Santa Barbara Hearing and Vision Loss Attorneys
Damage to the eyes or ears can drastically change your life. Not only are these injuries painful, but they can result in lifelong disabilities that impact your career, personal life, and relationships. While such losses are traumatic, the long-term issues and complications are also costly and difficult to anticipate. In addition to emergency medical treatment, you may need corrective lenses, hearing aids, and other assistance to live a normal life.
If you suffered hearing loss or vision loss due to someone else’s negligence, you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries. However, this process can be extremely difficult to undergo on your own, and you should speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer as early as possible. At NordstrandBlack PC, our Santa Barbara hearing and vision loss attorneys can review your accident and advocate for full compensation. Let us take the burden off your shoulders and help you hold those who caused your injuries accountable for their actions. To schedule a free consultation with a team of knowledgeable lawyers, call (805) 962-2022.
Hearing loss usually occurs due to two different scenarios:
- Direct damage to the outer or inner ear; or
- Damage to the brain’s ability to interpret sound.
Both the outer and inner ear work together to move sound waves into the brain to be interpreted. While the outer ear can suffer serious trauma such as lacerations and bruises in an accident, such as a car crash, it is possible to retain your ability to hear if it is damaged. However, you may still be entitled to scarring and disfigurement damages.
However, if the inner ear is damaged, permanent hearing loss is a real possibility, including deafness. Inner ear damage can be the result of:
- A foreign object entering the ear canal, such as metal or glass in a car accident
- A tear in the eardrum caused by a fractured bone in the middle ear
- Trauma to the inner ear nerve, including direct nerve damage and whiplash
- Loud noises caused by explosions, gunshots, violent collisions between large vehicles, and airbag deployments
- Constant, high-volume noises in industrial jobs, such as factories and construction sites
In the other scenario, the ears themselves may not have suffered any damage in an accident, but you can still suffer hearing loss or ringing in your ears (tinnitus) if you experienced a traumatic brain injury. Certain regions of the brain translate sound into information for our brains to interpret. If these regions are damaged, you may have difficulty understanding certain sounds.
Hearing damage can include a wide variety of injuries, ranging from ringing in the ear to total deafness. After a serious car accident, blow to the head, or violent attack, it is common for victims to suffer from:
- Voices or noises sounding muffled
- Difficulty understanding certain words or sounds
- The inability to tell where a sound is coming from
- Ringing in the ear, or tinnitus
- Balancing issues
While some of these issues may be a natural part of aging, many are caused by serious trauma. Tinnitus, for example, can occur after an airbag deploys with a loud sound during a vehicle collision. If another driver caused the accident, he may be liable for your injuries and owe you compensation.
Vision loss is one of the top 10 most common disabilities among adults aged 18 or older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Like hearing loss, vision loss can occur because of direct damage to the eyes or due to a traumatic brain injury. Our eyes are largely unprotected during an accident, which means that objects or debris can easily enter them and cause serious trauma. This can include things like hot sparks, pieces of metal or glass in a car accident, and dangerous chemicals. Extremely bright lights and heat can also burn a person's eyes, causing permanent vision loss.
Your eyes can also be damaged if you suffered a facial fracture. The bones of the skull are extremely strong, but when broken, shards can become lodged in the eyes or cause serious bruising. Both scenarios can lead to permanent blindness.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) to certain parts of the brain can also cause vision loss. While the eyes themselves may be fully functional, a person’s brain may be unable to interpret what it sees. Some TBIs can cause unusual effects beyond blurry or diminished vision. For example, some brain damage can interfere with a person's ability to recognize facial features or alter a person’s ability to perceive depth perception.
Vision loss varies depending on the type of damage suffered. While some accident victims only suffer a slight jump in their prescription and require corrective lenses, others may lose their ability to see objects in the corner of their eyes or even suffer blindness.
Common types of vision loss include:
- Decreased ability to see objects in the distance
- Difficulties reading
- Decreased range of vision
- Sensitivity to bright lights
- Inability to see in the dark
- Inability to recognize faces
- Total blindness
Given how much we rely on our vision for day-to-day tasks, even partial damage can change your life. If someone else caused your injuries due to an act of recklessness or neglect, then you are well within your rights to file a personal injury claim against them or their insurance company for compensation. However, you will likely face an uphill battle if you do not have an experienced personal injury lawyer at your side to help you collect evidence.
To prove hearing or vision loss in a personal injury claim, you will need to collect certain pieces of evidence. First, your medical records will prove incredibly useful in demonstrating how the accident caused your disability and why the at-fault party is liable for your injuries. With vision loss, this is typically easier, as you can clearly show the amount of trauma you have suffered through surgeries as well as how serious your disability is through routine eye exams.
Hearing loss, however, is often more difficult to prove because it is considered an “invisible injury.” While you may clearly know that you cannot hear as well as you used to be able to, some injuries like tinnitus do not have certified tests. While your doctor’s opinion and any hearing exams that show damage may prove useful, your attorney may have to find more creative ways to prove your injury. If you did not regularly listen to loud music or work at a loud job site, you may be able to use witness testimony to support your claim. Family members, friends, and coworkers can all testify that you were able to hear them at normal levels prior to the accident and explain how you are now having a harder time hearing them.
Suffering a vision or hearing loss will change your life. However, if you were injured in an accident caused by another person or company, you should not be the one paying for your injury, future losses, and emotional distress.
While your immediate concern may be paying for your medical treatment, an experienced personal injury lawyer can advocate for far more. Vision and hearing loss are serious disabilities that can impact your life: your ability to communicate with friends and family, and your personal hobbies. By filing a claim, you may be able to recover compensation for:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Current lost wages
- Future lost wages
- Missed professional opportunities
- Psychological trauma after sensory loss
- Difficulties with personal relationships, including marriage
- Difficulties performing certain tasks and personal hobbies
The long-term costs of hearing and vision loss can devastate your life. You may be worried about the high costs of treatment, the need for corrective lenses or hearing aids, and how you are going to continue working. You may need retraining or to learn American Sign Language (ASL) or braille. All of this takes time and money that most Californians do not have on hand. However, if you pursue a personal injury claim against the person who injured you, you may be able to get the care and treatment you will need.
Do not try to handle a catastrophic injury like hearing or vision loss on your own. Insurance companies are not known for being charitable and they may try to deny your claim, especially if it will cost them a lot of money. Instead of dealing with them alone, contact our Santa Barbara personal injury lawyers at NordstrandBlack PC. Our legal team can review your case in a free consultation and explore the legal options available to you. If we represent you in a personal injury claim, we will not charge any attorney fees until we get you compensation for your losses. To speak to us today, call our office at (805) 962-2022.
- Noise-Induced Hearing Loss - NIDCD
- Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA)
- Loud Noise Can Cause Hearing Loss - CDC
- National Eye Institute
- Vision Impairment and Blindness - MedlinePlus
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