The face is one of the most important parts of not just our bodies but also every aspect of our lives. We use our faces for our basic needs, like eating, breathing, hearing, and seeing and to communicate with others and express emotion.
Beneath the surface of the skin is a delicate and complicated network of nerves, tendons, muscles, and bones that make even our most basic non-verbal communications possible.
When an accident causes facial injury, it can be physically painful, emotionally devastating, and incredibly costly to repair.
Accidents that cause facial trauma
Facial trauma can occur from just about anything: hunting accidents, athletic competition, domestic violence, sports games, or any other activity.
While the auto industry has made remarkable strides towards the safety of vehicles, cars now travel faster, are larger and more powerful, and drive on roads that are more congested than ever before.
Ironically, dangerous blows to the head and face are often from the result of contact with the safety devices that are meant to protect us, like airbags. Because of the explosive way in which airbags deploy, it can cause broken noses, black eyes, whiplash, and other injuries.
What to do if you’ve been in an auto accident
Get medical care right away
See a physician as soon after the accident as possible, even if you think your injuries are minor.
Going to the doctor right away will demonstrate that your issues are, in fact, the result of the accident in question. Insurance companies have been known to argue that injuries were not related to the accident as a means of defending themselves from blame.
Take pictures of your injuries
Following an accident, documenting any damages and injuries is critical. Take special care to take photos of all your (and your passengers’) bruises and wounds. These injuries will heal as time passes, which can make them challenging to demonstrate to a jury, if necessary.
Keep a journal of symptoms
Keep track of any symptoms or challenges you experience after the accident. Having evidence in writing can make a huge difference in your final settlement.
Seek help from a reputable injury law firm
Soon after an accident, insurance adjusters may approach you to try and settle the claim–sometimes even before all the symptoms of your injuries are evident.
Before you consider settling, take the time to visit with a qualified personal injury lawyer. Most professionals offer a free consultation to evaluate your claim.
An attorney can let you know for which damages you might be able to collect before the negotiations with the insurance company begin.
Contacting an experienced attorney can mean the difference between being able to afford all the medical or reconstructive care needed to treat your injuries or having to live with them for the rest of your life.
Common facial and head injuries due to accidents
When even one of the 14 bones that make up your face is broken, the way you look can change. Reconstructive surgery and ongoing care may be required to correct or lessen the impact of your injuries.
Nerve and soft tissue damage
Not surprisingly, many of the nerves that control your facial expressions are found near the face. Injuries to these areas can instantly render you unable to control the tiny muscles that make your facial expressions possible. Even small injuries to these nerves can cause permanent facial paralysis that will never go away.
The effect of natural forces like gravity and inertia in the moments of a collision can cause our brains to rattle.
If an accident has caused a blow to the head, then it is particularly important to see a doctor right away. There could be no outward signs of head trauma, but untreated brain bleeds or intracranial damage under the surface can lead to permanent issues or even death.
Victims of such injuries may require long-term care, which, of course, can be difficult and extremely expensive for most families.
Traumatic brain injury
Severe bumps and bruising to the brain can lead to traumatic brain injury (TBI).
This condition requires special immediate care and sometimes prolonged treatment and rehabilitation. Even with proper attention, a full recovery from TBI may not be possible.
TBI can occur in two forms: contusions and concussions. Both can be severe and life-changing. Understanding the difference between the two kinds of injuries is your first challenge.
The difference between contusions and concussions
A contusion is bruising to the brain itself. You can compare it to the bruise you might get on your knee when you trip and fall. However, bruises to the brain are significant because when the body acts to stop the bleeding that causes bruises, clotting must occur. This clotting can cause severe issues and present the victim with cardiovascular complications as well.
A contusion is usually more localized than a concussion; however, some contusions can affect a larger section of the brain.
