A broken jaw or mandibular fracture is a break in the jaw bone (mandible). The break can occur anywhere on the jaw bone. However, the most common jaw fractures occur in either end of the mandible near the jaw joint or from a direct hit along the jaw bone. Many individuals who experienced a broken jaw suffer from lifelong complications because the doctor, surgeon, or dentist failed to accurately diagnose or treat their condition.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC represents victims of vehicle crashes and accidents that cause serious injuries and other types of professional negligence. Our law firm has successfully prosecuted cases on behalf of our clients who were injured by the negligent actions of others. Our attorneys are available to answer any legal questions on how to receive the monetary compensation you deserve if someone else's negligence resulted in your damages. Should you have additional questions, we invite you to contact our office for a free review of your legal rights.
What is a Mandibular Fracture?
The human jaw is made up of a thick mandible bone that can handle the intense pressure required for chewing. The long bone attaches to the skull on each and by a condyle (a round protuberance-like ball (TMJ – temporomandibular joint) that forms the articulation with the skull to open and close the mouth. Even with its thick density, the bone can fracture when taking a direct hit.
What Causes a Jaw Fracture?
Typically, the jaw will break or fracture by force applied against the bone that can occur in several ways. Broken jaws are commonly caused by:
- A motor vehicle accident when the driver or passenger strikes their face against the dashboard with their jaw or chin.
- During play when a child accidentally falls.
- During a trip and fall injury where the individual lands face first against a firm surface.
- A fainting event where the mandible contacts a solid object.
- A motorcycle collision when the biker is thrown off the vehicle or over the handlebars.
- While participating in a sporting event.
- Through the intentional actions of another in a physical assault including being “punched in the jaw.”
- During a construction site accidents when the worker falls from a great height, is hit by heavy equipment, or suffers an injury caused by a power tool.
- From an industrial accident or job-related event including vehicle crashes, falling from great height, or being hit in the face with the moving object.
- While on public transportation and involved in a bus, subway, train, or taxicab accident.
There are specific medical conditions that can lead to a fractured jaw bone including the development of a tumor, a severe bone infection, or osteoporosis where bone density is diminished.
Am I at Risk for a Mandible Fracture?
Typically, individuals at greatest risk of suffering a fractured jaw bone include those who ride their motorcycle or bicycle without wearing a helmet. Others at risk include those who play or work in high locations, fight with others, or engage in intense sports activities.
Studies revealed that Caucasian males are more likely to suffer from jaw fracture than any other age group, especially men in their 30s. These individuals are more likely to break their mandibular condyle (TMJ) than the mandible body during risky behavior.
How do I Know my Jaw is Broken?
Most individuals who suffer a broken jaw experience intense pain, swelling, and bruising where the fracture occurred. If you believe your jaw is broken, you may not be able to open it, move it side to side, or it might slide to the side without your control. Unfortunately, most broken jaws are fractured in multiple areas. If the bone is cracked, there may be swelling, redness, or no presented symptoms at all within the first few hours or days.
You may experience a blocked airway, or have difficulty breathing. Your teeth might not align correctly as before, or you may suffer significant jaw pain in your TMJ (condyle) articulating joint.
Jaw Bone Fracture Complications
An individual suffering from a broken jaw bone can develop severe complications that involve intense pain, abnormal jaw movement, or the development of an infection. Some of the major problems associated with a fractured jaw include both immediate and delayed complications.
Any compromise of the mandible or jaw bone can cause a break when there is sufficient impact on the thickness, shape, or size of the bone. Any injury to the surrounding soft tissue could result in a severe hemorrhage or blocked airway that could induce hypovolemic shock.
- Compromised Airway – A broken jaw bone can cause bleeding, swelling, bone displacement, or blocked aspiration caused by a foreign object. A severely displaced fracture or bilateral jawbone break could compromise the tongue support and could block the airway to the lungs.
- Severe Bleeding – Though rare, some individuals with a broken jaw bone can experience soft tissue bleeding or a substantial hemorrhage that could produce life-threatening consequences. The emergency room doctor may need to perform an embolization of the extended carotid artery to save the patient's life.
- Damaged Teeth – The teeth and gums are vulnerable to a mandible fracture and will require dental intervention if the lower and upper teeth are out of occlusion. Some patients suffering from a fractured jaw bone will develop life-threatening infections in the mouth that could compromise the healing process.
The patient may experience in the days, weeks, and months following the initial assault on the jaw that caused a fracture.
- Non-Union Complication – After a two-month healing process, the bones that were fractured might heal without an osseous union where there is only limited bone volume. This might require another surgical intervention to correct the condition. Several factors may cause the bone to heal incorrectly, including a lack of jawbone immobilization or an existing medical condition.
- Malunion – The healing bones of a broken jaw may not properly fixate or reduce causing a malunion to develop. Typically, a malunion healing result is caused by improper occlusion caused by a medical error or facial deformity that occurred during the fracture event.
