Advocating For Proper Compensation After An Accident
Auto accidents can be extremely frightening – and loud. Just the physical collision between two heavy vehicles traveling at high speeds sounds like a massive explosion. But when an air bag deploys, it can also cause a small explosion that can severely damage an occupant’s hearing. This is why many accident victims experience ringing in the ear, vertigo and hearing loss afterward, which can last for years.
Insurance companies often dismiss hearing damage after a car accident as an “invisible injury,” which can make it difficult for you to recover compensation if someone else hit you. However, our team at Pendergast Law Personal Injury Lawyers understands just how devastating these injuries can be and can diligently advocate for proper compensation. To discuss your case in a free consultation, call our Seattle hearing damage attorneys toll-free at 888-539-9211.
How Auto Accidents Cause Acute Hearing Damage
While many people expect to experience some form of hearing loss as they age, some suffer a drastic drop in this ability due to acute damage. Acute damage often involves some form of direct trauma to the ears, such as a punctured eardrum or cochlea, but it can also occur due to trauma to the soft tissues of the neck, the brain or nerves.
With regard to auto accidents, there are several aspects of a crash that can damage an occupant’s hearing, including:
- Air bag deployment: Air bags are lifesaving devices, but, as with any device, there are limitations. When an air bag deploys, a small explosion occurs within the steering column that reaches an estimated 178 decibels, far higher than any normal ear should register. Because these explosions occur a short distance from an occupant’s ears, it can cause permanent hearing loss.
- Hazardous material explosions: Throughout the state of Washington, large tankers trucks transport various flammable materials, such as oil, ethanol and gasoline. When ignited, these hazardous materials can cause massive explosions. Like with air bags, these explosions can lead to severe hearing damage, including tinnitus.
- Skull fractures: There are three bones located within each ear that provide support and send vibrations to the eardrum. If fractured, these bones can puncture the eardrum or tear other important parts of the ear. This trauma often leads to permanent deafness.
- Nerve damage: Each ear is connected to an auditory nerve that translates sound waves into brain signals. If you suffer a serious blow to the skull or these nerves are compressed, then it can cause severe pain when you hear loud noises. You may also find it difficult to hear certain words and sounds when people are speaking.
- Whiplash: In some cases, damage to the soft tissues of the neck, upper back and shoulders can influence your ability to hear. This is often related to the movement of the neck during a collision, which can affect the nerve endings within the ears and skull. The physical strain caused during whiplash can make it difficult for these nerves to properly communicate with the brain, leading to tinnitus, hearing loss and vertigo.
- Traumatic brain injuries: Our bodies process the sounds that travel through the ear canal in our brains. The brain acts as a filter, separating out random background noises as we focus on music, someone else’s words or certain sounds. After a traumatic brain injury, the brain can mistranslate those sounds, leading to tinnitus or an inability to hear certain noises.
Common Types Of Hearing Damage
Hearing damage can vary depending on what part was injured and the extent of the trauma. Tears in the eardrum, for example, can lead to permanent deafness, whereas some traumatic brain injuries can be corrected with surgery, medication or therapy. After an auto accident, it is important to report all of your symptoms to a doctor as soon as possible and discuss any hearing damage. Even if you do not notice the damage until a few days later, checking in with a medical professional can prove incredibly helpful in developing a treatment plan.
The most common forms of hearing loss after a car accident include:
- Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears
- Difficulties hearing people talk in a quiet environment
- Difficulties distinguishing between certain sounds
- Headaches as a result of loud noises
- Inner ear pain
- Fullness or pressure in the ears
Despite the negative impact hearing loss can have on your life, there are several treatments your doctor can prescribe. For situations where you experience sudden hearing loss, a doctor may prescribe steroids, which can reduce inflammation in the ear and return your hearing. But with permanent injuries, you may need a hearing aid to help you detect quieter sounds or a cochlear implant. While these treatments can be extremely expensive, you may be able to recover compensation if you were injured by a negligent driver.
Can You Include Hearing Loss In A Claim?
Hearing loss can lead to a variety of costs, ranging from medical bills as part of a long-term treatment plan to lost earning capacity if it affects your career to the emotional difficulties of dealing with a sudden disability. You may find it difficult to socialize because you are constantly asking someone to speak louder or are having trouble enjoying music or movies. However, it is possible to include hearing loss in your claim and recover compensation for your injuries.
Insurance companies typically dismiss hearing damage as an “invisible illness.” If you attempt to file a claim on your own, an insurance adjuster may state that it is unrelated to the accident and offer you an insultingly low settlement. That is why seeing a doctor as early as possible after a collision is imperative.
In addition, if you work with us at Pendergast Law, we can utilize our expertise and knowledge to advocate for proper compensation for your injuries. Our attorneys can work with your doctors to show how the collision caused severe trauma to your ears, resulting in acute hearing loss. We can also use witness statements from your family, friends and co-workers to highlight how hearing loss has negatively impacted your life. If you did not have severe hearing damage prior, then these statements could help prove that you suffered a sharp decline due to the crash.
Schedule A Free Consultation Today
After a car accident, you may be left feeling hopeless, stressed about your future. Hearing loss can set you back thousands of dollars in medical bills on top of the added difficulties of maintaining a regular job. These costs can quickly add up and you may be tempted to accept a quick settlement from the at-fault insurance company. However, we at Pendergast Law, are here to tell you that is a mistake. Insurance companies heavily undervalue claims, especially when hearing loss is involved, but by working with a skilled team of injury lawyers, you may be able to receive proper compensation.
If you or someone you love suffered hearing damage as a result of a negligent driver, reach out to a Seattle personal injury attorney at Pendergast Law. We have years of collective experience representing car accident victims. We also work on a contingency fee basis, meaning we do not get paid unless we win your claim, and there is no added cost to working with us. Contact our office toll-free at 888-539-9211 to schedule a free consultation.