Facial injuries from car accidents are very common. Not only are cuts, fractures, and burns to the face very painful, these injuries sometimes require surgery and reconstruction. Some leave permanent scars that can never be fully repaired.
Unfortunately, these and other bodily injuries are not entirely preventable, particularly in high-speed collisions. However, there are steps you can take to protect your face and reduce the severity of facial trauma if you are involved in a car accident.
After being a safe and responsible driver, the best thing you can do to avoid an accident and trauma to the face is wear your seat belt at all times. In fact, seat belts in the front reduce the risk of injury by 50 percent and death by 45 percent, according to data from the National Safety Council (NSC). Proper seat belt use depends on the age, size, and location of each passenger. You can visit the CDC Online Resource Center for more information about seat belt safety.
What Are the Most Common Facial Injuries That Occur in Car Accidents?
When seated in a passenger vehicle, the head and neck are unrestrained, which makes them especially vulnerable to injury during a forceful crash. The face is also exposed to shattered glass and jagged metal that can cause significant trauma to the delicate facial structures. Contact with the airbag, steering wheel, dashboard, or side window, and flying debris also cause painful, debilitating facial injuries as well.
Here is a closer look at facial injuries that can occur during a serious motor vehicle accident.
Contusions or bruises are discolorations on the skin caused by the pooling of blood under the surface. They develop when trauma damages the small blood vessels without breaking the skin. Bruises can occur in the skin, muscle, and bones, with bone bruises being the most serious.
Contact with any object or person in the car in an accident can cause facial bruising. It can take anywhere from weeks to months for a bruise to fully heal. During that time, bruised areas can be swollen and painful.
A facial fracture is a broken bone in the face. Bones that form the facial skeleton include the:
- Frontal bone (forehead).
- Mandible (lower jaw).
- Maxillary bones (upper jaw).
- Nasal bones.
- Orbital bones (eye sockets).
- Zygomas (cheekbones).
Broken noses are common in car accidents because the nasal bones are thin, fragile, and more prominent on the body than other bones. A broken nose may bleed, appear swollen and deformed, and feel sore to the touch.
Because the muscles used for chewing, swallowing, and speaking are connected to some of these facial bones, facial fractures can impact these functions. Damage to the nerves located near facial bones can affect sensations, expressions, and movement in facial structures.
Airbags are considered supplemental protection, designed to work in conjunction with seat belts to reduce the chance of impact with the vehicle’s interior during a crash. There is no disputing the fact that airbags are one of the most vital safety developments in vehicle safety. However, they do come with an unintended consequence when they deploy: the risk of serious airbag burns and other injuries.
During a frontal collision, rapid deacceleration triggers airbag sensors to inflate as quickly as less than 1/20th of a second. This rapid inflation is the result of a chemical reaction by which sodium azide or sodium hydroxide explodes and converts to nitrogen gas inside the airbag.
If the bag ruptures while inflating, these chemicals can leak into the cabin. Exposure to the chemicals can result in chemical and/or thermal burns to the face, neck, chest, and arms.
Airbags can also cause the following injuries in some car accidents:
- Facial trauma.
- Cervical injuries.
- Cuts and bruises.
- Rib fractures and other chest injuries.
- Corneal abrasions and other eye injuries.
- Tinnitus and other hearing damage.
Despite the risk of airbag injuries, passengers are safer in vehicles with airbags than they are in vehicles without functional airbags.
Soft Tissue Injuries
A soft tissue injury involves damage to the body’s muscles, ligaments, or tendons. Some of these have already been mentioned above: bruising, burns, and nerve damage. Lacerations or cuts and scrapes are also very common in auto accidents. While many facial soft tissue injuries are minor and heal quickly, more severe injuries can cause uncontrolled bleeding, swelling, and problems with hearing, vision, breathing, and speech.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Facial injuries from a car accident may indicate or be related to serious trauma to the brain. Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are generally caused by a violent jolt or blow to the head or body which forces the brain against the skull. After falls, car accidents are the second leading cause of TBIs in the United States.
A concussion is a type of TBI that occurs after a bump or blow to the head or body causes the head and brain to move back and forth rapidly. This motion stretches and damages brain cells causing a wide range of physical, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms.
The force of a collision can also lead to bleeding within the skull, or an intracranial hemorrhage. This pooling of blood puts pressure on the brain resulting in serious brain damage or death. An intracranial hemorrhage requires immediate medical attention.
What Are Possible Facial Injury Complications?
Cuts and bruises are not altogether serious. However, more severe facial injuries can have serious, long-term complications that impact a person’s physical and emotional health and well-being. These complications include:
- Chronic pain.
- Vision damage.
- Hearing damage.
- Difficulty eating and speaking.
- Damage to one’s sense of smell.
Facial injuries that require surgery to repair or reconstruct damage tissues also come with the risk of infection, bleeding problems, and other complications. Even if you do not have pain or symptoms after a car accident, it is always a good idea to see a doctor and get checked out as a precautionary measure to rule out TBIs and other hidden injuries.
Monmouth County Car Accident Lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova Advocate for Clients Recovering From Accident-Related Facial Injuries and Losses
If you have severe facial injuries or other injuries from a car accident, one of our Monmouth County car accident lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova can advocate on your behalf. Call us at 732-705-3363 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today. We have offices in Hazlet and Highland Park, New Jersey, and we assist clients in Ocean County, Sussex County, Neptune, Middlesex County, and Pennsylvania.