If you have suffered a severe ear injury because of someone else’s negligence, you want to know the potential settlement amount of our case.
This page helps you better understand the range of potential settlement compensation payouts for your ear injury claim.
- Our lawyers provide more information on the settlement value of hearing loss cases
- 3M earplug lawsuit
The ear is a complicated instrument, responsible for various functions in the body. Injuries that affect the outer, middle, or inner ear could result in vastly different symptoms. These injuries include hearing loss, dizziness, or increased sensitivity to sound. In cases involving an ear injury, getting specific is important.
There is no one-size-fits-all estimation for the value of an ear injury claim. So we have to consider the symptoms, type of injury, severity, available treatments, recovery potential, and mechanism of injury for each case.
With that in mind, this article will explore the different types of ear injuries that could arise from an auto accident or another traumatic event and provide examples of trial verdicts and settlements for cases involving ear injuries.
In addition to the type and severity of the ear damage, these sample cases will give you a sense of how to claim value can also vary based on jurisdiction, the severity of any additional injuries, and a multitude of other factors. A larger hole or tear in the eardrum often coincides with more significant hearing loss.
Most of the time, the hearing loss is temporary and will subside after the eardrum heals on its own. Sometimes, in severe cases, doctors place a medicated bandage over the perforation to help it heal or surgically patch the tear.
Hearing impairment may be permanent in cases where scar tissue forms over the eardrum. The following verdicts and settlements are examples of what to expect from a middle ear injury or perforated eardrum claim resulting from an auto accident.
The peripheral vestibular system in the inner ear helps the brain and body understand how to move in relation to gravity.
The inner ears are essentially a system of fluid-filled chambers. These chambers are often referred to as a “labyrinth.” They help regulate balance, head movement, and eye motion. Injuries to the inner ear, therefore, can cause vertigo, dizziness, unsteadiness, unclear vision, or neck pain.
The temporal bone, the firmest bone in the body, surrounds and protects the sensitive mechanisms within the inner ear. Inner ear balance can start to decline with age, but for the most part, it takes a severe traumatic injury to break the temporal bone and affect the inner ear.
In the event of any kind of head trauma, including a car crash or a sports injury, patients should be monitored for the symptoms of inner ear damage. The inner ear also includes the cochlea, a highly sensitive organ for hearing.
After sound vibrates through the eardrum and the three middle ear bones, it passes into the spiral-shaped cochlea. This causes the tiny hairs lining the cochlea to move. The hair cells turn this movement into chemical signals for the hearing nerve. The cochlea, just like the peripheral vestibular system, can be injured from head trauma.
But in addition, the tiny hairs in the cochlea can be damaged and flattened by a sudden loud noise. Noise trauma can cause increased sensitivity to sound, hearing loss, or tinnitus (ringing in the ear). The verdicts and settlement below highlight several examples of inner ear damage in car accident claims, including damage to the peripheral vestibular system and to the cochlea.
Temporal Bone Fracture
Temporal bone fractures can occur due to head trauma and can involve injury to the inner ear. The temporal bone is located at the base of the skull. It is responsible for protecting the middle and inner ear, as well as the facial nerves. Again, the inner ear is responsible for hearing and balance, and contains the cochlea and semicircular canals.
The temporal bone is a robust structure situated at the base of the skull. The skull’s base has various openings, as depicted in the images below, that generate regions of reduced resistance vulnerable to physical injury.
Blunt head injury is typically the cause of temporal bone trauma, and it frequently occurs alongside other bodily injuries in patients. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause, while falls and gunshot wounds are less common contributors.
Fractures of the temporal bone can cause a range of ear injuries, including damage to the tympanic membrane (eardrum), ossicles (tiny bones in the middle ear), cochlea, and vestibular system (which helps you maintain balance). Symptoms of a temporal bone fracture may include hearing loss, vertigo, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), facial weakness, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leakage from the ear.
Treatment of a temporal bone fracture depends on the extent and location of the injury. In some cases, observation and pain management may be all that is required, while in more severe cases surgery may be necessary to repair damage to the middle or inner ear. Rehabilitation and ongoing monitoring may also be required to manage symptoms and ensure that the ear is functioning properly.
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the jawbone to the skull, acting like a sliding hinge between the mandible and the temporal bone. Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) are primarily considered to cause jaw pain. But because of its close proximity to the inner ear, TMJ dysfunction can also cause hearing impairment or balance issues.
