What a Pain in the Jaw! 3 Things to Know About Jaw Injuries and Motor Vehicle Accidents in Alberta

Personal injury law can be hard to navigate.  You might be asking yourself:

  • Are my injuries serious enough to warrant legal action?
  • How much is my personal injury claim worth?
  • Will my claim be affected by the minor injury cap in Alberta?

DBH Law has dedicated personal injury lawyers who can help you answer all of these questions.

With that in mind, here are three things YOU should know about your jaw pain and a potential personal injury claim in Alberta:

  1. What is TMD?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the name of the joint located on either side of your head that connects the lower jawbone to the skull.  It is considered to be one of the most complex joints in the body and along with the muscles and ligaments in your jaw, allows you to chew, swallow, talk and yawn.  Temporomandibular disorder, or TMD, is the term that doctors and dentists use to describe problems with jaw movement and pain in and around the joint.  These problems can be hard to treat and diagnose.  An injury to your TMJ as a result of a motor vehicle accident can be a real pain the jaw!

  1. What is the Minor Injury Regulation cap?

In 2004 Alberta legislature created something called the soft tissue or minor injury cap.  The cap is an upper limit on the amount of money that an injured person can successfully claim for pain and suffering caused by a motor vehicle accident.  The cap was enacted by our government following extensive lobbying efforts by insurance companies in the early 2000’s, who claimed that without a cap on soft tissue injuries, they would be unfairly burdened by significant awards in favour of injured plaintiffs.  Each year, the cap is adjusted for inflation – the soft tissue cap for 2017 is $5,020.

The soft tissue cap applies to damaged ligaments, muscles, and tendons of the human body that do not result in a serious impairment. It is important to note that the ‘cap’ does not apply to other heads of damage, such as loss of income, cost of care, loss of housekeeping capacity, or other out-of-pocket expenses.

  1. Does the cap apply to TMD injuries?

Probably not!  In Sparrowhawk v Zapoltinsky, the court concluded that the injured plaintiff’s jaw and mouth injuries were not minor injuries that fell under the cap for three reasons:

  • the cartilage injury and resulting injury to the teeth were not muscle, tendon or ligament injuries;
  • the jaw injury caused serious impairment; and
  • all injuries treated primarily by dentists, such as TMD and tooth injury, are never minor injuries.

This means that TMD or resulting tooth injuries might be worth much more than the current cap of $5,020!  If you or someone you know has TMD as a result of a motor vehicle accident, contact one of DBH Law’s experienced personal injury lawyers for a free consultation.