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Tinnitus After a Car Accident

a car dashboard with deployed airbags

Car accidents are known for causing a host of injuries, both external and internal, physical, and emotional. The traumatic force of a crash can cause broken bones, neck and back pain, and even heart conditions. But equally as important to consider in the event of a crash is the protection of one’s hearing. Motor vehicle wrecks frequently cause tinnitus, a condition that haunts victims with persistent phantom noises.


The National Institute of Health estimates that each year, roughly 25 million Americans will experience temporary tinnitus. It’s an impairment that has many causes. Tinnitus can result from aging or illnesses, but it also commonly comes from exposure to loud noises like those produced in an accident.

Tinnitus from a Car Accident

Although safety measures built into your car can be lifesaving or prevent injury altogether, unintended consequences still happen. Airbags, for example, have saved over 50,000 lives since 1987 according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHSTA).

One drawback to airbags, though, is that the pressure changes in the cabin of the vehicle and the sound associated with the airbag deployment can cause long-term damage to the driver and/or front seat passenger of the vehicle. The level of sound a deployed airbag produces varies based on the vehicle. However, many mainstream studies assert that the noise generated by airbag deployment can reach up to 178 decibels. The CDC maintains anything over 140 decibels can cause permanent, severe hearing loss.

Diagnosing Tinnitus

You can typically self-diagnose this injury, if you look know what to listen for. Although tinnitus is commonly thought of as a ringing sound, many people hear other noises as a result of their hearing loss. These include:

  • Buzzing
  • Hissing
  • Humming
  • Clicking
  • Roaring
  • Whistling

We recently handled a case where a client suffered traumatic hearing loss from an airbag deployment that left him hearing the following sound.


There is no cure for this condition, so sufferers usually have to learn to adjust to the constant presence of the sound. Doctors suggest using white noise machines to distract the mind. Unfortunately, this injury can last a lifetime, so the focus becomes masking the sound.

Damages for Tinnitus after a Car Accident

After an accident, a victim can sue for compensatory damages (monetary compensation for your losses) of different types.

  • Medical Bills: Perhaps the most common form of damages, medical expenses are frequently a large financial strain on the victim. Medical damages will cover the cost of the immediate treatment. In some cases, an experienced personal Injury attorney can obtain future expenses for continuing and lifelong treatment.
  • Lost Wages: Accident victims who need time off to recover from their injuries entirely can sue for lost wages. For the more extreme cases, such as long-term disability, or being forced to change careers entirely, you may be entitled to the loss of future income as a result of your injuries.
  • Pain and Suffering: Damages that compensate victims for emotional distress. These are non-economic results of an accident that leave victims with long-lasting trauma.
  • Punitive Damages: A form of compensation awarded to the victim of personal injury assessed solely to punish the defendant. These damages are uncommon, as the victim must prove the offender’s intent or willful misconduct. 

Filing a Personal Injury Claim

Navigating the legal system after a crash should be the last thing on your mind. Hiring an attorney will ensure you get the best settlement possible. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Maginnis Howard offer free consultations for personal injury cases. In preparation for a meeting with a lawyer, you should prepare to share details of the case and potential documents such as bills, medical records, and evidence relevant to your claim. 

If we can help, your attorney will guide you through the process of filing a claim, reaching a settlement or in some cases, even going to trial. You can contact our lead personal injury attorney Shawn Howard by calling our office at (919) 526-0450 or submit an email request through our contact page.