Here are a few symptoms that may indicate contusions to the brain after head trauma:
- Alterations or changes in the victim’s personality or the way they think and behave
- Trouble communicating–both speech and the ability to understand what others say
- Logic and memory issues, disorientation, and confusion
- Difficulty concentrating or paying attention
- Numbness or tingling near the affected area
- Lack of physical coordination
A concussion is a severe condition that affects a wide-spread area of the brain. The brain essentially floats inside the skull in cerebrospinal fluid. This fluid protects the brain from banging into the bones of the skull, preventing bruising in ordinary circumstances.
When there is a blow to the head, or severe shaking occurs due to a vehicular collision, these injuries can be life-threatening.
Symptoms of a concussion include:
- Inappropriate responses or difficulty in following conversations
- Inability or trouble responding to questions
- Changes in behavior
- Difficulty remembering details of the accident
- Trouble speaking or the slurring of words
- Severe headaches
- Feeling pressure or fullness within the skull
- Passing out or losing consciousness
- Drowsiness, sleepiness, or general disorientation and confusion
- Dizziness or trouble with balance
- Ringing of the ears
- Nausea and vomiting
Contusions to the face can also mean concussions
When a victim suffers a blow to the head or face in an accident, a visible bruise can mean there are also injuries you cannot see.
If more serious damage has been done, symptoms may take hours or even days to appear.
Understanding the difference between a contusion and concussion is a job for the professionals. This is why it’s crucial to seek medical help as quickly after an accident as possible.
A common injury that can happen even in fender-benders is whiplash. Whiplash occurs when the head is violently thrust forward and snapped back with the full force of the impact.
This painful and debilitating soft tissue damage, though not always immediately apparent, can take months to heal. It can lead to lost time at work, physical therapy, and a long, painful recovery.
The symptoms of a soft tissue injury or whiplash include:
- Stiffness and pain that worsens with movement
- Tenderness in the shoulders, upper back, or arms
- Tingling or numbness in the arms
- Dizziness or fatigue
Report symptoms of head or neck injury to your doctor as soon as they develop.
Burns, especially to the face, can be tough to cope with following a car accident. Struggling with the prospect of scarring, pain, and the long-term care needed for reconstruction can take a toll on victims.
How facial burns happen in car accidents
Burns are not always a result of car fires. The majority of burns occur due to heated metal, scalding fluids, and chemicals caused by broken hoses, radiators, or engines.
Interestingly, the most effective safety features of vehicles, the airbags, can also cause excruciating burns to the skin.
How facial burns changes a person’s life
We live in a time where modern medicine can help repair and reconstruct faces burned and disfigured in a car accident. Unfortunately, these procedures and processes can be long and painful. The expense for such treatments can also be staggering.
A long series of skin grafting surgeries are not uncommon with facial burns, and each one puts the victim at risk for infections and other complications.
The victim’s recovery, depending upon the severity of the injuries, can keep the victim from returning to work or rejoining normal life for an extended period. This isolation itself can become a debilitating complication of the injury and foster depression and further emotional trauma.
Of all injuries, burns and the scarring they leave behind can be among the most difficult from which to recover. If you are attempting to cope with injuries like this as the result of an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, the frustration and fear can be overwhelming.
Why injury compensation is critical for facial burns
If you’re involved in an accident where burns occur, you should consult with a personal injury lawyer immediately.
The nature of burns and their treatment will most likely require a great deal of time and money, and, even then, there is no guarantee of a full recovery.
Compensation for burn victims can be substantial
Burn injuries are commonly well compensated. However, if you don’t have the representation of a well-trained and experienced burn lawyer, you may not have all the benefits the law provides.
Your rights must be actively and aggressively protected so you can obtain the necessary medical care you need.
Injuries of the mouth and jaw
Broken bones and teeth or facial trauma of the mouth and jaw can require the services of maxillofacial specialists.
Even for young children, whose teeth will eventually come out to make room for new ones, the importance of reconstructive steps following an accident cannot be overstated. Early tooth loss, when not addressed, can lead to crowded, crooked teeth later on.
