£13,500 awarded for acoustic shock
The claimant, identified as S, was the director of a local Citizens' Advice Bureau. She was aged 28 at the date of the road traffic accident and 29 at trial, suffered tinnitus and whiplash injuries to her neck and back when she was involved in a collision.
The airbag in S's car's had deployed and the resulting explosive noise and impact of her head hitting the airbag caused S to develop tinnitus. The judge accepted the ENT surgeon's description of the tinnitus as "severe" and found that, although the tinnitus only affected the right ear, the loss of amenity would be similar to that from a bilateral injury. There was no associated deafness.
The tinnitus adversely affected S's sleep, which affected her relationship with her partner. She suffered from a lack of concentration at work, was unable to listen to her iPod, and found it difficult to undertake normal daily tasks such as shopping, eating out, going to clubs and bars or anywhere with background music playing.
An award of £13,500 was made, including an apportionment towards tinnitus retraining sessions which might help S to deal better with the symptoms.
The judge stated that the JSB Guidelines (6th edition), Chapter 4(B)(d), was of some help in assessing damages, although given that the Guidelines were focused on noise-induced deafness and that there was no deafness in this case, he was not bound by the categories.
S also suffered whiplash injuries to her neck and back. A full recovery from these injuries was made within 8-12 months of the accident.