Hearing loss after a car accident is a condition that requires immediate medical attention. Not only could it be a sign of a serious injury, but the failure to seek prompt treatment could result in total or partial permanent deafness or chronic tinnitus.
The impact of hearing loss after a car accident can be significant for victims. Auto insurance companies and claims adjusters may downplay its significance, but the reality is that this medical condition can be debilitating. It can also be an indication of a more severe injury, such as a traumatic brain injury. Many car crash victims who experience hearing impairment struggle to resume their normal jobs, family lives, and social activities.
Hearing loss after a car accident can have various causes, including:
- Whiplash-related neck injury
- Traumatic brain injury that damages the auditory pathway
- Skull fractures that damage the ear canal
- High decibel levels or the impact from the sudden deployment of the vehicle’s airbags, especially when near the ear.
The symptoms of hearing loss after a car accident can include:
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Difficulty distinguishing voices
- Difficulty understanding words, particularly in the presence of background noise
- Muffled hearing
- Painful itching or burning in the ears
- Pressure or fullness in one or both ears
- Balance problems
Various types of injuries can result in hearing loss after a car accident, including vertigo, deafness, tinnitus, ruptured eardrum, disruption of blood flow to the cochlea, damage to inner ear tissues and hair cells, and damage to the small bones in the middle ear.
To diagnose hearing loss after a car accident, you will likely need to consult with an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat doctor) who specializes in evaluating and diagnosing hearing impairments. Referrals to an otologist or neurologist, as well as an audiologist, may also be necessary. A neurologist may be involved to rule out a traumatic brain injury, which often presents with symptoms such as headaches and tinnitus. Diagnostic imaging, such as an MRI, may be recommended to rule out other potential causes.
Treatment options for hearing loss after a car accident may include surgery, cochlear implants, and hearing aids.
If you have experienced hearing loss after a car accident, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver for pain and suffering compensation, as well as excess medical expenses and lost wages. In Michigan, for example, you would need to show a “serious impairment of body function” to claim pain and suffering compensation under the auto law.
The settlement for hearing loss after a car accident depends on factors such as the impact of the injury on your ability to lead a normal life, your medical needs, the experience and reputation of your lawyer, and the at-fault driver’s liability insurance limits. It is important to choose an attorney with a track record of going to trial, as this can often lead to higher settlements.
In Michigan, you would need to file an application for No-Fault benefits with the responsible auto insurance company within one year of the accident. No-Fault benefits can help cover medical expenses, lost wages, transportation costs, household replacement services, and attendant care services. If your insurance company denies or cuts off your No-Fault benefits, you have the option to file a lawsuit to recover unpaid or overdue benefits.
It is important to consult with an experienced attorney who can guide you through the legal process and ensure your rights are protected.