Hearing loss is usually a degenerative condition associated with aging or constant exposure to loud environments. However, hearing loss can also result from traumatic injuries, specifically those sustained in car accidents. Generally speaking, there are three injuries or circumstances of an accident that may result in hearing loss: whiplash, head trauma, and airbag deployment.
A whiplash injury occurs when the head is forced forward and backward in a rapid motion; straining the muscles, tendons, and nerves in the neck and shoulders. These muscles and nerves also support the ears and their function. As a result, whiplash can damage the ears and severely impact your hearing. This damage can also lead to injuries like Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ), which may lead to vertigo, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and hearing loss.
During an auto accident, your head may come into contact with various portions of your vehicle. If this happens you will likely sustain a traumatic brain injury (i.e. concussion, coup/contrecoup injuries). Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are among the most common injuries resulting from auto accidents.
If you sustain head trauma, you may damage your auditory pathway which spans from the ears to the brain’s auditory cortex. Additionally, your ear bones may become dislocated, and/or the cochlea (an inner structure of the ear) may be fractured. A head injury may also result in the puncturing of the inner ear causing bleeding or fluid discharge.
Even mild head injuries can result in:
- Ruptured Eardrums
- Disrupted Blood Flow to the Cochlea
- Damaged Inner Ear Tissues, Membranes, Hair Cells, and Ear Bones
Furthermore, facial fractures may breach your ear canal and damage your hearing. Unless you go into immediate surgery to remove the bone fragments from your ear canal, you may suffer permanent hearing loss.
Damage to the Outer Ear
You may also suffer from hearing loss after an auto accident if you sustain damage to your outer ear. This portion of your ear is essential for capturing soundwaves, and if damaged may impact your ability to hear properly.
Studies suggest that approximately 17% of people suffer some level of permanent hearing loss after an accident with airbag deployment. Generally, airbags will deploy when a vehicle moving at least 25 miles per hour strikes an object. Upon sensing a collision, your airbags will deploy through the use of a small explosive device; creating the loud sound that accompanies airbag deployment.
The Hearing Health Matters website provides that upon deployment, the side front airbag can produce a sound as loud as 160 decibels, with dual airbags producing up to 170 decibels, and side airbags producing up to 178 decibels. Consequently, a one-time exposure to noise of 140 decibels or greater can permanently damage your hearing.
Symptoms of Hearing Loss or Inner Ear Damage
- Trouble Distinguishing Voices
- Muffled Hearing
- Ear Ringing (Tinnitus)
- Painful Itching or Burning in the ears
- Pressure in One or Both Ears
- Feelings of Nausea or Motion Sickness
- Abnormal Acoustic Reflexes
- Sensitivity to Sound
- Balance Issues
Resulting Medical Expenses
If you require hearing aids following an auto accident, it is highly unlikely that the entire cost will be covered by auto insurance (if at all). However, this depends on the insurance policy and provider, as some will cover the cost of hearing aids.
How Can Hearing Loss Impact Your Insurance Claim?
After an auto accident, if you suffer from hearing loss, the value of your claim may increase. A loss of hearing can significantly impact your quality of life as it can impact your physical wellbeing and mental health.
How to Prove Hearing Loss After an Accident
Unfortunately, some insurance companies may discount hearing loss as the injury is “invisible”. However, you may be able to prove your hearing worsened after an auto accident through the testimony of a medical professional, as well as by providing a detailed description of your lifestyle prior to the accident.
Your doctor will be able to point to specific injuries that may have worsened your hearing; referencing hearing tests and necessary surgeries to restore your hearing. You can also prove your hearing loss by giving details about your lifestyle prior to the accident. If you worked a job where loud noises occurred infrequently, and/or lived in a quiet neighborhood, you may be able to prove your hearing was fine prior to the accident.
Were you or someone you know involved in a recent auto accident? Call Auto Accident Care Network now at 801-683-1948 to connect with a live care advocate. Our team at AACN can connect you to trusted attorneys and doctors to schedule a free legal consultation, a free thirty-minute massage, and a no-cost medical exam!