Why Are My Ears Ringing After a Car Accident?

Written by Steven Matz on . Posted in , .

Nearly 50 million Americans experience constant ringing or clicking in their ear, a condition known as tinnitus. This tinnitus can happen to anyone after a car accident, even several weeks following a collision, and can be extremely disruptive for patients. If you experience a car accident that results in tinnitus or long-term hearing loss, count on the compassionate car accident attorneys at Matz Injury Law to help you. You can call us at 1-866-22Not33 to set up a free consultation.

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a hearing condition in which you experience recurring sounds filling your ears, often described as ringing, roaring, buzzing, or clicking. These sounds may be low-pitched and subtle or exceedingly high-pitched and bothersome. They are not coming from an external source, and only you can hear them.

Experiencing tinnitus means that there is an issue with your auditory system somewhere, whether that be in the ear itself, the nerve connecting your inner ear to your brain, or the region of the brain responsible for processing sound.

Young woman suffering from inner ear pain

What Causes Tinnitus After a Car Accident?

Various injuries can occur in a car accident, and, as a result, you may develop tinnitus because of one of them. The following accident injuries can cause tinnitus.

Whiplash

In a motor vehicle accident, the sudden, rapid movement of the neck and head back and forth can result in a whiplash injury, and this can cause tinnitus. The phantom sounds you hear can be an indicator that you have whiplash and need to seek a medical opinion.

Jaw Injury

Experiencing face or head trauma during a car accident can result in a jaw injury, including temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. Such an injury to the jaw can cause tinnitus, possibly due to the close proximity of the jaw to the inner ear.

If a ringing noise or other sound in your ear is accompanied by jaw pain or difficulty opening and closing your mouth, you may have a personal injury with damage to the TMJ.

Neck Injury

Sustaining neck injuries in an auto accident can cause some of the more severe cases of tinnitus. These injuries may damage cartilage, ligaments, or nerves in the neck.

Car accident victims often experience louder ringing, clicking, or other types of sounds in their ears, along with neck pain and headaches. If you think you have a neck injury, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Traumatic Brain Injury

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be a serious injury and commonly occurs in a car crash. It can lead to tinnitus, particularly if the crash involves a blast of some type. Head injuries can result in damage to your ear bones, the inner ear, and the nerve or brain region that helps you hear. Also, odd buzzing or hissing sounds are often an early sign that you suffer from a TBI.

Airbags

In car crashes, an airbag can instantly inflate, which creates a roaring, loud sound which reaches high decibels. Such a noise, called acoustic trauma, results from a sudden burst of pressure during airbag deployment, and this may rupture or otherwise injure your inner ear.

What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Tinnitus Following a Car Accident?

Clicking, Ringing, or Buzzing Sounds

New sounds, often referred to as phantom sounds, are the most reported symptom of tinnitus. You may hear clicking, ringing, or buzzing. You can also hear hissing, humming, roaring, or pulsating sounds.

Female holding her head suffering from tinnitus dizziness

Hearing Loss

You may experience hearing loss due to some type of damage to the inner ear or eardrum when exposed to loud noises. There is also the potential for permanent hearing loss.

Ear Pain

Pain in your ear may indicate that some level of trauma occurred during your auto accident.

Insomnia

Insomnia can occur due to the distracting ringing sounds, keeping you from falling asleep.

Difficulty Concentrating

Tinnitus can interfere with normal brain activities such as concentrating. The distracting sounds may interrupt how your brain processes information daily.

Mood Disorders

Mood disorders, such as depression, can be a sign of tinnitus.

If you or a loved one experience any of these symptoms, even days or weeks after an accident, seek medical advice as soon as possible.

How Do Doctors Diagnose Tinnitus?

To diagnose tinnitus, your doctor or audiologist will rely on the symptoms you report and will also know what questions to ask to understand your symptoms better. Each description and answer can provide clues to other issues you may be experiencing.

Your doctor will also seek to determine the cause of your tinnitus, which may or may not be detectable. To start, you will undergo an examination of your head, neck, and ears and also discuss your past medical history. From there, different tests may follow, including hearing tests in a soundproof room or imaging tests, such as an MRI or CT scan.

Doctor using an otoscope to perform an ear examination

What is the Best Way to Treat Tinnitus?

Once your doctor provides a diagnosis of tinnitus, there are a few different treatments available. Below are four of the best ways to treat tinnitus today.

Sound Masking Devices

Sound masking devices provide a preferable external noise to replace those you experience with tinnitus. The device may provide slightly louder sounds, enough to distract you from the tinnitus or full masking effects to drown out those ringing, buzzing, or clicking sounds. Examples of these external sounds include white noise, soft music, or even nature.

These devices come in a variety of sizes and types and may be small enough to place inside the ear or big enough to set on a desk or bedside table. The key will be selecting the one that works for you and provides the relief you want and need.

