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By Ray Kahler

Can you lose your hearing from a car accident? The answer is yes. Many studies have reported profound high-frequency hearing loss and tinnitus following air bag deployment in an automotive accident.* In fact, in a study of 20 patients who sustained otological injuries resulting from airbag deployment, The Michigan Ear Institute found that 85% of the patients had hearing loss and tinnitus.** Over the decades, our experienced attorneys have represented many people who have suffered hearing loss due to a car accident or other explosive sound. If you’ve experienced tinnitus or hearing damage, you may have grounds for a tinnitus lawsuit.


What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the perception of sound that does not have an external source.  It is typically thought of as “ringing in the ears” but can take many forms. The American Tinnitus Association’s website,, has audio samples of what tinnitus patients experience. The sound can be constant or intermittent and perceived as ringing, buzzing, hissing, sizzling, roaring, chirping, or other sounds.***

What Causes Tinnitus?

Tinnitus can occur as a result of any incident that involves loud, explosive sound, as well as a result of brain injuries. The damage to the hearing system causes the auditory system to be active when it shouldn’t be (such as in quiet environments), which causes patients to perceive sounds that have no external source.

Why are My Ears Ringing After a Car Accident?

Tinnitus can be caused by the explosive sound of airbags deploying in a motor vehicle crash. People who have experienced airbags deploying compare the sound to a shotgun blast. Deployment of airbags generates a mean peak sound pressure level of 160 to 178 dB, depending on the type of airbag.**** Side airbags generate the highest sound pressure levels.

Tinnitus can be debilitating for people who experience it, depending on the severity. Tinnitus impacts quality of life, takes away the peacefulness of silence, and can make it difficult to sleep. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing victims of hearing loss and other personal injuries.


Is Tinnitus permanent?

Tinnitus sometimes goes away on its own, but there is no cure for tinnitus. Treatment is directed at helping patients manage their tinnitus and reduce the severity of the impact of tinnitus on their lives. Specialized hearing aids can mitigate the irritating effects of tinnitus, and “sound pillows,” which are pillows that have speakers, can help people fall asleep by trying to mask the irritating sound of tinnitus.

Hearing Loss Attorneys for Tinnitus Claims in Washington State

The lawyers at our firm have experience representing people who have suffered tinnitus and understand how profoundly it affects people and the treatment resources available.  If you or a family member has suffered tinnitus as a result of a car crash, explosion, or other incident, please contact us for a free consultation.


*Vol. 337 of the New England Journal of Medicine, p. 574-575 (1997) and Vol. 2012 of Case Reports in Otolaryngology, Article ID 203714.

** McFeely, et al., Airbag Deployment Study – Otologic Injuries Secondary to Airbag Deployment (1998).

*** Folmer, Martin & Shi, Tinnitus:  Questions to reveal the cause, answers to provide relief, 53 Journal of Family Practice 7, p. 532 (2004).  

**** A paper published by the Society of Automotive Engineers