The pain or jaw tenderness, difficulty chewing, or locking of the joint that are characteristic of TMD can be caused by a variety of naturally occurring factors, such as disc erosion, arthritis, or chronic teeth clenching, but up to 99 percent of TMD cases involve some kind of injury. The type of head trauma that occurs during a car accident often results in TMD.
Whiplash, in particular, can cause TMD by stretching or tearing muscles connected to the TMJ. When whiplash occurs, the jaw is yanked open as the head is thrown back, and then the jaw snaps shut when the head is thrown forward. This violent and sudden motion can damage soft tissue in and around the TMJ, which causes the TMJ to swell and impact the inner ear.
As many as 87 percent of people who suffer whiplash injure their TMJ and are therefore at risk for ear damage. Even though TMJ is such a prevalent side-effect of whiplash, and ear injuries are a common complication of TMD, whiplash victims’ complaints of dizziness or hearing impairment often go unreported, untreated, and unconnected to their TMD.
In the most serious auto accidents with severe head injuries, TMD and ear injuries are often correlated because the same blow can cause both.
Because the TMJ is located right under the inner ear structures, an impact that breaks the jaw or misaligns the TMJ could easily have enough force to break the temporal bone and damage the inner ear.
TMD-related ear injuries often occur as one small part of a larger head trauma, so it is difficult to isolate the value of a TMD-related ear injury from the other injuries that result from a car accident.
The following examples of auto accident verdicts and settlements can help paint a picture of how the value of a TMD-related ear injury claim can vary based on the other injuries sustained by the car crash victim.
Primary Auditory Cortex
The primary auditory cortex is not a type of ear injury. But damage to this area of the brain can significantly impact a person’s ability to hear. The primary auditory cortex is responsible for processing sound information and interpreting it for the brain to comprehend. If this area is damaged, it can result in hearing difficulties, including trouble distinguishing between sounds, difficulty understanding speech, and an overall reduction in hearing ability.
Damage to the primary auditory cortex, which is located in the temporal lobe of the brain, can result in difficulty with sound perception and recognition and may cause problems with speech comprehension. Damage to the secondary auditory cortex, which is also located in the temporal lobe, can affect higher-level processing of sound, such as the ability to distinguish between different sounds and to detect changes in sound patterns.
In addition to hearing-related deficits, damage to the auditory cortex can also affect other aspects of brain function, such as language, memory, and attention. For example, individuals with damage to the auditory cortex may experience difficulty with speech production and may have trouble understanding language, even if their hearing is intact.
Causes of auditory cortex damage can include traumatic brain injury, stroke, infection, tumors, and degenerative disorders. Treatment for auditory cortex damage typically involves rehabilitation and therapy to help individuals adapt to their hearing-related deficits and learn to communicate effectively.
Mass Torts Involving Ear Injuries
There are currently two product liability mass torts in which ear injuries (specifically the loss of hearing or tinnitus) are the primary injury alleged by the plaintiffs. Our firm is currently accepting cases for both of these mass torts from qualified plaintiffs.
The first is the 3M earplug class action lawsuit which has been going on since 2019 and currently includes over 260,000 active plaintiffs. The plaintiffs in the 3M cases are primarily military veterans who were issued 3M’s Combat Arms earplugs to protect their hearing during their time in the military. The plaintiffs allege that 3M’s earplugs were defective and failed to protect their ears from the harmful effects of loud noise and that they suffered permanent hearing loss as a result.
The other ongoing mass tort involving allegations of hearing loss involves the prescription drug Tepezza which is used for the treatment of thyroid eye disease. The plaintiffs in the Tepezza lawsuits allege that adverse immune reactions to the Tepezza infusions caused them to suffer permanent hearing damage (and/or tinnitus).
Ear Injury Settlement Amounts
Below are examples of ear and hearing injury settlements and verdicts.
- $250,000 – Verdict (Alabama 2022): plaintiff suffered an injury to his inner ear and other soft tissue injuries when the defendant ran a stop sign and T-bone the plaintiff’s vehicle at an intersection. Plaintiff was a lawyer and claimed that the ear injury diminished his ability to practice law.
- $40,000 – Settlement (New Jersey 2022): toddler at Montessori Academy suffered burns and damage to his right ear when hot milk was accidentally spilled on him by the teacher.
