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Hearing Loss (Tinnitus) After a Car Accident

March 27, 2019

When most people think of the injuries possible in a car accident they typically cite things like bone fractures, spinal injuries, and concussions. However, many injuries from a car accident can be imperceptible at first or entail symptoms only the victim can feel or observe. One of the most common yet often overlooked injuries resulting from car accidents is hearing loss.

If another driver caused your car accident due to negligence, you can hold him or her accountable for the resulting damages through a personal injury claim, often with the help of an experienced Denver accident lawyer. However, it is essential to discover the full scope of your damages before you accept a settlement offer or pursue a lawsuit, and the hearing-related medical issues that can result from a car accident may not show symptoms for several weeks following the accident.

How Can a Car Accident Cause Hearing Loss?

While a car accident may entail concussive forces that can disrupt the balance of air pressure inside and outside the middle ear, most hearing loss that occurs from car accidents actually happens due to head and neck injuries, particularly whiplash.

Whiplash occurs when the neck and head violently snap and twist back and forth from the forces of a car accident. The victim’s seatbelt keeps him or her restrained against the seat, but the head and neck are still free to move and will feel the brunt of the force of impact and then the sudden stop. When the neck experiences a sudden momentum shift in this manner, the event can damage the muscles and other soft tissues of the neck and cause nerve problems in the back, neck, and back of the head.

The force of impact that can cause whiplash may also interfere with the structure and nerves of the ear, resulting in an unpleasant condition known as tinnitus. While it remains uncertain exactly how whiplash and other car accident-related injuries cause tinnitus, the link is still clear.

What Is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a condition entailing a persistent ringing, whistling, or other continuous noise in the ears. It is difficult for medical professionals to determine the link between a car accident and tinnitus. Some speculate this condition manifests as a result of pressure imbalances, while others blame nerve damage in the head and neck that extends to the nerves of the ears.

Tinnitus may not be life-threatening and may sound more annoying than painful, but the reality is that tinnitus can significantly impact your quality of life and make it difficult to complete work and daily tasks. Persistent ringing in the ears can lead to sleeping problems, irritability, anxiety, and symptoms of depression.

Some people experience tinnitus after attending loud music, hearing sudden loud noises, or other causes that do not involve a head or neck injury. However, those who develop tinnitus from a neck injury like whiplash often report more severe symptoms than those who suffer tinnitus from other causes.

Potential Legal Options for Hearing Loss From a Car Accident

One of the most difficult aspects of securing compensation for hearing loss after a car accident is that tinnitus symptoms and hearing loss may not be immediately noticeable. Symptoms may not appear for several weeks following the accident.

Depending on the steps you take toward recovery after a car accident, such as an insurance claim or a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, your tinnitus or hearing loss symptoms may not start causing you problems or noticeable discomfort until you have already accepted a settlement or case award.

It is essential to seek medical treatment after any car accident, even if you believe you only suffered minor injuries. If you experience any kind of pain or discomfort in the upper back, neck, or head, inform your doctor about your symptoms and ask about the potential for hearing loss. If your doctor includes hearing loss or persistent tinnitus as a possible future complication from your injuries on your medical report, this document could be valuable for securing compensation for your related medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering from persistent tinnitus and other injuries.