Prove Your Dental Malpractice Case
Compared to other medical practices, medical errors or malpractice is rare in dentistry. Even so, it does happen. The Magazine of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry estimates that professionals in this field face the risk of a lawsuit every 10 to 40 years. It is also much more difficult to make a strong case for dental malpractice, compared to other types. Because of this, you need a qualified personal injury lawyer to represent your case and protect your interests.
What Is Dental Malpractice?
Malpractice is a form of personal injury that stems from negligence. It refers to cases where patients receive subpar treatment compared to what they could expect to receive in similar situations at other facilities. This subpar treatment should also cause serious injuries. Dental malpractice refers to such instances that occur at the hands of not just dentists but also dental hygienists and other dental professionals.
Courts may choose to dismiss cases that fail to meet these requirements. An experienced attorney can advise you on whether your case can stand its ground in court and the likelihood of getting the compensation you seek.
What Are Some Common Examples of Dental Malpractice?
When medical errors and negligence happen in the dental field, it can cause you a lot of physical pain. When nerves become exposed or damaged, this worsens. Here are some common examples that patients may successfully make claims for:
- Infection resulting from the dental office’s failure to sanitize properly
- Failure to properly administer anesthesia
- Failure to accurately diagnose and treat conditions
- Injury to gums or nerves
- Fractured or chipped teeth
- Botched tooth extractions
What Are Some Common Causes of Dental Malpractice?
The factors that can lead to malpractice in dentistry are not much different from causes in other medical fields. These are some of the many your attorney may try to prove.
Even a clean-looking office can fail to properly sanitize its equipment. In these instances, bacteria can pass from one patient to the next. If one patient has an infection, subsequent patients treated with the same equipment may develop complications related to this.
Dentists are as prone to exhaustion as most other professionals. Even when they work reasonable hours, their personal lives may cause them to not get enough sleep. All it takes is one sleepy mistake to negatively change someone’s life forever.
Miscommunication may happen among dental professionals or between you and these professionals. When this happens, dental professionals may perform the wrong procedure, treat the wrong person or skip an essential step.
How Can a Patient Prove Dental Malpractice?
There are four key elements a dental malpractice case must have to stand up in court. These elements also provide a map for you and your attorney to build your case:
- There must be a relationship between the health care provider and the patient to establish duty of care.
- Then you must determine and illustrate what the basic standard of care in this scenario should have been.
- You’ll need to show how the dental professional failed to meet these basic standard care requirements
- You must detail the nature of the injury and how serious it is or has become.
What Are the Steps To File a Personal Injury Claim?
The specific steps depend on the jurisdiction the incident occurred in. Note that different states may set different statutes of limitations pertaining to how much time you have to make a claim. In most states, you may get one or two years to do so before it becomes virtually impossible. Your attorney can help you determine what laws are applicable to your case.
1. Collect Evidence
Before you can determine the strength of your case, you need to look at the evidence you have. You also need to review the dated documents you signed concerning the issue in question, such as signed consent forms, prescriptions from the dentists and treatment plans.
2. Consult With an Attorney
Many people successfully pursue personal injury cases on their own. However, when it comes to dental malpractice, you need an attorney with experience handling cases involving medical errors. You may also need confirmation from the attorney that you have a solid case to press forward.
3. Meet Preliminary Requirements
Your state may have laws regarding additional prerequisites before you can move forward. For instance, in some states, it may be in your best interest to first seek a favorable decision from the relevant board of dentistry. Others may require you to seek an affidavit from another health care professional that confirms you have legitimate cause for filing a complaint.
4. File the Complaint
An attorney can assist you with the necessary paperwork for filing a complaint with the court. The dental professional then has a period of time to respond to the complaint, which usually ranges from 20 to 30 days.
5. Exchange Discovery
At this stage, parties in the case need to share records related to the case. This may include not just written medical documents but also expert testimony, witness statements, photo evidence and a full write-up of all the resulting expenses.
6. Resolve the Case
Most cases settle outside of court, because dentists do not want scandal associated with their practices. However, if the insurance companies choose to put up a fight, it could drag out the settlement process. The case might even go to trial. If it does end up in court, your attorney can represent you to increase your chances of a favorable outcome.
Do You Need To Hire an Experienced Local Attorney?
Many states have laws that can add complications to your malpractice case. For instance, some jurisdictions do not draw a hard line on who should be held responsible for blame. In these cases, you could end up being assigned a portion of the blame by the court. Your compensation would then be discounted by the percentage of the blame assigned to you.
Working with an attorney who is familiar with local practices and laws can reduce the likelihood of this. We can connect you with one. Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!