Sound Machines

Customized sound machines are also a treatment option for those suffering from tinnitus. This treatment starts with a medical-grade device which is then customized with sounds tailored to your particular tinnitus. You will only wear the device occasionally yet still may receive benefits long-term, such as the lessening of the intensity of the tinnitus.

Progressive Tinnitus Management

Progressive tinnitus management is an audiology program involving five levels of treatment. Each step builds in intensity, leading to the use of sound generators and possibly cognitive behavioral therapy at some point.

Medication

Depending on your particular needs, your doctor may prescribe medications as part of your medical treatment for tinnitus. Anti-anxiety medications will help make the tinnitus symptoms more tolerable. Antidepressants, on the other hand, may go one step further and help to reduce your tinnitus.

Your doctor may use a variety of these approaches to treat your tinnitus or other ones, such as hearing aids. Managing your other symptoms will also be a priority.

How Long Does Ringing in the Ear Last After a Car Accident?

Following a car accident, victims often wonder how long they will have to deal with the ringing and other sounds resulting from tinnitus. These sounds can be distracting, inconvenient, and even interfere with your ability to hear.

The good news is that, in most personal injury claims, this ringing in the ear goes away within a few days or weeks. Yet, tinnitus can be permanent in about 20% of the cases, and this can affect a person’s long-term quality of life.

If you find yourself part of this 20%, it is time to consider whether you are being fairly compensated by the insurance company or if you can file a lawsuit. For help with these, seek legal advice and a free case evaluation with an experienced Michigan personal injury lawyer.

When Should I File a Lawsuit for Tinnitus After a Michigan Car Accident?

Your Michigan no-fault insurance should cover any medical expenses related to your car accident, including therapy. Yet, if insurance tries to deny your coverage, or limit it, then you can file a lawsuit. The purpose of the lawsuit will be to obtain compensation for any unpaid medical bills, as well as other related expenses such as mileage to and from medical treatments or appointments and any required attendant care. You can also sue for lost wages resulting from your inability to return to work.

Furthermore, you can sue for pain and suffering if you feel as though your injury resulted in some serious impairment of a body function. Pain and suffering is considered a non-economic damage and addresses issues such as ongoing physical discomfort and pain, emotional distress, mental anguish, and effects on your quality of life.

The amount in damages you may receive for pain and suffering in Michigan will depend largely on a few important factors, such as the severity of injuries and the length of time they may affect you. During the lawsuit, you will need to present evidence of injuries and how they impact your well-being. Such evidence often includes your medical records and testimony of medical professionals.

You will also need to show that the other driver is liable for your injuries, often requiring you to establish that negligence did occur. An experienced car accident lawyer can help with this by reviewing your personal injury case, compiling evidence, negotiating a fair settlement, and, if necessary, representing you in court.

What Damages Can You Collect from a Tinnitus Lawsuit?

In Michigan, you can recover both economic and non-economic damages in a tinnitus lawsuit.

Economic

Economic damages include financial losses you experience as a result of your injuries. These can include:

  • Medical bills, both current and in the future, for care and treatments
  • Rehabilitation expenses relating to the tinnitus
  • Lost wages, both past and future

Your personal injury attorney will calculate the value of these economic damages for you and know how to seek the maximum amounts available.

Non-Economic

Non-economic damages are those effects that cannot easily be attributed to a dollar value. The most common non-economic damage is pain and suffering and includes both emotional and physical suffering.

The damages you seek in your tinnitus lawsuit will depend on your particular circumstances and may go beyond the most commonly sought ones mentioned here. To find out what you may be eligible for, discuss your case with your personal injury attorney.

Collect Compensation for Your Tinnitus

Lawyer typing on a laptop

While soft ringing in your ears might not seem like an overly big deal to some, it can be debilitating long term, with many patients developing anxiety, depression, and insomnia as a result. At Matz Injury Law, we can help determine the true cost of your injuries and get you the compensation you need.

Studies show those that hired a personal injury attorney receive $77.6K in compensation compared to $17.6K for those who do not. You deserve to collect compensation for your tinnitus, and our law firm can help. Call 1-866-22Not33 today to schedule your free consultation, or fill out our online contact form.

Written By Steven Matz

Steven J. Matz is a founding shareholder of Matz Injury Law. The firm’s concentration is on personal injury litigation, with an emphasis on traumatic brain injury. Mr. Matz earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with high distinction and highest honors in 1974 from the University of Michigan and a Juris Doctor degree in 1977 from The George Washington University National Law Center. Mr. Matz lectures and publishes in a number of areas, including ethics, marketing, trial tactics, and head injury. Mr. Matz has served on the Michigan Association for Justice Executive Board and currently serves the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board as a Hearing Panel Chairman and Master. He is also a member of the State Bar Committee for Character and Fitness.
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