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Understanding Whiplash And TMJ After a Car Accident

  • Following a car crash, jaw pain may result from head injuries or a neck injury such as whiplash, and lead to a diagnosis of Temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ.
  • Such a diagnosis and TMJ pain may result from a bruised, broken, or dislocated jaw.
  • Some of the most common symptoms of TMJ include a locked jaw, migraines, vertigo, and pain while eating.
  • If you experience jaw pain after a car accident, avoid hard and chewy foods, take over-the-counter pain relievers, use ice and heat packs, get plenty of rest, and seek medical attention as soon as possible.
  • In some cases, TMJ symptoms will appear immediately following a car accident, and in others, they may be delayed, often up to a year.
  • An experienced attorney knowledgeable in personal injury law can advocate on your behalf by compiling evidence, determining negligence, assessing injuries, calculating financial losses, and filing a car accident claim.

The force of a motor vehicle accident is enough to crumple metal; it is unimaginable to think about the damage it can have on the human body. If you experience jaw pain or TMJ after an accident, it could be due to whiplash and easily looked over as an issue.

It is important to seek medical attention to get a diagnosis of your jaw pain after a car accident. You may have injuries that are not easily detectable, which can cause you serious complications. Medical treatment, whether short-term or long-term, might cost a significant amount.

If you live in Michigan, you may be eligible to receive compensation to cover the costs of your treatment plan and other losses you have suffered. The experienced car accident attorneys at Matz Injury Law can help. Call us today to obtain a free consultation at 866-226-6833.

Michigan Car Accident Injury Statistics

If you were just injured in a Michigan car accident, you are not alone. In 2022, there were 293,341 total car crashes across the state. Of those accidents, 51,066 resulted in injury, while 1,053 were fatal. Our goal as accident injury attorneys is to advocate for your rights after a crash, and we genuinely hope that everyone involved is safe.

Jaw Pain After a Car Accident in Michigan?

Jaw pain is an often overlooked injury after a car crash. Make an appointment to see your healthcare practitioner or visit the emergency room for any severe pain or if it is difficult to move your jaw. Immediate steps to take while waiting to obtain a medical evaluation can include:

  • Avoiding hard and chewy foods
  • Keeping to a soft food diet
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Using ice and heat packs
  • Getting plenty of rest

If you or a loved one experiences jaw pain in the aftermath of a crash, it is vital to seek medical attention right away.

Related Article: Without a Lawyer, Can I Settle My Auto Injury Case?

What Causes Jaw Pain After a Car Crash?

The force of a car crash can cause sudden movement. If your head hits the airbag, steering wheel, dashboard, window, or other objects in the car during a collision, it can intese cause jaw pain.

A low-impact crash at 30 mph could cause extreme forces, as high as 12 tons without the use of a seat belt. Even when a car occupant is wearing a seat belt, that same 30 mph crash can create a force of 1.6 tons. With this type of intense force, a car accident victim can suffer jaw pain and other injuries. Whiplash is the most common cause of jaw pain for car accident victims in Michigan.

What is Whiplash Trauma?

Upon the impact of an auto accident, the driver and passengers can be thrown or bounced within the vehicle, causing a sharp pushing and pulling movement the body is not prepared to absorb. This is common in rear-end collisions, and whiplash is a significant contributor to neck pain.

It can create jaw disorders as well. Even if your jaw is not directly affected by the impact, whiplash injuries can impair chewing abilities. In other words, you do not even have to have hit your jaw to suffer TMJ.

What is TMJ Disorder?

Temporomandibular joint disorder, typically called TMJ, affects the two joints found on both sides of your face, in front of your ears. These joints connect your skull and lower jawbone and are critical for chewing and speaking.

TMJs are one of the most complex joints in the body and are critical to helping the mandible (the largest bone in the human skull) move up and down. If the movement between the mandible and joints becomes misaligned, you might experience pain, low range of motion, or difficulty talking, eating, yawning, and other movements.

What Are the Symptoms Associated with TMJ After a Car Accident?

diagram of TMD/TMJ symptoms

If you or a loved one experiences specific symptoms after a car accident, you should see a physician immediately. TMJ symptoms do not always appear immediately. Even if symptoms do not seem severe, it is imperative to speak to a professional to ensure a more severe problem is not lurking beneath the surface. The following are common symptoms of a TMJ injury.

Locked Jaw

In a TMJ injury, especially a severe one, the jaw can “lock” with a misalignment. This means the person is unable to move their jaw. In some cases, fixing a locked jaw requires surgery.


Migraines after a car accident might signify you have TMJ due to the muscle tightening that occurs.


Oftentimes, TMJ affects the middle or inner ear, which can cause head spinning or dizziness. Inflammation in your jaw joint can throw off your balance and cause vertigo.

Pain While Eating

If you notice difficulty chewing certain foods, especially tough, chewy, or crunchy foods, and are in pain, this could be a sign of TMJ. Other symptoms of TMJ include clicking or “popping” sounds when moving your lower jaw, facial pain, facial swelling, ear pain or ringing (tinnitus), and fatigue.

Related Article: Does Personal Injury Protection Cover Physical Therapy?