Treating a Fractured Jaw
Broken jaws require immediate medical treatment because of serious complications including difficulty breathing, airway blockage, bleeding, infection, teeth alignment problems, and jaw joint pain (TMJ). The emergency room doctor will perform a comprehensive physical examination (alignment, tenderness, deformity, bruising, swelling) and order x-rays to diagnose the patient's condition.
Minor fractures are usually treated with pain medication and a soft/liquid diet. Severe jaw fractures often require surgery where the lower jaw is wired to the upper jaw to ensure stability. The wire is left in place for six to eight weeks, during which time the patient can only drink liquid/soft food.
Prognosis for a Person With a Fractured Jaw
Patients who suffer a broken jaw usually heal completely in a matter of weeks or months, especially if they receive proper treatment quickly. However, complications associated with a bone fracture may occur including deformity, pain, limited movement, and misaligned teeth that may last a while or a lifetime.
Do I Have a Case for Compensation?
If you suspect that your jaw injury is the result of another's negligence, you can likely file a claim for compensation. Your injury, or the unsuccessful healing of your broken jaw, might be the result of medical negligence caused by a doctor's error, dental mistake, or surgeon's malpractice. Another driver might have caused your broken jaw by driving erratically against the rules of the road.
How Much is my Case Worth?
The facts and evidence surrounding your claim for compensation are unique, which might make it challenging to determine the exact value of your case. However, an attorney working on your behalf will obtain your health records and have them reviewed by a medical profession expert, typically a facial maxilla surgeon, who can testify to the extent of your injuries.
Your attorney will review the evidence and review other cases involving plaintiffs who suffered similar injuries and have had their case heard in court or negotiated a settlement with the defendants. The lawyer will use proven methods to calculate the worth of your claim and build the case based on past verdicts and settlements. Some of these include:
Jury Awards and Settlements
- In 2014, the jury awarded the plaintiff a $100,000 verdict. A Maryland teenager was tackled to the ground by plain-clothes officers while he ran from his from his front porch after someone who was yelling racial slurs at him. After the teenage boy was thrown into trash cans by the officers, he complained of immense jawbone pain.
The teenager sued the local police department citing that the officers had made an unlawful arrest through an assault that caused his broken jaw. The jury agreed with the plaintiff and awarded the team $100,000, claiming that the officers had caused a willful and malicious assault.
- In 2014, the plaintiff and defendants agreed to settle a case for $75,000. In this case, police officers arrested a man for drunken-driving and not paying a parking lot fee. Lawsuit documents allege that the police used unnecessary force against the plaintiff that caused his broken jaw. The injured victim sued the police department and alleged that had the police officers not been so forceful, they could have avoided breaking his jaw. Before the case went to trial, the plaintiff and the defendant agreed to settle the case for $75,000. However, the police department agreed only if they would not have to admit liability or guilt.
- In 2013, the plaintiff and defendant agreed to a settlement worth more than $100,000. In this case, a minor attending an unchaperoned party involving underage drinking was hit in the face by another partygoer which required a trip to the emergency room the next day. The doctors diagnosed the minor with a broken jaw that required two surgical procedures to fix. The minor sued the attacker and the homeowner where the event was held. Both sides agreed to settle the case for $106,639.
- In 2012, jurors awarded the plaintiff a $75,000 verdict. A Pennsylvania man struck a female biker while making a left-hand turn in his vehicle. The incident resulted in the cyclist breaking her jaw that required extensive treatments including wiring the jaw shut for almost a month. While healing, the victim could only ingest a liquid diet. The female bicyclists took the defendant to trial alleging negligence. The Pennsylvania jurors agreed with the plaintiff and awarded her a $75,000 verdict to recover her damages.
Lawyers Representing People who Have Suffered a Broken Jaw Know That Chicagoland Personal Injury Cases
A fractured jaw is a traumatic event as the fracture is both painful and disabling, as many people with jaw fractures remain unable to eat solid foods for a long period of time. Moreover, many jaw fractures also accompany the need for significant dental work due to missing or loosening teeth.
The automobile accident attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC understand that the results of your fractured jaw healing process were not your fault but caused by another's mistake. We have successfully obtained millions on behalf of the victims and their family members to ensure they were adequately compensated to cover their medical expenses, household bills, lost wages, loss of future earnings, pain, suffering, and emotional damage and we can help your family too.
Our legal team encourages you to contact our attorneys today to schedule a free, no-obligation case consultation to discuss the merits of your monetary recovery claim. We accept all personal injury cases, wrongful death lawsuits, and broken jaw injury claims through contingency fee arrangements. This legal contract postpones the payment of legal services until after we have successfully completed your case through a negotiated settlement or a jury verdict.
Our law firm gets results quickly because we understand you need money now. We proudly offer every client a “No Win/No-Fee” Guarantee, meaning if we are unable to secure financial compensation on your behalf you owe us nothing. All information you share with our law office will stay confidential.