permanent, there is very little that any gadget can do. But Advanced Bionics’ cochlear implant was different. This device, when implanted in the skull, could supposedly restore lost hearing. Unfortunately, in many cases, these devices turned out like so many others. The manufacturer made big promises, and the gadgets failed to deliver.
At Napoli Shkolnik, our New York defective cochlear implant lawyers take the opposite approach. We never promise anything other than our best effort for you. Usually, that’s enough to produce results that exceed our clients’ expectations. We work hard, we never stop fighting for you, and we let our results speak for themselves. Because we work so hard, we can usually settle defective cochlear implant claims out of court and on victim-friendly financial terms.
Hearing Loss: A Closer Look
About 48 million Americans suffer from permanent hearing loss. In most cases, the medical problem has an emotional effect. Many hearing loss victims feel socially isolated from friends and family, so they are prone to fits of depression and anger.
Frequently, hearing loss is either a genetic or a work-related condition. Occupational hearing loss is one of the most common occupational diseases. Extended exposure to sounds as low as 80 decibels, which is the equivalent of a lawnmower or a movie theater sound system, causes permanent hearing loss.
Typically, workers’ compensation pays both medical bills and lost wages in occupational disease cases. Commonly, the lost wages benefit takes the form of a lump-sum payment, because the victim is permanently disabled, at least to some extent. And, the medical bill benefit extends to all reasonably necessary expenses. So, job injury victims get the hearing aids they need, and not the hearing aids the insurance company is willing to pay for.
Workers’ compensation are no-fault cases. Victims simply must establish cause to obtain compensation. A New York defective cochlear implant lawyer can make this showing, even if the victim had a pre-existing condition.
Defective implant cases work a bit differently, as outlined below. Generally, these victims are entitled to substantial compensation, in addition to the aforementioned medical bills and other economic losses.
How the Cochlear Implant Works
As mentioned, most hearing aids amplify sounds. Cochlear implants replicate sound. They use electrodes to stimulate auditory nerves. Most of these gadgets have two components: an external sound processor and an internal electrode array. Essentially, the sound processor sends signals to the implanted electrodes which then stimulate the nerve accordingly. At least, that’s how it works in theory.
The implants in the Nucleus class are designed to simulate sound for patients whose ears have been damaged by long-term hearing loss. Advanced Bionics also makes BAHA (bone-anchored hearing aids). These devices are even more advanced. They can help people with chronic serious conditions, like malformed ears, single-sided deafness, or chronically-draining ears, hear again. BAHAs send sound vibrations through the skull and directly to the inner ear.
Cochlear Implant Defects
As one might expect, both these devices have a lot of moving parts, and a lot can go wrong. For example, a magnet connects the sound processor and the electrode array. Prior to an MRI, a tech uses a wrap kit to prevent the MRI’s magnet from disrupting the cochlear magnet. If the wrap kit is even slightly too weak, the MRI literally pulls the electrode array out of the patient’s skull. The resulting damage is catastrophic, and revision surgery is often difficult or impossible.
Moisture accumulation is a problem as well, particularly among active patients. Even a trace amount of sweat or other moisture is usually enough to damage the delicate circuitry and require immediate revision surgery.
Transparent sleeves only cost a few dollars. They completely protect against moisture accumulation and do not interfere with the implant’s auditory functions. But Advanced Bionics refused to make this change, although the manufacturer knew about these defects as early as 2003. After a brief retooling period, the company started selling implants again, but they suffered from the same flaw. In 2008, Advanced Bionics quietly paid a $1.1 million fine, admitted no liability, and kept selling defective cochlear implants in New York. The company has been in and out of court ever since.
Your Claim for Damages
Persistent flaws like moisture accumulation and magnetic disruption suggest a design defect. Frequently, designers take shortcuts to save money. By the time engineers discover the problem, the company believes it is too expensive to reinvent the wheel and make changes.
In simple terms, the company places profits before people and hopes that no one notices. But companies like Advanced Bionics did not count on running into the aggressive New York defective cochlear implant lawyers at Napoli Law.
Other defective product claims involve manufacturing defects. Certain hip implants are a good example. Some manufacturers used cheap materials which contained heavy metals. The resulting metallosis, or metal poisoning, could cause a permanent brain injury.
In both these cases, compensation often includes substantial punitive damages. These damages are available if there is clear and convincing evidence that the company intentionally disregarded a known risk.
Defective hearing implants often cause serious injury. For a free consultation with an experienced New York defective cochlear implant lawyer, contact Napoli Shkolnik PLLC. We are readily available via telephone, chat or email.