Most collision-related facial injuries result from air bag deployment. Airbag burns to the face and neck can be quite severe and painful. However, these injuries are transient and far less severe than a direct impact to the steering wheel, dash panel, or windshield.
Significant facial trauma can result in lacerations with sutures to the outside of the face or the inside of the mouth. A severe head strike can also result in a fracture to the nose and sinus bones, fracture to the jaw or teeth, fracture to the eye orbit or skull. Emergency care protocol calls for cranial CT scans in head trauma cases. These scans and X-ray radiological studies will reveal the extent of facial fractures. In more serious cases, surgery is required to repair orbital fractures, nasal fractures, and jaw fractures.
Injuries to the head and face often motivate very high jury awards. In settlement talks, the victim should present detailed medical evidence and photographs to show exactly how the injuries occurred and how the facial injuries appeared during the first weeks following the collision. X-rays and other graphic evidence, including medical diagrams showing any surgical processes, should be part of the claim presentation. Current photos should be offered along with reports from plastic surgeons to document permanency of scarring and any nerve damage or other lasting symptoms. In some cases, nerve pain medicine (e.g., gabapentin) will be used to reduce nerve pain associated with facial scars. If this is a permanent need for the patient, the full cost of this expensive medicine should be collected to fund all pain management needs over the balance of the patient’s life.
In facial injury cases involving fracture, the victim must present very detailed medical reports and evidence to prove the future effects of these injuries. If fracture occurs to the jaw, associated problems, such as dental alignment and traumatic TMJ, should be considered and fully addressed by a maxillofacial surgeon. If fracture occurs near the eye orbit, careful consideration by medical specialists should be undertaken to prove any future problems that might arise relating to vision, optic nerve damage, or eye alignment. Finally, nasal fractures should also be carefully analyzed to isolate proof of any permanent breathing difficulties or any potential need for future nasal surgery.
Facial injuries resulting in permanent scarring or disfigurement should bring generous compensation for pain and suffering. Emotional injury should be carefully documented, and the victim’s gender, age, profession, and other considerations should be addressed in the injury case presentation. Care should also be taken to consider Facebook and other social media entries to ensure that the claims of emotional injury cannot be impeached with open-access social media entries depicting the victim in a context that suggests a lack of emotional discomfort with facial scarring.