Loss of Sight and Smell
Another area of significant concern to a client is any damage to or loss of sight, hearing, smell, and taste. Usually, when one loses the sense of smell they also lose the sense of taste as both are very close to each other. Unless one loses these, it is difficult to imagine just how much they contribute to an enjoyable life. Experts agree that the cause of permanent smell and/or taste loss means damage to the first cranial nerve. These can be caused by falls or injuries to the back of the head. These type of injuries can easily occur in a slip and fall, rear end automobile accident or a fall from a height. One concern with the loss of smell is the concern about harmful odors and the inability to taste tainted food. An injured client who loses the sense of smell or taste may never be able to work in a factory or industry where certain odors prevail. In addition to a loss of possible earnings, the person would also suffer human losses consistent with never being able to smell enjoyable odors again. This could include such things as tasty foods, perfumes, and colognes. This could also cause psychological injury as well as physical injury. Temporary losses of these senses are common in accident cases, more common than some people realize.Loss of Sight
Visual impairments can be caused by accidents. Whether the impairment is visual function, binocular visual functioning, ocular motility or color perception the condition can have lasting effects on an individual. There are essentially six different impairments that can be caused by injuries to the eye: corneal abrasions, lacerations, retinal detachment, burns, cataracts and glaucoma and oculomotor injuries.
A corneal abrasion can lead to visual impairment and eventually to blindness. A lesser degree of corneal abrasion usually causes loss of vision for up to six weeks. In a more severe case, loss of vision can be permanent and the maximum medical improvement is thought to be determined in approximately 3 months.
Lacerations, depending on the severity, can result in varying degrees of damage and disability. Lacerations to the eyelids can be dangerous as well because scar tissue can form causing problems with closing the eyelid.
Retinal detachment can be caused by laceration, a blow to the head or penetration of an object into the eye. Surgery is possible and in many cases can correct a detached retina. The prognosis without surgery is not very good according to the experts.
Burns from ultraviolet light or some bright tool or piece of equipment that refracts very bright light can cause burns to and damage to the eye. Unfortunately, if this occurs, there are no known modalities that can cure the ensuing damage. Not only is there significant pain involved but permanent vision loss to some degree is a likely result.
Although usually not induced by a traumatic event, it may be possible to have a cataract or glaucoma result from an accident. The experienced trial lawyer will need to be very sure he can prove to a reasonable degree of medical probability that there is a causal connection between the trauma and the cataract or glaucoma diagnosis.
Oculomotor injuries cause the eyes to not move together spontaneously in a coordinated effort. This can cause loss of central vision or a visual field in either eye.
Legal blindness is usually considered when a person has less than 20/200 corrected vision. In these situations, the injured person will need very specific and specialized assistance. Visual aids can be extremely expensive and need to be considered as part of damages. Clearly, loss of vision can also lead to significant psychological issues as well. In the right case, perhaps the courts will even entertain future mental suffering even if there is not present mental suffering since emotional consequences routinely follow loss of vision.