- $350,000 – Verdict (New York 2022): male infant (age 22 months) suffered a total loss of hearing in his left ear and required surgical reconstruction of his ear canal after the pediatrician’s office negligently failed to diagnose and treat his ear chronic infections and misdiagnosing him with another condition.
- $30,000 – Verdict (Indiana 2021): plaintiff allegedly suffered injuries to his ear and neck when the defendant negligently merged into his lane on the highway and caused a collision.
- $6,825,000 – Settlement (New York 2020): A 50-something man was installing tiles from an unsecured eight-foot ladder. As he tried to get onto an unlocked Baker’s scaffold, it shifted. He fell to the ground and struck his head. The man suffered a skull fracture, a ruptured eardrum, and an unnamed condition that prevented him from closing his eyelids. He needed surgery to treat all these conditions. The man was left with cognitive deficits, including memory, concentration, and balance issues. He was unable to return to work. His family testified that whether he spoke in his native Turkish or English, he was sometimes unintelligible. He is also permanently required to take anti-seizure medications. The case settled for $6,825,000.
- $350,000 Settlement (Washington 2019): A 62-year-old man was struck while cycling. He suffered a traumatic brain injury, a front skull contusion, memory loss, inner ear problems, tinnitus, vertigo, a neck fracture, and multiple soft-tissue injuries. The man alleged that the tortfeasor’s failure to yield the right-of-way caused his injuries. This case settled for $350,000.
- $20,393 Settlement (Idaho 2019): Two women, one of them in her 80s while the other was in her 60s, were in a vehicle that was rear-ended by a driver who fell asleep at the wheel. The woman in her 80s suffered a concussion, inner ear pressure and pain, and soft-tissue injuries to her hip, neck, back, left wrist, and right hand. She sought an ENT and a chiropractor for her injuries. Her settlement awarded totaled $10,342. The woman in her 60s suffered soft tissue injuries to her ribs, right shoulder, left ear, neck, and back. She only sought chiropractic care. Her settlement award totaled $9,951. The total settlement amounted to $20,393.
- $300,00 Settlement (New York 2019): A rock became lodged in a 3-year-old boy’s right ear canal. An ENT perforated the boy’s eardrum during surgery to remove the rock. As a result, the boy suffered mild hearing loss. Still, it is a 3-year-old with a permanent injury which is awful. His mother claimed the ENT used improper removal techniques and failed to administer general anesthesia. The ENT denied liability. He argued he met the standard of care. This case settled for $300,000.
- $25,000 Settlement (New York 2019): An 11-year-old boy was struck by a vehicle after he exited a school bus. He suffered a traumatic brain injury that resulted in retrograde amnesia. The boy also ruptured his eardrum and accumulated fluid in his middle ear. His father claimed that the vehicle’s driver was responsible for his medical bills. The parties settled for $25,000.
- $42,000 Verdict (Texas 2019): A motorcyclist suffered a ruptured eardrum and a bruised kidney after a vehicle struck him. A Dallas jury awarded $42,000.
- $34,000 Settlement (New York 2018): A minor passenger was rear-ended. He suffered jaw fractures, sinusitis, right mastoid effusion, a lip laceration, and a cheek abrasion. His mother alleged that the other driver’s negligence caused his injuries. This case settled for $34,000.
- $100,000 Verdict (New York 2018): A minor pedestrian was struck at an intersection. He suffered a concussion, temporomandibular joint capsulitis, left meniscus tears, hearing loss, tinnitus, scalp abrasions, nasal abrasions, disc bulges, and facial scars. His parents claimed the driver negligently ran a red light and failed to yield the right-of-way. The driver denied liability. He argued comparative negligence. The jury found the driver 60 percent negligent and the minor 40 percent negligent. They awarded a $100,000 verdict.
- $4,000,000 Settlement (Massachusetts 2018): A 51-year-old fisherman slipped and fell on the deck of his employer’s vessel. He suffered a traumatic brain injury, a concussion, decreased cognition, and post-concussive syndrome. The man also suffered inner ear damage. He alleged that his employer’s vessel was unseaworthy because the deck was unsafe. His employer denied these allegations, contending that the man slipped on a skate fish rather than slipping on only the deck. This case settled for $4,000,000.