What Are Possible Causes For Jaw Pain After an Accident?

woman in pain holding her jaw

Unfortunately, jaw pain is common after a car accident. While TMJ injuries are one of the most often overlooked injuries, there are other possible causes of jaw pain. These include the following.

  • Bruised jaw: If you have difficulty speaking, cannot close your mouth, or have a protruding or misaligned jaw after a car accident, your jaw is likely bruised and swollen.
  • Broken jaw:  If you experience tinnitus, dizziness, difficulty speaking, eating, or opening your jaw muscles, you could have a broken or fractured jaw. Pain is usually quite intense.
  • Dislocated jaw: Problems chewing, talking, or widely opening (or closing) the mouth might signal you have a dislocated jaw.

A licensed medical professional can examine you, discuss your symptoms, and determine the cause of your jaw pain. It is important not to ignore new sensations after suffering a car accident. Even minor discomfort or pain could signal a bigger jaw issue, a skull fracture, spinal injury, traumatic brain injury, or ligament or soft tissue damage.

Why Do I Have Ear Pain After a Car Accident?

Unfortunately, for some Michigan accident victims, ear pain may also emerge. The pressure associated with the force of impact can cause damage to your ear canal, a sensitive part of your skull that is complex in nature. Symptoms commonly experienced include difficulty hearing, pain, dizziness, nausea, ear ringing (tinnitus), and a “blocked ear” feeling. See a doctor right away to discuss treatment options.

Related Article: What To Do After A Car Accident Leaves A Passenger Injured

Gathering Evidence After Your Michigan Car Crash

If your car accident left you with jaw pain, an experienced personal injury lawyer who is well-versed in Michigan law can help. The attorneys at Matz Injury Law are here for you and will advocate and support you every step of the way.

  • Gather evidence relating to the crash
  • Determine negligence
  • Assess your injuries from the collision
  • Calculate your financial losses for your injuries
  • Help you to file your car accident claim

If you suffer jaw pain, chances are you have medical bills from seeing doctors, dentists, radiologists, surgeons, ENTs, physical therapists, occupational therapists, chiropractors, or other professionals. Schedule a free consultation with our legal team today to learn how we can help you.

Related Article: Is Your Injury Case Settlement Taxable?

Why Clients Choose Matz Injury Law

Our law firm is dedicated, first and foremost, to advocating for accident victims’ rights, which includes obtaining just compensation for injuries. Earning over $300 million dollars for our clients to date, we continue to strive for positive outcomes in each case we represent.

With decades of experience and solid knowledge of personal injury and insurance law, we focus on building the attorney-client relationship and being there for you when you need us the most. Below are a few of the client testimonials Matz Injury Law has received, and they show why clients choose us during such challenging times.


“Mr. Matz was great helping me after my auto accident. I had no idea what was going on or where to turn, but he led me in the correct direction and to the right kind of doctors I needed to treat my injuries. He was there to answer any questions, and he still is, even if it does not have to do with the case he represented me on. His son is very helpful and caring also!” – Judy. W.

“If you need an injury attorney, then Steve Matz is the attorney you want. He went above and beyond his responsibilities with my case. My case had several different parts (uninsured driver, medical, employer, and insurance company), and Steve was able to assist with most of the ones he couldn’t. He was able to give us another attorney’s name. He is a great listener, and he gets to the point with any questions. I would recommend Steve to anyone – thank you so much, Steve, for all your help.” – Chris N.

Hire a TMJ Lawyer in Michigan

Jaw pain and ear pain can hurt your quality of life. At Matz Injury Law, we are very experienced and highly equipped to handle car accident cases involving injuries such as TMJ. To date, we have earned more than $300 million for our Michigan clients and will work hard to help you get a settlement.

Steven Matz and his compassionate and caring legal team have been practicing law in Michigan for decades, having logged hundreds of thousands of miles traveling to virtually every county in Michigan’s lower and upper peninsulas. We value our clients and want to see you get the help you need. Our fee is 22% of any recovery, far lower than the standard 33% in our industry.

If you would like to obtain a free case evaluation, contact Matz Injury Law at 866-226-6833 or fill out our online contact form.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Soon After a Car Accident Can TMJ Symptoms Appear?

In some cases, TMJ symptoms will appear immediately following a car accident, and in others, these signs are delayed. You may not develop the jaw pain and TMJ for another month, and sometimes, it may take years for them to appear.

How Common is TMJ Dysfunction After a Car Accident?

TMJ dysfunction following a car accident is common in many cases. According to reports of the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA), up to one-third of those accident victims who experienced whiplash develop temporomandibular joint pain within one year of the crash.

Are There Any Specific Laws or Regulations in Michigan Regarding Compensation for TMJ Injuries From Car Accidents?

In Michigan, you will need to begin a claim for TMJ under the mandatory no-fault insurance benefits of your policy shortly after the accident. The legal deadline (or statute of limitations) for filing a personal injury claim, however, is three years. If symptoms and diagnosis of TMJ are delayed, discuss your situation and options with an experienced personal injury attorney to determine how to recover losses due to this condition.