How Do You Win a Dental Malpractice Lawsuit?

Dental malpractice occurs when the treatment provided by dental health care professionals falls below the acceptable standard of care causing serious personal injuries.  Like other areas of professional malpractice, dental malpractice is a form of negligence.  Dentists are usually working hard to make sure that their patients are well cared for, but there are far too many mistakes which could have been prevented.  In fact, it has been estimated that 1 out of every 7 medical malpractice cases directly involves a dental malpractice issue.

How Dental Malpractice May Be Determined

There may be a level of subjectivity in determining what does or does not qualify as dental malpractice, but there may generally be a blueprint for how any individual question of negligence is litigated.  A major component of dental malpractice lawsuits is the dental / medical standard of care.  All medical professionals are held to this standard (also known as the “duty of care”), which means that they are responsible for providing the same level of medical care that a similarly skilled professional would have provided under the same treatment circumstances.

Elements of a Dental Malpractice Lawsuit  

The elements of a successful dental malpractice claim may include:

  • Proving that you had a dentist-patient relationship with the person you are alleging dental malpractice against
  • Showing that the dentist had a duty of care to you
  • Establishing that the dentist breached their duty of care to you in some way
  • Establishing causation between the dentist’s breach of duty of care and the damages that you or your loved one suffered as a result

This means that you cannot file a dental malpractice lawsuit just because a dental provider made a simple mistake or you feel unsatisfied with your treatment.  Actual avoidable harm must have occurred to constitute dental malpractice.

Examples of Dental Malpractice Include:

  • Failure to inform the patient of all available treatment options and the associated risks and benefits related to each
  • Failure to refer to a specialist
  • Failure to properly diagnose oral cancer or periodontal (gum) disease
  • Causing nerve damage by improperly placing dental implants or improperly extracting wisdom teeth
  • Incorrect use of dental anesthesia resulting in complications or even death
  • Faulty root canals, crowns, implants, veneers, or dental bridges resulting in injury / infections to the jaw, face and gums
  • Tooth loss due to faulty restorations

How to Build a Winning Dental Malpractice Lawsuit

Now that you understand the basic elements of a dental malpractice claim, a question becomes how do you go about proving that your dentist caused your injury and that your treatment by the dental provider was indeed substandard and negligent?

Initially, you should maintain evidence to support your dental malpractice lawsuit which may include:

  • Dental and medical records from another dental or medical provider which verify and document your injuries
  • Photographs which depict your injuries and their effect on your life
  • Copies of communications with the dental provider / dental office which caused your injury, which may include letters, e-mails, text messages as examples
  • Keep a journal of your symptoms, complaints as well as interactions with the dental provider who caused your injury
  • Statements from any witnesses, family or friends who were either present during your procedures(s) or have witnessed their effects.

Then contact a lawyer.  An experienced dental malpractice attorney can assist you in determining whether you are able to pursue a lawsuit.  Your lawyer may:

  • Hire expert witnesses to testify to the standard of care in dentistry, as it pertains to your specific circumstances
  • Have experts testify to how common dental malpractice is, and how common the specific error that you are alleging is
  • Compare the standard of care versus the actions (or failures to act) that you believe caused you harm
  • Present any evidence that suggests you were the victim of negligence

Proving negligence is important to winning a lawsuit, but may not be the only way that a lawyer may be able to assist you or your loved one.

How Else a Lawyer May Be Able to Assist Your Dental Malpractice Claim

Beyond the issue of proving the defendant’s wrongdoing, your lawyer may be able to:

  • Calculate the total amount of losses that you sustained, and itemize those losses within your argument for compensation
  • Create a written argument for how you were the victim of negligence, and why you deserve compensation as a result
  • Represent you in any necessary in-person appearances pertaining to your lawsuit
  • Negotiate a settlement with attorneys and / or the malpractice carrier(s) for the defendant(s) named in your lawsuit
  • Defend your rights throughout the term of your lawsuit, any preliminary periods, and any subsequent periods in which your lawyer represents you

Hiring a lawyer can:

  • Allow you to focus on your recovery or assist a loved one injured in a dental malpractice incident
  • Prevent you from any added stress you would take on from bringing a lawsuit on your own
  • Provide valuable assistance as you attempt to obtain any compensation to which you may be entitled

If successful, you may be able to collect awards covering:

  • The cost of your dental care
  • Income you lost because of the injuries you suffered
  • Permanent harm you suffered—either physically, mentally, or financially
  • Pain and suffering
  • Any other losses related to a dental malpractice injury

Consider whether hiring a lawyer may be worthwhile in the period after you suffer harm because of dental malpractice.  Our New York dental malpractice attorney has over 30 years of legal experience, is a licensed dentist himself, and has been selected as a Super Lawyer for 2021.  To learn more about how Attorney Jordan R. Pine can help you if you have been the victim of dental malpractice, call (888) – 7 DENTLAW for a free consultation.  Take Comfort – You will have peace of mind that an attorney who is a licensed dentist is providing professional representation for you.