Dental Malpractice – Examples and an Overview
Written by Cooper & Friedman PLLC on February 22, 2016
Dental malpractice is often the result of improper care or negligence by a dental surgeon.
In order to file a dental malpractice lawsuit, you must have evidence that shows that you have suffered serious injuries, pain and suffering as the result of this malpractice.
Many cases of dental malpractice include improper teeth extraction, errors during dental surgery, failure to diagnose or properly treat complications of dental care including infections, incorrect diagnoses, and failure to properly supervise employees like dental hygienists.
Lawsuits involving dental malpractice could also be filed for wrongfully administered anesthesia, failure to refer a patient to an appropriate specialist or failure to obtain informed consent from the patient before proceeding with dental procedures.
A dentist is held to the same level of standard as a practicing physician in law. When he or she fails to treat his patients with proper care or information, this could result in serious and even life-threatening injury.
Legal Issues to Understand with Dental Malpractice Cases
The laws covering dental malpractice cases include common law or the law created by legal precedents. Additionally, every state has its own regulations pertaining to dental malpractice. State-based statutes cover issues related to damages, discoveries, and requirements around filings.
When filing a dental malpractice lawsuit, the patient and their attorney must be able to prove a relationship between the patient and the dentist. There must be an acknowledgement of the appropriate standard of care with proof that the standard of care was breached. The patient must also be able to show proof of injury or negligence resulting in personal injury and/or monetary loss.
The medical standard of care is important to a case such as dental malpractice. This means that a practicing dentist within the same skill-set would provide the same level of care as the practicing dentist had for the patient. If you are suing your dentist for failing to diagnose a medical condition such as oral cancer, the expert witness for this case would be a dentist that has been able to diagnose and treat patients that have oral cancer.
When filing a lawsuit, it is important to hire a lawyer that has a solid understanding of dentistry malpractice cases and personal injury law. Once you have filed a plea or complaint with the court, the defendant in the case, in this example, the dentist, will have about 30 days to respond. From there, you and your lawyer will exchange documents and medical files with your dentist.
A dental malpractice case may include witnesses, documents and first-hand accounts from the dentist and the plaintiff. Most times in these lawsuits, cases get settled outside of court. If this settlement fails, the case will then proceed to trial. It is recommended that patients filing a dental malpractice case have proper documentation of injuries and suffering in order to make a solid case in court.
If you need legal advice regarding a dental malpractice case, Cooper and Friedman attorneys can help. And as always, we offer free consultations and do not charge fees for our legal services unless we get you a settlement or are successful in court.