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Bicycling is a risky form of transportation. Riders are exposed and vulnerable to severe injuries. At best, they might be wearing a helmet, but that helmet does little to protect a rider’s chin, especially if he or she is thrown over the bike’s handlebars and onto the roadway. When an accident like that happens, it’s not unusual for the rider to suffer a fractured jaw (mandibular fracture). The most common location of a jaw fracture is at the mandibular condyle. That’s where the jawbone meets the skull at the area just ahead of the bottom of the ear. A fracture at that location affects both the bone, muscles, and cartilage in the mandibular joint. All of those parts help the mouth open and close.
Fractured Jaw Symptoms

If a rider has fractured their jaw, he or she will suffer severe pain. Aside from that, other symptoms usually include:

  • Pain while chewing or inability to chew
  • Swelling of the face
  • Facial shape change
  • Difficulty opening the mouth
  • An abnormal and different bite until the fracture is fixed
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Loose or even lost teeth

Diagnosing a Fractured Jaw

If a fractured jaw is suspected, a diagnosis will probably be performed by a doctor or a dentist who specializes in oral surgery. A physical exam of the jaw and mouth will be performed, and x-rays will be taken. If the appropriate equipment is available, a panoramic x-ray of the entire jaw from one side to the other will be taken. If no fracture is seen on the panoramic x-ray, and the examining doctor still suspects a fracture, a CT scan at a hospital might be in order.

Treatment of Jaw Fractures

With simple jaw fractures, bandages might be wrapped around a victim’s head and chin for purposes of immobilization. Most fractured jaws are treated by wiring the victim’s upper and lower teeth together for four to six weeks. More serious fractures might take longer. That task is usually performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. An unstable jaw fracture might require surgical implantation of plates across the location of the fracture. Injuries to both the jaw and teeth must be treated at the same time. Fractured teeth should be removed. Teeth with damage to the gums that supply them with blood and nutrients might also be removed. In any case, drastic temporary diet changes will have to be made, and antibiotics will be in order since the mucosa of the mouth can become infected.

The Prognosis

The future is going to be spotty for bicyclists who suffer jaw fracture after an accident. Even if teeth are cosmetically replaced, a bicycle accident victim who suffers a fractured jaw is likely to be intermittent pain and discomfort for life. When the fracture is caused by the carelessness and negligence of somebody else, compensation can be sought in the form of a claim or lawsuit.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I can’t eat my favorite foods after a jaw injury?

If the inability to eat is temporary, you can get compensation for loss of enjoyment of life and pain and suffering for the duration of the injury. If there is any permanent inability to eat and enjoy life, that can be sought as well. The person who injured you has to pay for all reasonable losses that you suffered because of your injury.

Can I trust the insurance company to give me full compensation?

The truth is that the insurance company agents and adjusters have one job to do and that is to save their company as much as possible. This means that no matter how logical their offer sounds or the amount it is, you need someone on your side that knows the law and can make sure you are being treated fairly.

What if I rode my bike in front of the car that hit me?

If you were injured because you rode your bike in the path of a car, this might not mean that you are out of luck for compensation. The driver could have been distracted or speeding or a number of other things that might place a percentage of the blame on him or her. Talk to an attorney who knows the law and how to get you compensation even if you feel you were partially at fault.

Contact Bay Area Bicycle Law

Jaw fractures can result in expensive medical treatment, pain and emotional trauma. You’ll want your injuries treated professionally and responsibly. You’ll want your California bicycle accident personal injury case treated effectively, efficiently and professionally too.

The attorneys at Bay Area Bicycle Law focus their practice on bicycle-related injuries. Years of advocacy for bicycle victims have seasoned our attorneys with the necessary skills, knowledge base and familiarity to handle bicycle accident cases to the utmost level of professional expertise. Since bicycle accident-related injuries present unique legal issues that oftentimes render them completely different from conventional auto accidents or accidents involving other types of vehicles, BABL’s collective expertise in bicycle cases is imperative in helping clients achieve the most favorable settlements possible.

We work with clients in San Francisco, Palo Alto, Berkeley, Oakland, Sacramento and all over Northern California. Contact us today for a free consultation after any bicycle accident.