Victims may also need intervention to restore the alignment of the jaws and the bite to ensure healthy digestion that depends upon the ability to chew effectively.
Depending on the damage done, facial trauma to the mouth and jaw can mean many surgeries and much time healing.
Common jaw injuries
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is what attaches your jaw to the bottom of your skull. The three most common manifestations of TMJ injuries are as follows:
- Myofascial pain: Pain associated with the movement of the jaw joints because the muscles of the head, face, and neck are hyperextended or stretched out of shape.
- Dislocation or derangement of the internal joint: Your joints have small cushions that act as buffers between the bones of the joint. When these cushions are jammed out of place, painful bone-to-bone grinding is possible.
Inflammatory joint disease: Joint pain can develop long after the injury and last for the remainder of the victim’s life. This joint disease can cause further issues, such as:
- Arthritis: Arthritis is common following joint injury. Arthritis can come in different forms, including degenerative or osteoarthritis, rheumatoid, psoriatic, gouty, infectious, and psoriatic arthritis.
- Synovitis: The inflammation of the synovial membranes that line joints producing fluid that enables joints to function smoothly.
Symptoms of jaw injury
Some jaw injuries are not immediately apparent after an accident. Symptoms can develop in the days or weeks following. If any of the following symptoms develop after an auto accident, it could mean you sustained a jaw injury:
- An audible clicking when you open or close your mouth, or when you are chewing
- Locking up or seizing of your jaw
- Difficulty biting down
- Aching of the facial muscles
- Persistent headaches
- Tenderness in the neck, shoulders, and back
- Pain or swelling in the sinus mask area of the face (around and above the eyes on both sides of the nose)
- Difficulty hearing or ringing in the ears
- Sensitivity in the teeth
- Sensitivity to light
Your doctor will examine you to see if injuries or uncharacteristic weakness is present.
A visit to your dentist or an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist may be recommended to ensure the joints of your jaw are working properly. X-rays, MRIs, and other imaging tests may be required to discover if and how badly the jaw is injured.
What happens when jaw injuries go untreated?
A poorly aligned or non-functional jaw can cause issues that can impact your quality of life.
Apart from the pain of TMJ that can be constant and debilitating, other life-long symptoms can develop. When teeth and jaws don’t meet properly, chewing and digestion suffer.
Sleep disorders often follow as do dental conditions as a result of teeth grinding, a signal that jaw placement has been compromised.
Additionally, inner ear issues can lead to loss of balance and cause falls, if the correct placement is not restored.
The cost of jaw injuries
Jaw injuries can become expensive. The initial visit to the emergency room, imaging tests, and follow-up visits to specialists can add up.
Even if you don’t have insurance or have a high deductible that might otherwise keep you from visiting the doctor, understand that the costs associated with a jaw injury can become even more substantial when the proper medical steps are not taken.
Don’t skimp on your health care because you don’t know how you’ll pay.
Fortunately, when a jaw injury is the result of an accident, the cost of treatment should be the liability of the at-fault driver.
Following a collision, victims can experience double vision or have trouble focusing between nearby and more distant objects. Victims can become queasy or nauseated as they look around a room. Others experience headaches or light sensitivity.
Head injuries that lead to vision problems sometimes wait to exhibit themselves in the days after the accident. Only a qualified physician can recognize the cause of the symptoms and identify a solution.
Common vision-related injuries from automobile accidents
- Damage to the optic nerve: Injury or damage to the optic nerve can create serious vision problems or blindness. Swelling or bleeding inside the head may cause increased pressure within the skull and on the optic nerve. Such pressure can limit blood circulation and distort vision or even cause blindness.
- Retinal detachment: The retina is a thin layer of tissue that covers the inside of the back of the eyeball. When the retina separates from the tissue around it, it may result in permanent blindness.
