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Cochlear implants: medical device legal claims

If you are affected by a faulty cochlear implant, you may be eligible for a medical device legal claim.

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Cochlear implants are devices that can help improve the hearing of people who are deaf or severely hard of hearing. They are different to other types of hearing aids, as part of the device is surgically implanted. Whilst they are designed with the intention of improving a patient’s quality of life, occasionally they can fail to work as they should. Should this happen, you may be eligible for a personal injury legal claim.   

How do Cochlear Implants work?  

Cochlear implants consist of two components. An internal component is implanted behind the ear and an external component, the speech processor, allows the internal component to receive sound. The implant is an electronic device surgically implanted to communicate with and deliver sound to the patient’s auditory nerves in the inner ear, also known as the cochlea.  

Early intervention is often crucial for the success of the implants, so many cochlear implant patients are often children with hearing loss.   

How can I tell if the cochlear implant is defective?

Cochlear implant procedures are routinely carried out with the intention of improving a patient's ability to hear sounds.  

If the hearing device is faulty, it can cause various complications for the patient. Some of the most common complications are electrical, which can be the fault of the manufacturer. As the device sits under the skin, if it's not sealed properly, moisture could enter the implant causing the circuits to fail.  

If they are defective, it could cause distressing and painful auditory malfunctions including loud or persistent sounds and inconsistent performance. Not only does this lead to hearing loss and significant pain for the patient but also emotional distress. When this happens, generally the only solution is to undergo further surgery to replace the device.  

Various signs can point toward a defective device. Patients, and parents of patients, should look out for:  

  • Loss of hearing   
  • Pain or discomfort  
  • Distress or crying  
  • Sudden noises and popping sounds  
  • Unwillingness to use headphones  

If you believe you have a defective cochlear implant, our product safety and consumer law team can offer advice. We can also explore if you are eligible to bring a cochlear implant claim.  

What are cochlear implant claims?  

Cochlear implants are highly complex electronic devices that can become extremely uncomfortable or painful if defective. After the cochlear implant surgery, patients should feel confident that their device will perform properly. If the hearing aid is defective, you may be eligible to raise a compensation claim against the manufacturers for providing a faulty medical device. The claim can be raised on an individual basis or as a group claim.  

Group Claims: 

If various patients make a defective claim against the same party, you might be able to bring a claim as a group. Combining resources and evidence can help build a stronger case against those responsible. Group claims may help:   

  • Save time  
  • Reduce legal costs  
  • Improve the chances of success  
  • Offer reassurance for affected patients to come forward  

Our specialist product safety and consumer law team are at the forefront of medical product liability claims. We are ranked Band 1 in the legal directories for this area. Our product liability lawyers also have years of experience in bringing group claims, acting for groups of clients up to 50,000 in size.  

If you or your child are experiencing pain or discomfort from a defective cochlear implant, speak to our legal team to discuss the next steps. 

Who would I make a cochlear implant device claim against?

If you've suffered an injury or experienced distress from a defective cochlear implant, it may not be obvious who to turn to for support. In most cases, the manufacturer is often at fault as it's their responsibility to ensure medical products are safe to use.  

The Consumer Protection Act 1987 helps to protect consumers by holding manufacturers accountable for unsafe goods and devices. It allows consumers and medical patients to claim compensation if the manufacturer is responsible for personal injury, damage to property, or death.  

Our work with defective cochlear implant claims  

In February 2020, Advanced Bionics issued a voluntary recall of the initial version of their HiRes Ultra and HiRes Ultra 3D cochlear implants because of a decrease in performance.  

Advanced Bionics reported that the cause of the issue was body fluid entering the implant electrode, which can negatively impact its function. Defective devices can affect patient hearing performance over time and their ability to hear high-pitched sounds. As of 5 April 2022, Advanced Bionics reported that the global rate of failure for implants associated with this performance issue was 11.3%. Some patients also required revision surgery. 

Tina Patel has led a team representing clients who have complained about the performance issues from the HiRes Ultra and Ultra 3D cochlear implants, which Advanced Bionics are responsible for.   

Why choose Leigh Day?

We understand that when things go wrong with cochlear implants, the consequences can be devastating, causing both physical and psychological suffering. By making a compensation claim, we can help you get the compensation you deserve.  

Led by Tina Patel, our specialist team have unrivalled expertise in bringing medical consumer law claims, including previous experience with cochlear implant.  

About Tina Patel: 

Tina Patel has over 14 years of experience representing individuals who have suffered injuries from defective products. As a highly regarded personal injury lawyer she specialises in cases involving product safety and regulatory compliance.  

Tina is intimately familiar with product liability laws and regulations governing the medical device industry. She is recognised as a ‘Next Generation Partner’ by the Legal 500 in 2024 and an accredited Senior Litigator with the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL). 

Speak to us today to learn more about how we can help you on a no-obligation basis. Any conversations we have are in strict confidence.  

You can email Tina Patel at tpatel@leighday.co.uk, our specialist product safety and consumer law solicitor, or fill in our form and a member of the team will be in touch.