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Chipped or Cracked Teeth: Dental Injuries in Car Accidents

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As an injury lawyer working on automobile crash cases for many years in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), I have seen numerous clients that had dental injuries or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems. The whiplash effect of a collision can harm a person’s neck and can also hurt their jaw, face, head or mouth. Such serious facial injuries and injuries to the teeth can occur even without a direct blow to the head or face. A lot depends on the position that the person and their jaw happens to be in at the moment of impact. The position of the headrest can also make a great deal of difference. The safest headrest position is to be as high and close to the head as possible to provide maximum support.

As with back injury caused by a car crash, the person involved may not realize immediately that they have chipped or cracked a tooth or caused a displacement or derangement of their TMJ. Often other more immediate concerns at the scene of the wreck seem more important at the time like how to get home if your car is totaled, whether to take an ambulance to the hospital emergency room or not, and letting your husband or wife know that you have been in an accident. However, it is important from the standpoint of getting good medical care and for documenting the dental injury for the insurance company to get the mouth or jaw problem looked at immediately. Whatever the situation, be sure to mention the symptoms to the treating doctor at the emergency room, at your family doctor, at your chiropractor, or at the orthopedist’s office. You need to go to an appropriate dentist as soon as possible to get it looked at. Not only will immediate treatment from a dentist or qualified professional get you feeling better faster, but also it will prevent the insurance company from refusing to pay for the dental injury by claiming that it would have shown up earlier if it had been caused by the accident. When you report the symptoms to your dentist, make sure to tell them the date and circumstances of the crash.

One difficulty is the fact that most people do not have good dental insurance coverage. Even my law firm, which provides decent health benefits for our employees, does not provide dental coverage. Thus, when my son chipped his teeth wrestling at school recently, I had to pay the $500.00 bill to get the teeth repaired and then seek reimbursement from the appropriate insurer, which is provided by the school. Luckily for my son, I had the money to pay this up front and then wait around two months or more before getting reimbursed. The insurance company, which covers injuries at the boy’s school, required proof from his dentist in the form of chart notes and x-rays to prove that his teeth did not have any chips, cracks or other pre-existing problems. If you, your son or your daughter has a dental injury in a car accident in North Carolina, you can expect a similar runaround. If you do not have the money to pay for the treatment up front, it is possible that the injury attorney that you hire can put you in touch with a dentist who will treat you or your family on credit and wait for the resolution for settlement of the accident case before getting paid back.

Shapiro, Cooper Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm is based in Virginia, with offices in northeast NC and Virginia Beach (VA), practicing primarily in the southeastern U.S. and handles only injury law, including car, truck, railroad, and medical negligence cases and more. The firm’s website is: hsinjurylaw.com, the firm edits three injury law blogs: Virginia Beach Injuryboard & Norfolk Injuryboard, as well as the Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard and also hosts a video library covering many FAQ’s on personal injury subjects.