- Vitreous hemorrhage: The vitreous is a clear gel-like substance that fills the center of the eyeball. When there is a blow to the head, blood sometimes hemorrhages into the vitreous limiting vision.
How vision impairment changes a person’s life
Fortunately, many injuries to the brain and its vision centers can be reversed through surgical intervention and therapy.
Assuming vision can be restored, it may be necessary for the victim to wear corrective lenses going forward.
If vision cannot be re-established, the victim faces the challenges of having to learn to live blind or severely impaired. This can mean specialized therapy, schooling, and rehabilitation, all of which are prohibitively expensive, especially if long-term care is required.
Vision problems after an accident can turn into a life-long economic struggle. This makes it critical that the victim gets the benefits of justice.
When left undertreated, a broken nose can cause a lifetime’s worth of reduced functionality and cosmetic issues.
A bloody nose could mean your nose is fractured, or it might mean that there is more serious damage that you cannot see. If it goes undiagnosed, permanent damage could result.
Depending upon the way the break occurs and what damage to inner tissue has happened, surgery could be necessary.
Symptoms of a broken nose
The following symptoms can signal problems such as a nasal or facial fracture or deeper issues. Unfortunately, these symptoms may take days to develop fully.
- Swelling and distortion
- Tenderness and pain at the impact site
- Bruising around the nose and eyes
- Distortion of the nose–looking off-kilter or crooked
- Difficulty breathing–swelling inside the nose and sinuses
The sooner you see a doctor who can thoroughly evaluate your condition, the better your chances of healing fully and without aesthetic issues.
Facial injuries from motorcycle accidents
Motorcycles can be a preferred means of transportation for a variety of reasons. They’re economical, environmentally friendly, and are easier to maneuver on crowded city streets. But, driving on two wheels can be difficult for less-experienced drivers, and the smaller vehicles are harder to see on the roads.
When collisions between a motorcycle and a four-wheeled vehicle happen, motorcycle riders are far more likely to sustain injuries, as they are more exposed to the road.
Even with a helmet, injuries are possible
Wearing a helmet can help protect riders against damage to their faces and heads, but even with one, it’s still possible to sustain injuries. The seriousness of the injuries can be dictated by many things, like the impact speed and the kind and quality of protective gear the rider was wearing.
Severe injuries to the face, head, and neck can require ongoing and complicated series of reconstructive cosmetic surgeries. Recovery for these kinds of procedures can be long, challenging, and costly. Victims may also be unable to work during this extended recovery time.
Common motorcycle accident injuries
When motorcycle accidents happen, drivers have little or no protection, so any exposed part of the body can sustain severe damage.
Impacts to the head and face can cause a variety of injuries, including road rash, loss of vision, loss of hearing, skull fractures, brain damage, and many other serious issues.
Road rash occurs when the skin comes in contact with and is injured by the surface of the roadway. Injuries to the face can be especially devastating and cause permanent scarring and disfigurement.
As with burns, road rash injuries are measured by degrees:
- First-Degree: First-degree road rash abrasions are considered minor. Such injuries involve scrapes, bruising, or redness; minor bleeding; and pain. This kind of injury is also called an avulsion. Issues of this kind can often be treated at home, though we always recommend having them assessed by a physician.
- Second-Degree: These injuries are more severe. Second-degree road rash may expose the rider’s muscles, tendons, and nerves. Victims can also experience pronounced swelling, bleeding, and the sensation of heat radiating throughout the lesions. These injuries require medical attention quickly as there is usually severe pain and swelling almost immediately. Scarring can be likely in second-degree road rash injuries.
- Third-Degree: This is the most serious degree of road rash. Deep wounds with expose muscles, tendons, nerves, and sometimes even bones are common with this injury. When large sections of the rider’s body are affected, and infection can occur quickly, which adds to the possibility of serious complications. Permanent scarring and disfigurement often follow.
Compensation for Motorcycle Accident Victims
If the negligence or fault of another driver is what caused your accident, you may be eligible for compensation for your injuries.
