An injury to the protective facial bones can have a devastating impact on not only your outward appearance but the sensitive organs that they protect. At The Sevey Law Firm, we are committed to helping people in Sacramento and Roseville who have suffered injuries like facial fractures get the compensation they need to pay for costly medical bills, reconstructive surgeries, and other expenses.
Because we want our clients and others to understand the impact of these injuries and what can be expected during diagnosis and treatment, we have provided the following helpful information. This article addresses facial fractures and what can be expected if you suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligent actions.
What is a Facial Fracture?
Facial fractures are the cracking or breaking of bones that comprise the craniofacial area of the skull. These fractures often occur as a result of car accidents, slips, trips, and falls, workplace accidents, and sports injuries.
It is important to check for facial fractures if an injury involving the head or the cervical (upper) spine occur. The physician must consider the type of injury during examination as various amounts of force are needed to fracture various areas of the face. Fractures of the orbital (eye) area, the nasal (nose) area, and the mandibular (jaw) are the areas where fractures most commonly occur.
Types of Facial Fractures
- Orbital fracture: The eye area is composed of seven (7) bones. The orbital floor, or the bottom of your eye socket, is the thinnest region in the orbital region and is the most likely to fracture. The breaking of the bottom orbital area, sometimes referred to as a “blowout fracture,” can severely limit the range of motion of the eye.
- Nasal fracture: This is the most common area of facial fracture, and rightfully so as it is the most prominent area of the human face. The upper part of the nose is bone and the lower part consists of cartilage. Serious fractures often occur when a the bridge of the nose strikes or is struck by an object.
- Maxillary fracture: These are fractures in the area between the nose and the upper row of teeth. There are three levels of fractures for the maxillary area, named for a French scientist who first diagnosed these breaks. A LeFort One Fracture involves a break between the upper teeth and the nose area; a LeFort Two fracture involves the nasal area and even fractures areas around the eye; and finally a LeFort Three fracture involves severe fracture, usually from a motor vehicle accident, whereby the lower jaw area separates from the cranium (upper skull) area.
- Mandibular fracture: Fractures of the mandible (lower jaw) can occur from a motor vehicle accident and involve severe blows to the chin. When fractures occur in this region of the face, they are often multiple in nature.
Diagnosing a Facial Fracture
If you believe you have suffered a facial fracture, your doctor will often first make sure your cervical spine is intact. The spine is often immobilized as a precaution during a facial examination. Once the spine has been secured, your physician may ask the following questions:
- Are you able to breathe out of both your nostrils?
- Is there any problems with your vision? Are you suffering from double vision?
- Are you having difficulty speaking or using your mouth in any way?
- Do you have normal hearing?
- Have you ever undergone any prior facial surgeries or procedures, including but not limited to LASIK surgery?
- Do you have any numbness in your face?
- Do you have any tooth or teeth pain?
- Are you able to close and open your mouth as you normally would?
After this battery of questions, the doctor may order imaging of the area to determine the extent of the damage. A CT scan (computed tomography) may be ordered since it is more accurate at distinguishing fractures of the curved facial area than an X-Ray.
Treatment of Facial Fractures
For frontal fractures, any posterior wall fractures may require immediate neurosurgical evaluation; the surgeon will determine the next steps which may include antibiotics. In the event of an orbital fracture, treatment may include elevation of the head and the application of ice. Pain medication may also be prescribed, or over-the-counter medicine might be taken to alleviate pain and inflammation.
If the sinuses are damaged, antibiotics may be required. If the fracture is severe, a specialist such as an oral surgeon or plastic surgeon may be needed.
For nasal fractures, pressure applied by the physician with his thumbs coupled with the insertion of probes which prop up and restore the nasal cavity to its original position. If there is a maxillary fracture, open reduction combined with internal fixation is often the course of action chosen by your doctor. This involves the placement of screws or pins into the bone to restore its natural integrity.
Mandibular fractures are treated much like maxillary fractures and antibiotics often accompany any surgery.
Follow-up after the surgery is necessary and is an important part of healing. Studies show that healing begins after a facial fracture with five (5) days and remodeling of the fracture occurs some fifty (50) days after surgery or treatment. With fractures involving the orbital area, improvement in vision is the most critical factor in a return to a normal life and any loss of clarity needs immediate attention from your healthcare provider.
Filing a Facial Fracture Claim
As with any injury, you may be entitled to compensation depending on the circumstances and nature of your case. The following may be recoverable after the disposition if your case:
- Current medical bills: We can recover the cost of all medical bills up to the time of disposition of your case;
- Future medical bills: Vertebral injuries can and do lead to future medical costs; rest assured we address your future medical care as part of your settlement;
- Lost wages: We understand you weren’t able to collect your paycheck during this traumatic time and we can recover the money you would have earned
- Future income: We will help to formulate what money you might lose as a result of your injury due to future inability to work;
- Pain and suffering: We may be able to recover compensation for any trauma and suffering as a result of your injury.
Contact Us Today
Although facial fractures typically aren’t life-threatening on their own, they can cause complications like obstructed airways in the event of maxillary, nasal and mandible bone fractures, putting innocent lives at risk.
Additionally, fractures can cause disfigurement and permanent disability that may result in lifelong physical and emotional trauma. If this happens, you have the right to take legal action to hold the party accountable for your accident responsible. To learn more about how our Roseville and Sacramento facial fracture lawyers can help protect your rights and safeguard your future, contact The Sevey Law Firm today by calling (916) 788-7100 and schedule a free consultation.