Dental injuries are often an overlooked part of a car accident personal injury claim, even though damage to the teeth can cause severe pain and difficulty eating or speaking. If you've suffered dental injuries in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation.
How Dental Injuries Occur
In a car accident, dental injuries typically happen when the head or mouth is struck by or strikes an object or portion of the vehicle. This is called a direct injury. Indirect injuries can occur when the mouth closes abruptly and the force causes the teeth in the lower jaw to be crushed by the upper teeth. This is most common in a rear end collision.
- Fractured teeth. Depending on the severity of the facture, a broken tooth may have damage to the enamel, dentin, and pulp layers. Minor fractures can be fixed with cosmetic bonding, but more serious damage may require a root canal and extraction.
- Avulsed tooth. A tooth can be knocked out of the socket by the force of impact. An avulsed tooth can sometimes be saved but only if treatment is received promptly. Otherwise, veneers or implants will be needed.
- Tooth luxation. This injury occurs when a tooth is loosened but not knocked all the way out. With tooth luxation, the tooth can be wiggled forward, backward, and sideways. A dentist will need to inspect the mouth for additional damage and push the tooth back into position.
If you are experiencing any pain or discomfort in your mouth after a car accident, it's vital that you get a dental exam as soon as possible.
Types of Damages
A claim for dental injuries can include the following damages:
- The cost of dental care necessary to correct the problem
- Anticipated future dental expenses, since many dental bridges, dentures, and implants need to be replaced periodically
- Lost wages, if you had to take time off work to deal with your dental needs
- Pain and suffering
Due to the cost of anticipated future dental expenses, dental damage claims tend to be highest for younger people who will be expected to require more replacement work over the course of their lifetime.
An X-ray is the most common way to prove damages in this type of personal injury claim. X-rays can show the injury to your teeth and give an indication of what must be done to correct the problem. Comparing X-rays from after the accident with X-rays from a previous dental appointment can establish that your injuries are the result of the car accident and not a preexisting problem.
Taking extensive photos of your teeth before and after any corrective work is also recommended. Since the majority of your work will likely be completed before you reach a settlement, photos help the court visualize the full extent of your injuries.
Expert testimony is used in many types of personal injury claims involving ongoing medical expenses. If your dental injuries will result in the need for future replacement work, expert testimony can help accurately estimate this cost.
Cases Involving Partially at-Fault Drivers
If you were partially at fault for the accident that caused your injuries, you can still file a claim to seek compensation for your dental damages. However, your settlement will be proportionally reduced by your assigned percentage of fault. For example, if you were determined to be 25% at fault for the accident, you'll receive 75% of the amount you would have been entitled to if the other driver was 100% at fault.
Protecting Your Right to Compensation
In any personal injury case, the best way to ensure your right to a fair settlement is to retain the services of an experienced personal injury attorney. Insurance companies are focused on maintaining their profits, not providing you with the compensation you need to adequately pay for your dental damage. A skilled attorney can assess the worth of your case, line up the necessary evidence, and negotiate on your behalf for the highest possible settlement.
Have You Been Injured In A Louisiana Car Accident?
If you've been hurt in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Alexandria office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule your free consultation.