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An overview of ear injuries

A personal injury to the ear could include damage to the outer ear, ear canal or eardrum and could cause temporary or permanent hearing loss. Ear injuries occur as a result of a variety of accidents including sporting accidents and accidents at work. They could be brought about by anything from a direct blow to the side of the head to an extremely loud or repetitive noise.

How an ear injury may occur

Ear injuries occur in a number of ways and as a result of a variety of accidents:

Inappropriate cleaning techniques or objects being poked forcefully into the ear, such as inserting a cotton bud too far into the ear canal can scratch the ear canal and cause bleeding or perforate the ear drum.

A direct blow to the side of the head can bruise or cause a blood clot to the outer ear, increase air pressure inside the ear canal and cause the eardrum to rupture or disrupt the tiny bones in the ear canal that transmit sound.

Excessively loud noise can increase air pressure inside the ear canal, damage the eardrum and hearing mechanisms.

Dramatic changes in atmospheric pressure can cause the Eustachian tube to compress and prevent air from entering the middle ear, leaving the middle ear unable to compensate for the change in pressure.

The difference between the pressure in the middle air and the atmosphere can cause the eardrum to rupture. Minimal pressure difference maintained for a prolonged period of time can cause the negative pressure within the middle ear to draw fluid in.

Thermal injuries such as burns or frostbite can cause significant damage to the outer ear.

Ear injury types

There are many different types of ear injury but the following are two of the most common types that occur in the UK:

Sporting injuries

ear injury

Ear injuries as a result of surfing and diving accidents are fairly common. These mostly consist of perforated ear drums caused by excessive pressure on the inner ear when diving or after being wiped off a surf board by a wave.

Surfing can also instigate a chronic condition which can decrease hearing, known as 'surfer's ear'. This is where tiny bone growths occur within the ear canal as a result of cold water, spray and wind gushing in and out of the ear.

Aggressive contact sports such as rugby, boxing and wrestling are also commonly associated with cauliflower ear. This occurs when the ear is repeatedly hit and a blood clot either forms under the skin or the ear's skin is stripped away from the cartilage. It is so called because the injury damages the shape and structure of the outside ear and leaves it covered in large lumps, much like a cauliflower.

Industrial deafness and acoustic trauma

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has found that more than 1.1 million workers are exposed to potentially damaging noise levels in their workplace and a further 170,000 already suffer from industrial deafness, tinnitus or other noise-related ear conditions.

Acoustic trauma is a type of industrial deafness caused by exposure to a sudden, extremely loud noise such as a gun shot or blast of music. This injury essentially damages the hearing mechanisms within the inner ear and is a fairly common cause of sensory hearing loss. Hearing loss is usually partial and temporary but it can be permanent in severe cases. Other symptoms such as tinnitus, a ringing in the ears, may also be experienced.

Acoustic trauma and other types of industrial deafness may be prevented by wearing ear plugs or earmuffs which guard against exposure to loud or repetitive noises.

Ear injury advice

You should seek medical attention if you sustain an ear injury, especially in the following circumstances:

A sharp foreign object has been inserted into the ear canal

You are suffering severe pain

Bleeding to the wound will not stop after 10 minutes of direct pressure

The ear skin is split open and stitches may be required

The outer ear is swollen

Clear fluid is draining from the ear canal

You are walking unsteadily and feel dizzy

Factors taken into consideration for ear injury compensation

'Deafness' refers to both partial and total hearing loss but when assessing compensation amounts the following must be considered:

Whether the injury is one that has an immediate effect, allowing no chance for the injured party to adapt, or whether it occurred over a period of time.

Whether the injury or disability was suffered at an early age and will have an effect of the injured party's speech or whether it was suffered later in life.

Whether the injury or disability affects balance.

Age is of particular relevance in cases of noise-induced hearing loss.

Ear injury and deafness compensation amounts

Slight or occasional tinnitus with slight hearing loss - £4,000 to £6,750

Mild tinnitus with some hearing loss - £6,750 to £8,000

Moderate tinnitus/hearing loss - £8,000 to £16,000

Severe tinnitus/hearing loss - £16,000 to £25,000

Total loss of hearing in one ear

Those that suffer associated problems such as tinnitus, dizziness and headaches will usually receive compensation awards towards the higher end of this bracket - £17,500 to £25,000.

Total deafness

Those that suffer tinnitus and a speech deficit will usually receive compensation amounts towards the higher end of this bracket- £50,000 to £60,000.

Total deafness and loss of speech

Usually where deafness has occurred at an early age from a rubella infection or similar and the development of normal speech has been prevented or seriously affected- £60,000 to £77,000.

Making a personal injury claim today

If you have suffered a personal injury, whether it is damage to the eardrum, industrial deafness or some other non-fault injury, you may be in a position to pursue a compensation claim.

Our personal injury solicitors have a wealth of experience and boast an exceptional excellent claim success rate which speaks for itself. They will guide you through each stage of your claim, offering free legal advice along the way, and will fight to get you the most compensation available for your type of personal injury.

We offer a no win, no fee service. This means that our clients donít pay a penny in up front costs. Whatís more, if you lose your case, you wonít pay anything at all. No win, no fee, is exactly what it sounds like.

Making a personal injury claim couldn't be easier. Just fill out our online claim form and we will return your call whenever it is convenient for you. Alternatively, give us a call today on 0800 197 32 32.