury cases such as road traffic accidents the date on which the “cause of action” accrued is the date the accident occurred, so working out three years from that date is usually straight forward.

In Noise Induced Hearing Loss cases, and other claims involving industrial disease, the date the “cause of action” accrued, i.e. when someone begins to experience hearing loss, can often be longer then 3 years from when they were exposed to excessive levels of noise.



The case concerned a 76 year old Claimant Mr Platt who was employed as an engineer working at the British Rail Engineering work in Crewe between 1953 and 1988.

Mr Platt was bringing a claim for damages as a result of hearing loss. It was common ground that, by 1997, he knew he had significant hearing loss.

In 2010 he read an article about noise induced hearing loss and Court Proceedings were issued in 2011.  The judge at first instance found that the Mr Platt’s date of knowledge, for the purpose of the Limitation Act 1980 was in 2010, however the Court of Appeal held that Mr Platt “date of knowledge” was in 1997 when he was examined by the medical expert.

Even though the medical expert did not tell Mr Platt that his hearing loss was caused by his previous employment or noise exposure, the Court of Appeal held it was reasonable to expect someone in Mr Platt’s position to seek an explanation as to the cause of his symptoms.

As a result, the Court of Appeal held the “date of knowledge” was in 1997 resulting in Mr Platt being out of time in bringing his claim.

This recent decision highlights the further difficulties a Claimant may face pursuing a Noise Induced Hearing Loss claim.

Not only does a Claimant have to prove the Defendants negligently exposed him/her to excessive noise, it is clear that Defendants will also be looking to see what is contained within the Claimant’s medical records to determine if the Claimant, was aware that they had a work related condition and also if the they would have been in a position, where it would have been reasonable for the him/her to consult their GP to ask if that hearing loss was noise related.

If you have a hearing loss, which you consider to be caused by excessive levels, and have attended your GP or other medical expert, or if you are thinking about doing so, it is important that you ask the GP/medical expert as to the exact cause of your hearing loss.

If you are, or believe your are, suffering from noise induced hearing loss as a result of exposure to excessive levels of noise with your current or former employers and the relevant time limits still apply then our team of specialists are no hand to assist. Please contact us on free phone 0800 107 3000 or submit our online enquiry forms and we will get back to you within 4 working hours.

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