Dental Damage or Tooth Issues After a Car Accident? Here’s What You Need to Know
There are over six million car accidents in the United States each year. Out of those six million, half of them are injured as a result of the accident.
Two million of those injuries are permanent.
While most of us worry about internal injuries or not being able to walk again, there are other injuries to think about. One of which is injuring or permanently damaging your mouth.
And if you’ve received other injuries that are the time more life-threatening, mouth injuries tend to be pushed to the wayside. Sometimes, the injuries are ignored altogether.
But suffering from dental damage or tooth issues is no joke. You may even be entitled to compensation.
Keep reading if you experienced injuries to your teeth or mouth during a car accident to learn what you need to know.
The Types Of Dental Injuries Most Often Suffered
Dental damage can be direct or indirect. It depends on what happened during the accident and how forceful the impact was to the victim.
Direct dental injuries happen when the head or mouth strikes or is struck by an object. Indirect dental injuries happen if you had your mouth open during the accident causing it to abruptly close.
If the force is great enough, your lower jaws teeth can be crushed by your upper teeth.
No matter what type of dental damage happened to you, it will be painful. And the faster you’re going when the crash occurred, the more severe the injuries are.
What treatment you need depends on the extent of the injury and how many teeth were affected. Here are three dental injuries often caused by a car crash.
It’s not unusual for acute dental damage to happen during a catastrophic auto collision.
One of the results is fractured teeth. And they require treatment in order to fix your damaged teeth.
There are three categories of dental fractures.
Ellis I is a fracture in the crown. It only extends through the enamel of the tooth.
If you have an Ellis I fracture, you’ll find that the affected teeth have rough edges. However, you won’t experience any tenderness nor will there be any visible change in color.
Ellis II are fractures that occur in both the enamel and the dentin layer. You’ll find with this type of fracture that there is tenderness when you tooth the tooth.
You’ll also notice tenderness when the dental damage is exposed to the air. Often a yellow layer of dentin is visible while your dentist exams your mouth.
And Ellis III fractures involve the enamel, dentin, and pulp layers. Like an Ellis II fracture, you’ll notice tenderness and sensitivity to the affected area.
You’ll also notice a visible region of pink, red, or even blood on the center of the affected tooth.
An avulsed tooth happens when the tooth is completely knocked out of its socket. If your tooth is knocked out, do NOT pick it up by its roots.
Instead, gently pick it up by the crown. Then place it in a container filled with saline solution, whole milk, or your own saliva.
Immediately seek out medical attention. Your tooth can be placed back in its socket but you only have a 30-minute to a two-hour window in which to do this. After that, the chances are great your tooth will die and you’ll need a replacement.
A tooth luxation is similar to an avulsed tooth except it has only been loosened and hasn’t been completely knocked out of its socket.
Usually, you can move the tooth around backward, forward, and even sideways.
Again, seek out treatment as soon as possible. Treatment for a tooth luxation tends to involve pushing the tooth back to its original position.
However, a dentist needs to check to make sure no further damage has occurred.
Examining The Value Of Your Dental Damage
Every car accident is different. Maybe you were wearing a seatbelt and maybe you weren’t.
Perhaps you were in the middle of eating something when the accident occurred.
Maybe you think that means you’re not entitled to compensation. But that’s not always true.
Let’s examine a few scenarios.
There Was Something In The Mouth Of The Victim
Many people believe that if they were chewing on ice or another substance at the time of the accident they won’t be able to receive compensation.
That’s not true. Even if you were chewing on ice while the accident happened and it forced you to bite down hard and suffer dental damage, you’re still entitled to recovery.
In fact, these types of cases are actually common. Many people drink, eat, or chew on items like pens while in a car.
The real problem isn’t whether you’ll receive compensation, it’s recovering from your injuries.
How To Prove Damages
Fortunately, there is more than one way to prove damages in these types of cases. The most common way to prove dental damage is through an x-ray.
X-rays will show exactly the type of damage that occurred. It also helps the medical or dental team know exactly what procedure is needed to fix it.
For serious fractures, oral surgery is required. In certain cases where the damage is deemed to be too much, the victim may require a full operation to remove damaged or decaying teeth.
An implant will then be installed in place of the original teeth.
However, oral surgery isn’t cheap. It’s actually quite costly.
A typical procedure costs thousands of dollars. Then there’s the extra money required for additional upkeep and care.
Even if you suffered minor dental damage, schedule an appointment with your dentist immediately.
If you don’t have dental insurance or coverage, ask the dentist about payment plans or visit Carecredit.com for financing options.
You can also ask your attorney to refer you to a dentist or doctor who is open to providing you with care on lien so you don’t have to pay for anything up-front.