- $22,500 Settlement (New York 2017): When a boy’s bicycle collided with the defendant’s vehicle, he suffered a perforated eardrum and ossicular chain discontinuity, or the separation of his middle ear bones. He also suffered a fractured nose, a concussion, and superficial lacerations. His perforated eardrum required surgery to repair it, and he was left with a small facial scar. (I have no clue why the settlement was so low in this case.)
- $35,000 Arbitration (Oregon 2017): A woman was sideswiped. She suffered a TMJ injury, left ear hearing loss, a chest contusion, whiplash, and lumbar radiculopathy. The woman underwent epidural steroid injections. She alleged that the other driver’s negligent lane change caused her injuries. Following arbitration, the woman received $35,000.
- $35,000 Settlement (California 2016): A seat belt malfunction during a chain-reaction collision caused a boy to suffer a ruptured left eardrum, bleeding in the ear, TMD, temporal bone fractures, mouth lesions, memory loss, vertigo, headaches, hearing loss, depression, and emotional distress. The settlement amount, for some reason we cannot understand here, was only $35,000.
- $15,000 Verdict (Maryland 2014): A 32-year-old male was driving the middle car of a three-car pileup. The defendant’s vehicle rear-ended him with enough force to push the plaintiff’s car into the vehicle in front of him. As a result of the accident, he suffered a ruptured eardrum, left ear tinnitus, and post-traumatic headaches, as well as left shoulder, arm, and back strains, and bruising on his chest and shoulder. His jury award included $5,200 for pain and suffering, $6,200 for past medical costs, and $3,600 for past loss of wages. (Tinnitus is sometimes hard to prove in these types of cases.)
- $262,601 Verdict (California 2013): The plaintiff sustained a vestibular injury to her inner ear, as well as ongoing problems with her cervical spine, left shoulder regions, and head and body aches when her vehicle was rear-ended on a city street. Her inner ear injury affected her balance and equilibrium, causing her to experience dizziness, vertigo, and decreased depth perception. The plaintiff’s verdict included $50,727 for past medical expenses, $15,000 for future medical expenses, $71,874 for lost wages, $25,000 for future loss of wages, and $75,000 for pain and suffering.
- $375,000 Settlement (New Jersey 2011): A Mack truck struck a 50-year-old driver in the rear of her vehicle. The impact blew out the back window of her car. She felt like an explosion had occurred, and she struck the left side of her head against the driver’s side door. She developed persistent headaches and vertigo shortly after the collision, and her diagnosis included middle ear fistulas or a tear in the oval window that separates the air-filled middle ear from the fluid-filled inner ear. She underwent left-sided surgery, but the severe dizziness soon returned. I believe that the plaintiff also suffered TMJ dysfunction that required dental surgery, as well as anxiety and depression. So, without knowing all the facts, this TMJ truck accident settlement seems low.
- $75,000 Settlement (Michigan 2008): The 15-year-old male plaintiff was riding as a passenger when his vehicle struck the rear of another vehicle at an intersection. The plaintiff sustained a perforated eardrum during the collision and suffered partial hearing loss as a result.
- $375,000 Settlement (Tennessee 2007): A 17-year-old female suffered a closed head injury and a ruptured eardrum when her bicycle was struck by a tractor-trailer. Her head injury resulted in pneumocephalus (air in her brain) and her ear injury required surgery and resulted in permanent right ear hearing loss.
Hiring a Lawyer to Fight Your Injury Claim
If you have cosmetic auricle damage, tinnitus, a perforated eardrum, labyrinthine vertigo, TMD-related ear damage, or any other type of ear injury, you need the best possible lawyer to help you get what you deserve.
Settlement amounts for ear injury cases vary wildly. This is sometimes because of the quality of the victim’s legal counsel. We have handled many of these cases, and we know how to fight to get as much compensation for ear injury victims as we possibly can. Call our Baltimore-based law firm at 800-553-8082 or get a free claim evaluation online.
FAQs: Ear Injury & Hearing Loss Value
What is a vestibular ear injury?
A vestibular injury occurs when the vestibulocochlear nerve in the inner ear becomes swollen which distorts the way sound information is transmitted to the brain. Our lawyers see many vestibular injuries after car accidents. Our clients often have acute dizziness, vertigo, and disorientation. Vestibular injuries are generally caused by viral infections.
