Unlike traditional medical malpractice suits, which usually arise from botched surgery or the administration of harmful medications, most injuries which occur as a result of dental malpractice can easily be corrected. As a result, dental injuries are usually not substantial enough to be worth filing a lawsuit. However, an injured patient should always contact an attorney for advice since the legal concepts can be difficult to understand.
When suing a dentist for medical malpractice, the injured party (the plaintiff) must prove the following in order to be successful in a lawsuit against the dentist (the defendant):
Dentists may be sued for a variety of incidents resulting in injury from dental work. Examples include, but are not limited to:
Dentists can sometimes put forth successful dental malpractice defenses in a lawsuit. It may be difficult to sue a dentist for the following injuries:
Pulling the wrong tooth: Depends. Although pain is experienced, it is usually not enough of an injury to sue for. This is because the injury can usually be easily corrected. For example, the dentist could provide the patient with two implants free of charge. Additionally, if the dentist actually believed they pulled out a tooth that was causing your pain and then later determined that the tooth was not the cause of the pain, a patient may only sue if the dentist should have known it was the wrong tooth.
"Doing bad work": Again, this depends. Expert testimony will be required to determine whether this is just the patient’s opinion, whether that opinion is reasonable and whether the dentist’s conduct fell below the standard of care. Also, the court will consider whether the injury can be easily corrected.
If you suspect that your dentist committed dental malpractice and you want to sue for your injuries, it is important to speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. This is because there are time limits for bringing a lawsuit, which varies by state (known as a statute of limitations). For example, generally an injured patient must file within five years of the last date of service or within three years of the date of discovering the injury.
A lawyer can order your dental records and have an expert look them over to determine if there is enough evidence to potentially win a case. Most personal injury lawyers will also take these cases on a contingency basis, meaning you only have to pay if you win the case and that payment is taken out of your winnings.
Last Modified: 03-31-2017 02:05 AM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
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