One of the more rare yet serious injuries you can get from a car accident is an ear injury. It could be due to whiplash, deployment of an airbag, or other trauma incurred during a car accident. Here is some information about ear injuries that may occur in conjunction with auto accidents.
When we typically think of ear injuries or hearing loss, we usually associate it with listening to loud music or something similar for extended periods of time. We also might think of someone like a construction worker or someone else who works around loud noises all day. However, hearing loss can occur due to a sudden and traumatic event like a car accident. It can occur with a powerful blow to the side of the head or a severe whiplash injury. The injury can involve tinnitus (ringing sensation in the ear) or some other ear injury.
The trauma can cause a dislocation or fracture in the bones located in the middle ear. In some cases, there can be a fracture to the cochlea which is also located in the inner ear and is the main sensory organ of hearing. A hole in the inner ear may lead to inner ear fluid leakage. In some cases, other bone fractures can lead to hearing loss and in some cases, bleeding in the inner ear. A TMJ injury can also cause damage to the jaw which, in turn, affects the nerves in the ear.
The anatomy of the ear includes three main parts, the outer ear, the inner ear, and the middle ear. The outer ear captures sounds and sends them through the ear canal to the middle ear which contains the eardrum and three tiny bones known as the hammer, anvil, and stirrup. These three bones are collectively known as the ossicles. Damage to these tiny bones or surrounding structures of the ear can sometimes cause serious hearing loss.
Also, you can suffer an ear injury simply by being exposed to a very loud noise. Some car accidents can involve noises at very high decibels. Loud sounds at certain decibels can cause damage to the inner ear structures and in some cases, cause permanent hearing loss.
How can you prove an ear injury case? How do you prove hearing loss? Just like any injury that may involve a car accident, you need to have a medical professional document the injury very well from the very first day. If the injury doesn't "surface" until several weeks after the accident, the insurance adjuster may doubt the causal connection between the accident and the injury. Therefore, even if you suspect any minor problem, you should bring it up your doctor in order to document the injury. Remember, most insurance adjusters are inclined to doubt your injury. Some adjusters think everyone is out there trying to "game the system." Failure to properly document injuries is one of the biggest reason that personal injuries cases fail or fall short.
In addition to properly documenting the injury, you're going to want an "ear nose and throat" doctor and/or a professional audiologist to prepare a report that clearly links the hearing loss you have to the automobile accident. There needs to be a connection. You must demonstrate the injury was "most likely" from the car accident. You don't have to be 100% sure. This is what is known as "preponderance of the evidence."
Then, you have to show you did everything you could to try to improve your situation. This is known as your duty to "mitigate your damages." You just can't sit around and let your hearing loss (or other ear injury) get worse and do nothing about it. However, after you've done all you can, and you've gone through whatever therapy and treatment you can, you're going to reach a plateau of one kind or another. First, you may find that you totally regained your hearing which would be wonderful. Second, you may have some kind of permanent deficit, or at least one that's going to last for the foreseeable future. You can't really know this until you've tried all the medical avenues available to you. Also, an adjuster is more likely going to believe you if you've done all you can to better your situation.
Any permanent deficit needs to be documented by a medical professional. If you suspect you suffered an ear injury from an auto accident, you must act very quickly. Any delay in diagnosis and/or treatment can backfire. Go see an experienced personal injury attorney and discuss your case with him or her. If you live in the Santa Clarita area (and surrounding communities), please feel free to contact my office for a free consultation. Our number is (661) 414-7100.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia,