Over the years, we’ve helped many clients with head and neck trauma caused by motor vehicle accidents and falls. Some injuries like burns, fractures, and stiffness were easily diagnosed. But there’s another, less noticeable consequence that can be just as distressing.
What Is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a non-auditory noise resulting from damage to the inner ear. It’s a serious condition that can lead to confusion, depression, sleep disturbance and more. Symptoms are sometimes delayed for several weeks but usually show within a few days of an accident.
It begins as a ringing, buzzing or whistling that nobody else can hear. This is the non-auditory nature of tinnitus: in most cases, only you can perceive the sound.
Whiplash or Air Bag Acoustic Trauma
Tinnitus often results from whiplash, a neck injury that damages your nerves, intervertebral cartilage, and ligaments. It’s caused by the rapid jerking of the head you experience whenever you’re thrown forwards, backwards, or sideways. Think car crashes, falls, or a jolt to the head by a heavy object.
According to a joint study by the Oregon Health and Science University and US Department of Veterans Affairs, head and neck injuries like whiplash led to the most severe cases of tinnitus. Compared with other sufferers, those whose tinnitus began after head and neck trauma reported louder sounds, more headaches, greater difficulty concentrating, and higher rates of depression.
In violent car crashes where the airbags are deployed, the acoustic trauma from airbag deployment can also cause tinnitus. Indeed, car accidents often result in both whiplash and airbag deployment, which can certainly combine to cause tinnitus.
Consult a Medical Professional
If you were in an accident and are experiencing any of the above symptoms, visit an audiologist or ear nose and throat doctor right away.
This is important for two reasons. Firstly, you’ll need a doctor’s diagnosis to start any treatment. Secondly, if your tinnitus was caused by another person’s negligence and you plan to seek damages, you’ll need notes from a physician to serve as evidence.
Remember: with tinnitus, the noises are subjective and can’t be directly observed by anyone but you.
Luckily, there are telltale signs that a qualified medical professional will see. Your doctor will ask some routine questions, check your hearing, then ask you to move your eyes, jaw, and limbs. Depending on your situation, you’ll also get an MRI or CT scan.
Should you be diagnosed with tinnitus, you will likely be presented with treatment options including anxiety medication, a hearing instrument to mask the noise, and tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) which helps you ignore the sound the way you unconsciously screen out air conditioners and computer fans.
TRT may seem preferable to drugs or a hearing instrument, but it can take a while to work – often a year or two. Unfortunately, even with appropriate medical treatment to manage and help the condition, tinnitus may be permanent.
Compensation Through Help of a Skilled Personal Injury Lawyer
If you’ve developed tinnitus after a motor vehicle accident or fall caused by another person’s negligence, it’s important to seek the help of a qualified, experienced attorney to show that you are indeed suffering and that the other person’s carelessness caused it.
Your attorney will investigate the facts of the underlying trauma, speak with your doctors, and obtain other relevant information to prove the liability, causation, and the nature and extent of your damages. But proving the case requires skill, attention, and experience with the medical issues.invovled. The defense may argue that you don’t really have tinnitus, that their client wasn’t negligent or that your condition wasn’t caused by the accident.
Our attorneys have substantial experience handling tinnitus claims and have the expertise and compassion to ensure that you receive the justice you are entitled.
For a Free Consultation with one of Passen & Powell’s top-rated personal injury lawyers, call us at 312-527-4500.