Why It’s Important To Seek Out Medical Help Immediately
Obviously, you shouldn’t wait to seek out medical or dental help after you’ve been injured because you want to ensure you’re okay.
Many people are in shock after they’ve been in an accident. It’s often hard to focus and sometimes you feel fine even if you aren’t.
They go home and then realize later on how bad their injuries are. Sometimes, that can mean the difference between saving your teeth and getting dentures.
If your mouth received any impact at all, visit your dentist as soon as possible.
And if you hope to receive the compensation you deserve, you’ll need proof.
Insurance companies like to pretend dental damage isn’t a big deal. Without proof, they’ll never pay out.
And the opposing attorney will gladly point out that you seemed fine and didn’t seek out medical or dental attention.
Do yourself a favor by seeking out medical attention directly after an auto accident, even if it was a minor one.
When you go to hire an attorney for your dental damage, they will explain to you the process of determining liability to see if you have a case.
Much of it depends on the nature of the accident and the circumstances surrounding it.
In cases where your tooth was chipped by flying debris from a machine at work, then a claim can be brought against your employer.
If your child was involved in an accident on the playground at school, the claim would be brought against the local education authority.
To prove liability, your injury attorney has to prove that the Defendant can be held legally accountable for the accident. They then have to prove that your dental damage was a direct result of that accident.
Unfortunately, sometimes it’s not entirely clear who is responsible for the accident. In those types of cases, it’s still possible to make a claim for compensation.
Your attorney just needs to gather evidence relating to the accident in order to determine the liable party.
How To Estimate A Claim’s Value
It’s not exactly easy to estimate the value of the dental damage. Usually, it involves making an educated guess as to what a jury might award the plaintiff, what the defendant is willing to pay to settle the case before it heads to trial, and what the plaintiff is willing to accept.
The biggest factors when estimating the value of a claim are the extent of the dental damages and how likely a jury finds the defendant liable for the accident and subsequent injuries.
If you do go to trial, it’s the jury who decides how much money the plaintiff receives.
When it comes to medical bills and lost wages, it’s easier to predict how much money you’ll receive because these are more concrete. The damages in this example are largely based on the amount the plaintiff has demonstrated he/she has already paid and will continue to pay.
But not everything is so cut and dry when it comes to assessing monetary compensation due to injuries from an accident. Pain and suffering are much more subjective.
It’s hard to put a price on it because the jury has no idea how the victim truly feels. Instead, any prediction made regarding the monetary amount awarded for pain and suffering is merely a guess on the part of your attorney based on his or her previous experience with juries in similar situations.
But every jury is different and pain and suffering damages are within a very broad range in terms of compensation.
How Pain And Suffering Is Often Measured
Valuing damages from dental damage is often based on how the injured tooth affects the particular victim.
That depends on the amount of damage and what kind of dental repair is required to fix the problems. In some cases, a plaintiff may have had their ability to eat and other habits altered, sometimes permanently.
Other victims may have cosmetic issues that affect their well-being and/or even their livelihood. In these cases, pain and suffering aren’t just limited to the physical pain the dental damaged caused.
Also factored in would be the direct negative effects on the plaintiff’s life as a result of the dental damage.
Document Everything Carefully
Thankfully, plaintiff’s don’t need to prove dental damage based on solely on their testimony. A jury can observe the damage sometimes just by looking at the victim.
Other times, x-rays or the testimony of the dentist or orthodontist is used.
Don’t wait to get your teeth repaired. Document everything carefully and make sure your dentist or orthodontist does the same.
It’s also important to note that most accidents involving dental damage also involve head injuries. That tends to increase the value of the claim as claim adjusters consider head injuries more serious than dental damage.
A Look At Some Settlements
Every case is different. But it’s also nice to know what a typical settlement looks like.
For a chipped front tooth that occurred in a premises liability claim, the settlement was for $10,000.
A civil battery lawsuit awarded a plaintiff $40,000 for a lost tooth, two fractured teeth, and two chipped teeth after being punched in the mouth.
For two cracked teeth and a lacerated lip, a plaintiff was awarded $60,000 for a motor vehicle accident.
In another motor vehicle accident where the plaintiff suffered the loss of two permanent teeth, $72,500 was awarded.
And in a third motor vehicle accident case the plaintiff was awarded $98,000 for two broken teeth and permanent lip scarring.
Don’t Wait To Hire A Lawyer
The longer you wait to hire a lawyer, the more difficulties you’ll encounter.
There’s a statute of limitations for injury claims and each state differs on how long you have. Then there are the added costs of any dental or medical bills and the possibility of lost wages due to the extent of your injuries.
Don’t wait to get the financial help you deserve.
Contact us today for your free case review.