tmj injury lawyer - edmonton - temporomandibular joint dysfunction

Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ) is a serious injury of the jaw joint. It may be temporary, or it may cause moderate pain and suffering, or it can be severe and cause suffering for years. If it lasts for several years or is permanent, the amount you will be required to pay personally for expensive future dental treatment costs will be in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Handel Law Firm – Red Deer
Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ) Injury Lawyers

Personal Injury Law Firm
You pay no fees until we are successful
Call for a free case evaluation for your TMJ injury:

Red Deer: 403-314-1199
TMJ Injury Compensation Information:
How much is my TMJ injury claim worth?

TMJ Symptoms

If you suffer from any of the following symptoms, you could, in fact, have a TMJ injury and should consult legal advice:

  • Jaw joint pain
  • Face pain
  • Ear pain
  • Headaches
  • Tooth pain
  • Tingling extremities
  • Neck, shoulder and back pain
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

From a dental-legal point of view, the diagnosis of TMJ dysfunction is often done with x-rays, MRI or CT Scans. The advantage of radiological scans is that the scans will show objective evidence of injury which of course makes it much easier to prove it is a serious injury to the defendant insurance company.

TMJ Injuries May or May Not be Capped in Alberta!

You should be aware that between 2004 and 2018 a TMJ injury was not a capped claim under Alberta’s Minor Injury Regulation. Decided Alberta cases have specifically held that injury to the TMJ is not subject to the cap on general damages for pain and suffering prior to June 1, 2018.

TMJ Dysfunction Cases may now be capped.  Alberta enacted changes to the Minor Injury Regulation for all motor vehicle accidents in Alberta that occur after June 1, 2018.

One main change included in this amendment are that temporomandibular jaw (“TMJ”) injuries are now included in the Minor Injury Regulation. Here is the exact wording from the Minor Injury Regulation:

(2) For the purposes of this Regulation, an injury in respect of an accident involving or surrounding the temporomandibular joint is a sprain, strain or WAD injury unless the injury involves

(a) damage to bone or teeth, or

(b) damage to or displacement of the articular disc.

(3) Subsection (2) applies only in respect of an injury described in that subsection that occurs on or after June 1, 2018.

So if your TMJ injury also involves damage to your jaw bone or fractured teeth or lost teeth, etc. OR your dentist tells you the “articular disc” inside your jaw joint has been damaged, then your TMJ case is NOT capped.

If you have a TMJ injury do not accept the insurance adjuster’s suggestion that TMJ injuries are capped soft tissue injuries. Call our office immediately at 403-314-1199 for a free consultation. We cannot emphasize this enough.  You could settle your claim for just above the cap amount of $5,000.00 and it could be worth $100,000.00!

Prior to June 1, 2018 the seminal Alberta decision of Sparrowhawk vs. Zapoltinsky, 2012 ABQB 34 (CanLII), by Madam Justice Shelley was a thorough and comprehensive analysis of the nature of a TMJ injury with heavy reliance upon dental experts from both the plaintiff and the defendant to arrive at the conclusion that a TMJ injury is not capped in Alberta.  Much of this reasoning is still applicable in analyzing TMJ injuries after the June, 1, 2018 amendments.


The court concluded that the TMJ dysfunction is not a minor injury for three reasons:

  1. The injury is not a sprain, strain or WAD in that TMJ injury more likely than not involves damage to the TMJ’s cartilage. The court found based upon dental expert evidence that the cartilage is a kind of tissue found in joints that assists in the smooth movement of body parts through that joint’s axis and therefore it is not the muscle tendon or ligament as defined by the Minor Injury Cap Regulation.
  2. The injury causes serious impairment. The Minor Injury Regulation excludes or does not cap any minor injury that causes a “serious impairment”. Evaluation of serious impairment, in turn, has five steps:
    1. Whether a physical or cognitive function is impaired;
    2. Whether a sprain, strain or WAD injury is “the primary factor contributing to the impairment”;
    3. Does the impairment cause substantial inability to perform, essential work tasks, essential facets of training or education, or normal activities of daily living;
    4. Whether the impairment has been “ongoing” since the accident; and
    5. Whether the impairment is not expected to “improve substantially”.

    To establish a “serious impairment” the victim must fulfill all of the above requirements – which is a high bar to pass. However, a moderate or severe TMJ injury passes that bar and therefore is considered a serious impairment even if it involved the muscles, tendons, and ligaments, which the court found it does not.

  3. The third reason the court found the TMJ injury is not subject to the Minor Injury Regulation is that the minor injury scheme established by the Alberta Legislature does not include dental injuries. Noted, correctly, in our opinion, that since the Minor Injury Regulation does not require dental expertise in evaluating minor injuries, and since TMJ dysfunction is a dental injury, the only conclusion one can reach is that minor injuries involving dental expertise are not part of the minor injury cap.

Therefore, the bottom-line is to not allow an insurance adjuster to suggest to you that a TMJ injury is subject to the minor injury cap on pain and suffering.

TMJ Treatment Costs

In making a claim for a TMJ injury you should be aware that the dental costs can be significant. We have had cases, where the future dental treatment costs recovered, are approaching $100,000.00 for a severe TMJ injury.

If you have a slight TMJ injury the types of treatment which may be effective are not costly and they include eating soft foods, applying ice packs and refraining from wide mouth movements such as deep yawning or gum chewing. As well certain over-the-counter medications may provide relief.

For more serious TMJ injuries a stabilization splint may be prescribed by your dentist which are costly as they must be replaced as they wear down from chewing.

Permanent treatments include a crown and bridge work. Surgery is also an option. One surgery is modified condylotomy. This surgery is performed through the mouth and behind the molar teeth. The surgeon creates a vertical cut in the lower jaw, or mandible to create more joint space. The hope is that this will unload the joint while maintaining an unchanged bite and thereby decreases the symptoms of TMJ dysfunction.

However, the most common form of treatment remains splint therapy. But splint therapy can be expensive. Splints can easily cost $2,000.00 and some splints must be replaced every six months. If you have a long term TMJ problem, obviously, this future treatment cost will add up quickly.

Contact Handel Law Firm now and let us determine if your case is serious enough to warrant hiring a lawyer to advance the claim against the insurance company for the party at fault in the collision.

Handel Law Firm – Red Deer
Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ) Injury Lawyers

Personal Injury Law Firm
You pay no fees until we are successful
Call for a free case evaluation for your TMJ injury:

Red Deer: 403-314-1199
TMJ Injury Compensation Information:
How much is my TMJ injury claim worth?

Handel Law Firm

Red Deer: 403-314-1199

“Brent is a very capable, compassionate and practical lawyer who is
very experienced in handling serious personal injury claims.”

Cheryl Y Bartel