When you hear the term medical malpractice, chances are you assume that only doctors, nurses and other hospital staff will be held accountable for a mistake or negligence. However, what you might not know is that as a medical professional, your dentist must also adhere to the same high standards as anyone in the health care field.
If you suspect your dentist was negligent, you may have the right to sue them for medical malpractice. Here are a few frequently asked questions you might have about dental malpractice.
What Exactly Is Dental Malpractice?
When your doctor is negligent, or does not perform their duties to their best abilities, and you are injured because of this negligence, this is considered medical malpractice. Dental malpractice occurs because of the same avoidable issue: negligence.
However, just because you were injured during a dental procedure doesn’t mean you are able to file a lawsuit. For a case to be considered dental malpractice, the injury sustained must have a significant or lasting impact on the patient’s health. Whether the dentist made a mistake and you healed quickly or they did everything correct and you suffered an injury, it doesn’t mean that you can file a malpractice lawsuit.
What Are the Common Causes of Dental Malpractice?
There are several different causes of dental malpractice, but there are some that are more common. Here are a few of the most common types of dental malpractice:
- Failure to refer patients. If a dentist doesn’t have the knowledge or training to complete a procedure, a specialist should be consulted. If this doesn’t occur and the patient’s condition worsens, it could be grounds for a lawsuit.
- Lack of follow-up treatment. In addition to providing a patient with aftercare instructions, the dentist should follow up with the patient. If this doesn’t occur and the neglect negatively impacts the patient’s prognosis, it could be considered malpractice.
- Informed consent. Before a procedure, every medical professional, including dentists, must provide information about the treatment that the patient can understand. Informed consent is critical, and if the patient doesn’t understand the negative aspects of the procedure and suffers a lasting injury, the dentist could face a lawsuit.
- Dental errors. When a dental error occurs, and the error was caused by negligence, the patient might have grounds for a lawsuit.
One of the most common and potentially devastating examples of dental malpractice is the failure for a dental professional to diagnose oral cancer.
Should I Allow My Dentist to Correct the Error?
If your dentist made a negligent error, and this error led to a serious injury, you might consider simply allowing them to remedy the situation instead of filing a lawsuit. However, before you choose this option, keep in mind that the dentist’s negligence led to your continued pain, and you have the right to seek compensation.
When Should I Hire an Attorney?
If you suspect you are the victim of dental negligence or aren’t sure if you have a case, don’t hesitate to contact an attorney right away. A qualified attorney can help you determine if the dental injury or illness was caused by negligence and how to proceed. Remember, you also have a statute of limitations to file a claim. If you’re not sure about the statute of limitations in your state, contact your attorney.
Attempting to file a lawsuit against the dentist on your own if very difficult and time consuming. Instead, an attorney can help lead you through all the necessary steps, which can help you formulate a more thorough and successful lawsuit.
For example, your attorney will work on your behalf to obtain all your dental records, hire dental experts to look over those records and continue to find evidence to support your case. Your attorney will also provide you with options to reach a settlement. These could be anything from mediation to a traditional trial.
What Types Compensation Can I Seek?
Finally, if your lawsuit is successful, depending on the circumstances of your case, you will be entitled to several different types of compensation. Often, this includes money to cover any follow-up care or procedures that were required because of the dentist’s negligence. Compensation also includes money for procedures that you might require in several years. Lastly, you’ll be compensated for any money you paid to the dentist.
Additionally, if you also paid out of pocket for medical experts, this expense will often be reimbursed. The pain and suffering you experienced because of the dentist’s negligence also entitles you to seek further compensation. You may also be entitled to any lost wages that resulted because of your dentist’s negligence.
Dental malpractice a common and often devastating issue. If you suspect you are the victim of dental negligence, don’t hesitate to contact the professionals at Otorowski Morrow and Golden, PLLC.