If your injury is disfiguring, causes loss of limbs, lifetime scarring, or requires a long and complicated recovery, then you may be able to collect for all your expenses as well as pain and suffering. Of course, the amount of your compensation depends upon your insurance claim and how well it is presented.
While no amount of money can reverse the effects of having to live with a debilitating injury, it can ensure you are more easily able to pay for the care you’ll need moving forward.
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident where another driver was at fault, contact an injury lawyer who can review your case. They will be able to review the facts about your accident and work with you to find the best way to receive the compensation you deserve.
Dealing with insurance claims for medical exams and treatment
If you believe your injury is not severe enough to justify a trip to the emergency room and you fail to get proper care immediately after an accident, you’re playing into the hands of the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Failing to take the necessary steps quickly following an accident will almost certainly complicate the process of receiving full compensation for your injuries.
Insurance companies will often do everything possible to avoid paying out claims. For this reason, they will work very hard to make your injuries seem inconsequential or unrelated to the accident at hand.
If you fail to go to the emergency room soon after an accident, the insurance company might claim that you knew you weren’t badly injured.
If there is any significant delay between the time of the accident and the doctor’s diagnosis of your injuries, that insurance company will most likely claim that your injuries were not the result of the car accident at all.
Protect yourself after an accident
After an accident, the other driver’s insurance company adjuster may contact you and attempt to settle the claim quickly. This can occur days or even hours after the collision. But resist the urge to fall for this trick. Their goal is to get you to sign away your rights BEFORE you have time to discover the full scope of your injuries or complications.
We recognize that the events after an accident can leave you in a fog. The more shaken up you are, the more vulnerable you are to predatory insurance tricks. That’s why we always recommend you contact a personal injury lawyer immediately after an accident.
The sooner you have a qualified advocate representing you, the better your chances are of being fully compensated for your losses and your injuries. Having an attorney beside you can also result in the insurance company taking your injuries seriously, even if you thought those injuries were small and insignificant.
Use the time after your accident to get the treatment you need to heal completely. Allow an experienced attorney to handle the details of your settlement. They’ll look at the facts and let you know how to proceed.
Why it’s crucial to seek legal representation: Amanda’s story
This is Amanda’s story in her own words. We think it says what we want to tell you, only better.
“Dear Millar Law Firm,
In April of 2016, I was in a T-bone collision at an intersection in Newton, Georgia. The other driver ran a stop sign and hit my Honda Civic broadside.
To be honest, I don’t remember much about the accident itself. There was the sound of squealing brakes, the horrible sense of my car crumpling around me. I remember thinking that it was raining broken glass coming from all directions, like one of those violent summer storms. There was lots of blood – most of it coming from the left side of my face where the mangled car door post slashed the side of my face and across my forehead. I can remember trying to brush the blood away, but in that moment, I felt the flap of skin that had once been my eyebrow dangling just above my left eye. I remember thinking it was surprisingly heavy. (Probably because it included part of my scalp.)
Then there was the ambulance and the hospital. It seems like a very confusing bad dream.
The good news about my accident is that there were no broken bones, and while my cheekbone on the left side and some of my eye-socket were exposed, nothing was thrown out of place or broken there. There was troubling numbness in my face, but I satisfied that at least it didn’t hurt. Speaking was practically impossible, but I assumed that the swelling around my face was the cause. The bad news came later.
They stitched me up at the hospital and, the day after the wreck as I was waiting to be discharged, the insurance adjuster showed up.
I’d learned that the other driver had been ticketed for running the stop sign, but I was still very disoriented and confused, I could not begin to understand all the adjuster was saying. Nor did I fully understand all the doctor had told me earlier in the day.
The adjuster said his company would replace my car, which was totaled. They would pay for my ambulance ride and my emergency care. They would pay me for a full month for recovery, including my wages from the restaurant and tips.
