Loss of Hearing
Auditory or hearing loss can have a significant impact on the life of a plaintiff. Experts categorize hearing losses as either conduction, sensorineural, combination and external ear. A conduction loss usually involves the outer, middle ear or both. It does not involve the inner ear. These can be caused by a foreign body being inserted in the ear or from trauma to the tympatic membrane or infections. Surgery or antibiotics are usually the treatment of choice. Sensorineural loss usually results from a disease of the inner ear and therefore is usually not an element of damage in an automobile accident case. A combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss is possible and if it can be traced to an accident it can be part of the damage claim. External ear hearing loss problems can be caused by trauma. Treatment can be by antibiotics or surgery, depending on each case.
Hearing loss that affects learning at a young age can be particularly problematical. It can affect the entire life of the minor. In an adult, if hearing is an integral part of the person's employment, the consequences of hearing loss can be very devastating. Indeed, such loss could prevent the learning of new vocational skills thereby causing significant loss of earning capacity.
Finally, hearing loss can cause significant psychological damage to an individual as well. Some people do not want to wear a hearing aid, assuming such a device would even be helpful. The ability to communicate is affected which can be embarrassing. The cure for any hearing loss can be very expensive and should be included in any damage assessment.
There are evidentiary problems with proving hearing loss as well. Clearly an expert witness will have to perform a battery of tests to establish the level of haring loss. A vocational expert may be required to prove the jobs that are available in the national economy for a person with hearing loss. Any employer who hired a person with a hearing loss may have to make accommodations for that person so that he or she could adequately perform his or her job properly. There may be a need for persons in the job place to be able to communicate by sign language. There may need to be someone skilled in lip reading. In some instances, communication may need to be done in writing. Regardless, hiring a person with a loss of hearing does have built in challenges that any employer will consider.
The quality of life is very much impacted by a loss of hearing. If the hearing loss can be causally related to an accidental injury, the injured party will need to be able to communicate the full extent of what things in life he or she is no longer able to do or at least not be able to do with the same level of enjoyment as a person with full hearing. Therefore, it becomes necessary for the injured party to prove the loss of hearing by expert testimony, but also the loss of enjoyment in life by real life examples.