Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C. | December 22, 2020 | Medical Malpractice
Dental care is essential to whole health. Proper dental care generally involves effective brushing and flossing and routine cleanings. Most dentists perform comprehensive evaluations, including X-rays, periodically.
There are times when dental care is necessary for serious conditions. Procedures like tooth extractions, cavity fillings, root canals, or oral surgeries are sophisticated.
When sophisticated requirements exist, the potential for error is high. If you had an unexpected injury from a dental procedure, you may wonder what to do next. Can you file a dental malpractice claim for compensation for damages caused by your injury?
Dentists’ Liability for Dental Procedures
Dentists, orthodontists, and oral surgeons are liable for injuries caused by their errors during a course of treatment. If a dentist’s professional negligence causes injury to a patient, the patient may be entitled to file a malpractice lawsuit.
To be eligible to file a dental malpractice claim, the four (4) elements of medical malpractice must be proven in the patient’s case. What are the four essential elements?
In most cases, it’s not hard to prove the dentist-patient relationship exists. If you obtained treatment at a dentist’s office, you probably meet the patient threshold. Evidence of a relationship includes completed formal paperwork identifying services and payment expectations.
An Appropriate Standard of Medical Care Exists
The appropriate medical standard must be relative to the procedure at issue. If such a standard exists, it is not difficult to prove. It does require a medical expert to testify as to the appropriate standard of care. The expert will tell the court what the dentist would have been expected to do. To testify as an expert, the witness must have experience with the particular procedure to testify as to the appropriate expectations.
The Dentist Breached the Standard of Care
Like the existence of the medical standard of care, a medical expert must testify to this. The medical expert should explain how the dentist did not act appropriately under the standard of care. This involves showing the acts the standard of care required the dentist to make, the acts they undertook instead, and how their acts led to an injury.
The Breach of Care Caused the Patient’s Injury
If a dentist fails to meet the standard of care, a patient cannot get compensation if they weren’t injured. To assert a malpractice claim, a patient must show that the dentist’s negligence caused an injury resulting in damage. Testimony from a medical expert can link the patient’s injuries to the dentist’s actions.
If you think these four elements exist in your case and can help you prove dental malpractice, you may have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Typical Dental Malpractice Cases
Like medical malpractice cases, some dental procedures lead to malpractice claims more often than others. Typical fact scenarios forming the basis for a dental malpractice claim include:
- Failure to diagnose risky conditions that threaten a patient, like TMJ or oral cancer
- Wrongful tooth extraction (wrong tooth or wrong patient)
- Failure to treat dental complications like infections
- Improper anesthesia administration
In each situation described above, the dentist failed to act as expected under the appropriate standard of care. That failure caused an injury resulting in damage, whether a missing tooth, an infection, or mental and physical suffering.
If you or a loved one suffered an injury from negligent dental care, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. If you think your case has all four elements of a malpractice claim, contact a personal injury lawyer to learn about your legal rights.