The adjuster assured me that I was very lucky to be relatively un-injured, BUT his company would very happily provide a bit of reconstructive surgery if it was absolutely necessary.
When he finished, I was convinced that I was, indeed, a lucky girl. It appeared that all of my expenses would be paid, and I wouldn’t even have to hire a lawyer. All I had to worry about was to heal up and get on with my life.
I should have waited to sign the settlement agreement until my mind was clearer. I believed the adjuster that it was the best offer I was going to get. At my home the following morning, I happily signed on the dotted line and began anticipating my settlement check,” the letter continued.
This young woman, aged 22, attends beauty school six days a week and works as a server at an Atlanta eatery in the evenings. Her wages and tips are her only source of income. Mandy didn’t think beyond what she thought would be a relatively quick recovery. Nor did she understand the full severity of her facial injuries or the cost associated with the surgeries she would endure in the years to come.
Insurance companies don’t anticipate medical bills correctly–especially for facial injuries
Mandy’s accident had given her a nasty, jagged gash that ran from the middle of her cheek beyond her hairline toward the top of her head. The entire left-frontal section of her skin and scalp had also been completely lifted away from the underlying tissue.
Worse, the seventh cranial nerve, the facial nerve that controls the functions of the left side of her face, including her eye, tongue, and other muscles were severely damaged. Fortunately for Mandy, it was not completely severed, providing hope that, with time and multiple surgeries, Mandy might recover control over the left side of her face.
Mandy settled too soon
Insurance companies are always eager to settle a claim early in the process before all the facts are known. They often approach the victim long before he or she fully understands what’s happened or what the long-term consequences will be.
The insurance adjuster is always pleasant and convincing. He or she will be very cordial and give you what you, in your post-accident fog, consider to be a great deal.
If we could leave you with just one critical piece of advice, it would be this:
NEVER settle any accident claim before you’ve spoken with an attorney.
When the dust cleared around Mandy’s situation, she was faced with the need for multiple surgeries over an extended time, during which she could not work.
The non-economic cost of facial trauma
When someone’s face has been altered due to an accident, the amount of money needed to cover medical bills can be astronomical. Still, that expense can be secondary to the emotional distress a facial injury can cause.
Facial trauma victims often encounter:
- Stares and comments from strangers
- Anxiety and a diminishing sense of self-confidence
- A constant reminder of the accident and its consequences
- Depression, social isolation, and reluctance to interact with others
- Loss of employment, particularly if he or she is in a position requiring interaction with the public
- Challenges finding new employment
Seeking fair compensation for facial trauma
If you or a loved one has experienced the nightmare of facial trauma due to an accident caused by negligence, your hope for recovery may be limited. Money cannot restore all of what’s been lost. However, money can pay for the best medical care possible.
What a settlement for facial injury can cover
Fair compensation can cover past and future medical bills that are a result of the care needed for your recovery. This includes any necessary reconstructive surgery, rehabilitation, or medical devices.
A settlement can also cover any lost income the victim has or will continue to suffer. Fair and just compensation can also help to secure your way of life as long-term medical procedures continue. An appropriate settlement can help you get the psychological tools necessary to move beyond the trauma as well.
To accomplish this, though, the victim must be represented by a formidable legal team with hands-on experience that can estimate and prove even non-economic damages accurately.
Unless you retain a law firm that specializes in personal injury cases, many of the costs and consequences of your accident may never be recognized. Therefore, you won’t receive adequate compensated.
At The Millar Law Firm, we always recommend that you take great care in retaining a lawyer. We suggest that you take time to discuss your accident and its aftermath with a qualified personal injury lawyer who understands that the rest of your life will never be the same. You need a lawyer who knows what it takes to get every last dime possible to compensate you for your losses.
Schedule a free consultation
Call us today for your free case evaluation. We’ll review the facts in your case and help you determine what compensation will be required to make you whole again. Let our decades of experience help you find all of the justice you deserve.