Dental malpractice occurs when a dentist fails to follow the accepted standard of care for his profession, resulting in harm to the patient. Dental malpractice can also occur when the dentist has practiced with negligence, incompetence, and malice. These types of practices by a dentist could cause complications and dental damages that could be lifelong for patients.
What Do I Have to Show to Prove Dental Malpractice?
To prove dental malpractice, you must be able to prove the following factors:
- Duty – The dentist must owe a duty to you. This means that he must have accepted you as a patient and agreed to treat you.
- Breach – You must show that the dentist breached his duty by falling below the standard of care. The standard of care is measured against other reasonable dentists of average skill. You may need to bring in other dentists to offer expert testimony about what the reasonable level of care is.
- Causation – You must be able to show that the dentist’s breach of duty caused you harm. If your harm was not the direct cause of the dentist’s breach of duty, you cannot sue him for dental malpractice.
- Damages – You must show that you suffered some sort of harm as a result of the breach. Even if the dentist was blatantly negligent, you cannot sue him for dental malpractice if you didn’t suffer any harm
What Are Some Common Forms of Dental Malpractice?
Dental malpractice encompasses a wide range of incidents resulting in injury from dental work. These incidents may include:
- Failure to detect or diagnose periodontal diseases
- Failure to properly examine a patient for certain dental disorders
- Exceeding the scope of consent for treatment
- Improper use of dental instruments
- Improper administration of anesthesia
- Improper or unnecessary treatment
- Severe nerve damage to face, lips, jaw, or tongue
- Severe oral infects
- Unnecessary surgery
Are There Any Defenses that a Dentist Can Raise?
Proving dental malpractice can be difficult. Establishing the standard of care, and that the breach caused the injury is challenging. However, even if you are able to prove that there was obvious dental malpractice, dentists still have defenses, including:
- Injury: In order for a plaintiff to win on a malpractice claim, the plaintiff must show that the plaintiff suffered injury because of the dentist negligence and that the dentist did not use the standard of care that a reasonable and prudent dentist would exercise in the same situation.
- Statute of Limitations: Dental malpractice claims must be brought within a certain period of time. If you wait to long you will not be able to bring a suit no matter how badly the dentist breached his duty. Statute of limitation periods varies from state to state.
Should I Consult a Lawyer about My Dental Malpractice Issues?
If you think you have been the victim of dental malpractice, you may want to a consumer lawyer experienced in malpractice law. An experienced malpractice lawyer will be able to evaluate your case and advise you accordingly. If need be, your malpractice lawyer can represent you in court and make sure your rights are protected.