Solicitor and Managing Partner
Losing the ability to hear partially or totally can be debilitating to our personal and professional lives. Damaging or losing this vital sense can make socialising, working, commuting and many other routine tasks much more difficult.
While some degree of deafness is likely to come with age, there are instances where people have suffered hearing loss as a result of medical negligence. Coming to terms with hearing loss can already be difficult, and knowing this could have been prevented can make it even harder to accept.
In this article, we will discuss how medical negligence can result in the loss of hearing, the impact this can have on your life, and how you can seek compensation that will help secure your future.
Loss of hearing occurs when sound signals cannot reach the brain, whether as a result of nerve damage or sound being unable to pass through one or both ears.
An individual may lose their ability to hear high tones, low tones or, in rare and serious cases, all sound frequencies. The varying degrees of hearing loss are classified in the UK by the British Society of Audiology as follows:
Mild hearing loss describes a decibel (dB) hearing level between 21 - 40 dB
Moderate hearing loss encompasses a hearing level between 41 - 70 dB
Severe hearing loss is denoted by a hearing level of between 71 - 95 dB
Profound hearing loss is at a level of 95 dB and above
According to a recent survey, more than 1.5 billion people around the world live with some form of hearing loss.
While age-related hearing loss is common, there are multiple other ways that the ear can be damaged. Some of these include:
Occupational deafness, brought on by working near loud sounds over time
Physical head injuries that can damage the eardrum and middle ear
Noise-induced hearing loss, caused by prolonged exposure to excessive noise levels
Infections and diseases, such as otosclerosis and ménière's disease
Mistakes during surgery and treatment
Although hearing loss can be the consequence of ageing, injuries or long-term exposure to loud noises, it may also be caused by the actions or inactions of medical professionals. While rare, mistakes can and do happen, and may have a devastating effect on a person’s hearing.
If a medical professional fails to recognise the symptoms of bacterial meningitis and so prescribes the wrong or no medication, the cochlea can become infected, leading to total or partial deafness in one or both of the ears.
Whether it's ear canal surgery or cochlear implants, many procedures and surgeries come with associated risks. If a doctor or surgeon fails to make the patient aware of the potential hazards associated with a procedure, this may be grounds to start a claim.
In addition to this, if a surgeon’s focus lapses for a moment during an operation or routine procedure, they can perforate the eardrum, damage nerves, and permanently impact a patient’s spectrum of hearing.
Antibiotics are common remedies for ear infections as well as other illnesses and ailments. However, if certain drugs such as gentamicin go unmonitored, excess levels of this substance in the body can cause sudden hearing loss.
Total or partial deafness can be an overwhelming and unpleasant experience for anyone, and present numerous challenges for the future:
Joining and holding conversations, especially in busy and noisy spaces, is harder
Music and television shows have to be played louder, or become completely inaudible
Isolation and social withdrawal can set in as social events are less accessible
Commuting and travelling independently is more challenging and dangerous
Future work opportunities may be harder to come by
Ultimately, when living with hearing loss, it is likely you will have to rely on other people more than you may be used to, limiting your independence.
Because of this, it can be common for people whose hearing has been damaged to feel isolated, angry and depressed, especially if the injury could have been prevented. Their world shrinks and some of life’s pleasures, like films and music, are no longer as straightforward or enjoyable as before.
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While hearing loss compensation may not be able to turn back the clock and prevent the initial injury from occurring, it can go a long way in helping restore your confidence and independence.
Following a successful hearing loss claim, the compensation you receive can help cover a variety of costs, including:
Hearing aids, cochlear implants or other restorative treatment
Adaptations to your home or vehicles
Care assistance at home or in the community
Sign language courses
At Gadsby Wicks, we will work closely with you and relevant medical experts to assess what your specific needs are due to your loss of hearing, and use this information to calculate a fitting amount of compensation to support you in the future.
Because compensation claims differ from case to case, it is impossible to accurately forecast the amount you can expect to receive without first speaking to specialist medical negligence solicitors.
Factors that may influence the value of compensation you are awarded following a successful claim include:
The extent of the loss of your hearing
Your occupation and salary
Whether you live alone or with others
The day-to-day impact of your deafness
The same injury could result in very different amounts of compensation depending on the claimant’s circumstances. For example, a claimant who works in a call centre may lose their job as a result of their hearing loss, leading to a greater loss of earnings when compared with someone whose role is less reliant on their ability to hear and communicate.
To accurately quantify the amount of compensation you deserve, we work alongside experts in audiovestibular medicine to determine the scale of your hearing loss, the impact that the medical oversight may have had, as well as the precise cause of your deafness.
Partial, total or sudden hearing loss is an overwhelming experience that can severely impact your quality of life. If this was brought on while under the supervision of medical professionals, it can make a bad situation even more difficult to come to terms with.
Gadsby Wicks are experts in medical injury litigation. With our exceptional team of clinical claims specialists and over 25 years of experience, we devote the time and resources necessary to fully investigate what happened to you, and make sure you receive the compensation you need to secure your future.
We tirelessly assess every piece of evidence in your case, from photos to testimony, while also consulting the opinion and expertise of relevant medical professionals.
We offer our service on a ‘No Win, No Fee’ basis
96% of our claims are settled without going to trial
We have access to in-house medical professionals to assist with your case
You are assigned one solicitor to oversee your claim from start to finish
If you or a loved one has suffered from hearing loss and you believe a medical mistake is to blame, don't wait to act. Contact us today for a free consultation and we can help you start your claims process and pursue your right to justice.
This blog is not to be used as a substitute for medical advice. If you require more information about hearing loss, seek help from your doctor or GP.
Gadsby Wicks is not liable for any diagnosis made from the content of this article, nor does it endorse any service or external site linked to within the article.
Always consult your GP if you are concerned about your health and wellbeing, or speak to us if you require legal advice.
If you or a loved one have experienced hearing loss due to negligence and would like to speak to someone about your options, our team is here to listen and advise you on your next steps