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Dental Negligence Lawyers

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What Is Dental Negligence?

Dental negligence, otherwise known as dental malpractice, is a type of personal injury that occurs when a dental professional fails to competently perform his or her duties based on a professional standard of care, resulting in harm to the patient. This includes injuries resulting from a "botched" procedure, as well as those resulting from a failure to diagnose (or misdiagnosis of) a dental issue, such as oral cancer.

Examples of dental negligence claims:

  • Failure to detect or diagnose periodontal diseases
  • Failure to properly examine a patient for dental disorders
  • Exceeding the scope of consent for treatment
  • Improper use of dental instruments
  • Improper administration of anesthesia
  • Improper or unnecessary treatment or surgery
  • Nerve damage
  • Oral infections

What Is the Standard of Care in Dental Negligence Cases?

In ordinary negligence cases, the plaintiff must show that the defendant failed to exercise the level of care of a reasonable and prudent person under similar circumstances. However, in cases involving a certain type of profession, such as the dental profession, the customs of that profession are instead used to set the standard of care. Therefore, in dental negligence cases, the plaintiff must show that the defendant failed to exercise the skill and knowledge normally exercised by reasonable dental professionals of average skill. This will likely require expert testimony regarding what constitutes a reasonable level of care in the dental profession.

What Types of Recovery Are Available in Dental Negligence Cases?

Recovery in any personal injury lawsuit is typically divided into economic and non-economic damages:

Economic damages reimburse the plaintiff for actual monetary losses suffered. Also called specific or special damages, this amount is easily quantifiable and includes the cost of medical bills, lost wages, and diminished future earnings.

Non-economic damages represent compensation for the injury itself and are more difficult to quantify. Also called general damages, this form of recovery requires the jury to assign a monetary value to the injury itself, pain and suffering, and any resulting disability or disfigurement.

What Defenses Can a Dental Professional Raise?

A professional accused of dental negligence may raise the following defenses:

  • Comparative Negligence: Plaintiffs are also required to exercise proper care for their own safety and must not take actions which could exacerbate existing injuries. If the defendant can show that the plaintiff contributed to his or her own injuries the jury will assign each party a percentage of fault and, depending on the laws of the state, the plaintiff’s recovery will either be reduced or barred.
  • Statute of Limitations: Dental malpractice claims must be brought within a certain period of time, which varies from state to state. Allowing the statute of limitations to run bars recovery for the personal injury.

Do I Need an Experienced Dental Negligence Attorney?

If you have been injured by dental negligence, you should speak to an attorney immediately to learn more about the value of your case and what types of recovery are available to you. A personal injury lawyer with experience in dental negligence will be able to evaluate your case and advise you accordingly.

Photo of page author Alezah Trigueros

, LegalMatch Legal Writer and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 08-19-2015 09:37 AM PDT

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