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a condition in which a person experiences continuous ringing (or other type of noise) in their ears. Tinnitus is most often caused by ear damage from exposure to extremely loud noise levels. However, it can also be the result of other health conditions including heart disease, ear infections, and thyroid abnormalities.
What is vertigo?
Vertigo is a condition in which a person experiences severe dizziness and physical disorientation. Auditory vertigo is a type of vertigo that is caused by persistent ringing or tinnitus in the ears.
Car accident settlements for vertigo vary with the severity and the length of the condition.
Find a Personal Injury Lawyer for Your Claim
If you were in a car accident and may have an ear or hearing-related injury, our lawyers may be able to help you. Call us at 800-553-8082 or get a free consultation online.
Sources for Some of the Science
“What to do About Ear Trauma” from The Canadian Journal of Diagnosis
The article discusses temporal bone trauma, which is often caused by blunt head injuries and can lead to complications such as intracranial hemorrhage, meningitis, hearing loss, and facial paralysis. As we talked about above, car accidents are the most common cause of temporal bone trauma, with falls and gunshot wounds also causing these injuries. Diagnosis relies on physical signs and radiographic imaging, and prompt and appropriate medical and surgical management is critical to prevent complications. Children generally recover from temporal bone trauma with fewer complications than adults.
“Eardrum Rupture” from HealthLine
The article discusses the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for a ruptured eardrum. A ruptured eardrum can be caused by various factors such as infections, sudden changes in air pressure, and trauma. The symptoms of a ruptured eardrum include pain, hearing loss, ringing in the ear, and sometimes discharge from the ear. Treatment options include antibiotics, pain relievers, and ear drops. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the eardrum.
Ear Trauma” from EarHelp
This article discusses ear trauma, which can be caused by various factors including a direct blow to the ear, exposure to loud noise, pressure changes, and foreign objects in the ear. Ear trauma can result in various complications such as hearing loss, tinnitus, dizziness, and ear infections. Treatment depends on the type and severity of the injury and may include medication, ear drops, surgery, or other procedures. Prevention measures, such as wearing ear protection and avoiding loud noises, are also important to reduce the risk of ear trauma.
“TMJ Disorders” from the Mayo Clinic
This article talks about how TMJ disorders can cause pain and discomfort in the jaw joint and in the muscles that control jaw movement. The exact cause of TMJ disorders is often unknown, but potential factors include jaw injuries, arthritis, teeth grinding, and stress. Common symptoms of TMJ disorders include jaw pain, tenderness in the face, earaches, headaches, and difficulty opening or closing the mouth. Treatment options for TMJ disorders include pain management, self-care measures such as jaw exercises and stress management, and in severe cases, surgery.
How TMD Can Affect Your Hearing from MedCenter TMJ
This article discusses the relationship between temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) and hearing loss. It explains that the TMJ is located near the ear and that TMD can cause pain, inflammation, and dysfunction in the jaw joint and surrounding muscles, which can result in ear symptoms such as tinnitus and hearing loss. The article also notes that some TMD treatments, such as splints and orthodontics, can improve ear symptoms, and that patients with TMD and hearing loss should be evaluated by an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist to rule out other potential causes of hearing loss.
The Effects of Whiplash from MedCenter TMJ
The article discusses the impact of whiplash on TMJ health. It explains how whiplash – despite what defense lawyers think – can cause TMJ disorders and their associated symptoms, such as jaw pain, headaches, and difficulty in opening the mouth. The article also highlights the importance of getting a proper diagnosis and treatment for TMJ disorders caused by whiplash, including physical therapy, medication, and splints. It also emphasizes the role of preventive measures, such as seat belts and proper headrests, in minimizing the risk of whiplash and its impact on TMJ health.
“Temporomandibular Joint Disorder” from Cedars-Sinai
TMD occurs when there is a problem with the jaw, jaw muscles, and surrounding nerves and tissues. Symptoms of TMD include jaw pain or tenderness, pain in the ear, facial pain, clicking or popping noises when opening the mouth, difficulty chewing or biting, and headaches. Causes of TMD include teeth grinding, arthritis, injury, stress, and poor posture. Treatment options for TMD include self-care measures such as jaw exercises, applying ice or heat, and avoiding hard or crunchy foods, as well as medications, dental treatments, and surgery in severe cases.