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Can Car Accidents Cause Tinnitus?

September 8, 2020

Car accidents can cause all types of injuries. Some injuries can have symptoms that last long after the accident, impacting the victim’s quality of life. Injuries to the head or neck can cause tinnitus, which is a persistent ringing or rushing sound in the ears.

Tinnitus is commonly thought of as a nuisance, but those who suffer from it know how disruptive it can be. Car accident victims who suffer from tinnitus may be eligible for compensation for their suffering.

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a condition in which a person perceives sound that is not caused by their environment or any external source. Those suffering from tinnitus may hear a clicking, buzzing, hissing, or ringing sound, even though there is nothing around them that would produce noise. The sounds may appear intermittently or may be heard constantly.

The sensation is caused by an abnormality in the middle or inner ear, such as a tear in one of the nerves in the ear, fracture of one of the tiny ear bones, or rupture of the eardrum. These abnormalities disrupt the nerve pathway from the ears to the brain, sending auditory information to the wrong place in the brain and causing victims to perceive sound that is not there.

What Causes Tinnitus?

Tinnitus can be a symptom of numerous medical conditions; it is not a disorder itself, but is a sign of some other illness or injury. There is no test to diagnose tinnitus, as the sensation cannot be heard by anyone else. However, doctors can use audiometric tests to measure hearing loss.

Deafness usually occurs in the same ear that is experiencing the ringing. The condition can impact one or both ears, depending on how the injury occurred. Many who suffer from head injuries experience tinnitus, which may not appear until several days or weeks after the injury.

Can Tinnitus be Cured?

Tinnitus may clear on its own after some time, but about one in five victims will suffer from the condition permanently. Chronic tinnitus is often more than a mere nuisance and can have a severe impact on a person’s quality of life. The buzzing or ringing sensations may be loud enough to block out other sounds and can affect a person’s concentration or memory. Those with tinnitus may suffer from sleep disorders, which can cause chronic fatigue, as well as elevated stress levels.

Many chronic tinnitus sufferers can find relief by masking the sound with other sounds, often with a white noise machine or radio. There are also devices similar to hearing aids that can help those with more severe cases. If the tinnitus is linked to other hearing issues, an audiologist may be able to diagnose and treat the underlying condition.

Why is Tinnitus Common After a Car Accident?

Car accidents are one of the most common causes of hearing issues, such as tinnitus, and there are a number of ways these injuries can occur. Many accident victims experience traumatic brain injuries due to the force of impact, slamming their head on a window, dashboard, airbag, or even a seat cushion.

A traumatic brain injury can cause dormant nerve clusters in the brain to become active and result in numerous symptoms, including tinnitus, that can take months or years to recover from. Whiplash, which occurs when the head and neck rapidly snaps back during an accident, can also cause tinnitus, as the snapping motion damages nerves and ligaments around the ears.

In many cases, it is not a blow to the head during the wreck that causes tinnitus, but the sounds that come after. Airbags automatically deploy when a car is hit hard enough, and the deployment is accompanied by a loud explosion. The sound can result in what is known as acoustic trauma, which is damage to the ears caused by high decibels.

The sound pressure level of an airbag deploying can reach or even exceed 170 decibels, which is well above what is considered the pain threshold. The acoustic trauma from an airbag can cause serious injury to anyone in the car, not just those sitting closest to it. Victims may experience immediate effects, such as extreme discomfort, hearing loss, or bleeding from the ears, as well as long-term symptoms, such as tinnitus and vertigo.

What Should I Do After a Car Accident?

There are steps drivers can take to ensure that all of their injuries, including tinnitus, are covered following a car accident. Calling the police to the scene will ensure that there is a report detailing the circumstances of the accident, which can include photos of the vehicles and the scene, witness statements, descriptions of road conditions, and other important details. The report is important to have when dealing with insurance companies, as well as for any disputes related to liability. Drivers should exchange contact and insurance information at the scene in case follow-up is needed for injuries or vehicle damage.

Should I Always be Medically Examined After a Car Accident?

Drivers or passengers who are involved in a car accident should be examined by a doctor afterward, even if they do not appear to be injured. Some injuries, like whiplash or concussions, may not be obvious right away. A check-up after the accident can establish a baseline in case symptoms appear later. Even minor accidents can cause injuries, so anyone involved should get a precautionary screening. Drivers or passengers who are injured should get treated for their injuries as soon as possible.

Car accident injuries can have long lasting effects, including tinnitus. Accident victims should document their injuries and all required treatments as they progress so that they can recover all available damages.

Often, accident victims will have more urgent injuries, such as broken bones or cuts and bruises, that may need more immediate attention in the aftermath of an accident. As a result, hidden injuries, such as tinnitus, may not be diagnosed at the first doctor visit. Over the ensuing weeks, however, it will become apparent that the ringing sensation is not going away and that treatment is needed.

What Should I Do if I Suspect I Have Tinnitus?

If a car accident victim is suffering from tinnitus, they are entitled to have any necessary medical expenses covered, including diagnosis and treatments. Tinnitus can be compensated, just like any other injury resulting from the accident, regardless if the injury is short-term or permanent.

There are some unique challenges with getting coverage for tinnitus, however. Invisible injuries, such as tinnitus, can be difficult to diagnose and even more difficult to tie to a car accident. There can be other causes for tinnitus, such as age or a circulatory system disorder, that may make it harder to prove that it was caused by the crash.

Accident victims should be sure to tell their doctor about every complication they are experiencing after an accident, including ringing in the ears. Having documentation of all of the injuries can help victims obtain compensation.

Additionally, speaking to a lawyer is also beneficial. A lawyer will examine the case and evidence to determine the best course of action. Tinnitus can disrupt a victim’s life, so it is necessary to receive the appropriate amount of compensation.

Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers Represent Injured Car Accident Victims Who Suffer from Tinnitus

If you are suffering from tinnitus after a car accident, call one of our Virginia Beach car accident lawyers today. At East Coast Trial Lawyers, we will thoroughly review the facts of your case to determine who is at fault for your accident. We will pursue an aggressive legal strategy to obtain the compensation you deserve. Call us at 757-352-2237 or complete our online form for a free consultation. Located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Eastern Shores, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, Virginia, as well as North Carolina and nationwide.

Areas We Serve

Our law firm proudly serves clients injured anywhere in Virginia or North Carolina on personal injury claims, including cases with traumatic brain injury, spinal and neck injury, wrongful death, and more serious injuries. As Virginia Beach personal injury attorneys with many years experience, our team of lawyers will be ready to fight for you. If you were injured on the job, our Virginia Beach Workers Compensation lawyers are ready to serve you.

Call 757-352-2237 or fill out the online contact form for a free consultation about your personal injury, workers compensation, or other attorney services. Our firm adopts a team approach to every case, so while one primary lawyer will be assigned to your case, you have the benefit of an experienced team of lawyers, all working on your side. We are located in Virginia Beach, VA, and serve clients who were injured anywhere in Virginia or North Carolina.


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