Dental malpractice: What you need to know
Dental malpractice is a type of medical malpractice that occurs when a dentist or dental professional fails to provide their patient with the proper standard of care, resulting in injury or harm. Dental malpractice can take many forms, including:
Diagnosis errors: A dentist may misdiagnose a patient's dental condition, leading to improper treatment and complications.
Treatment errors: A dentist may make a mistake during a dental procedure, such as damaging a tooth nerve or leaving a foreign object in the patient's mouth.
Failure to diagnose or treat a condition: A dentist may fail to diagnose or treat a patient's dental condition, such as gum disease or tooth decay, leading to further complications.
Use of defective dental products: A dentist may use a defective dental product, such as a faulty dental implant or contaminated dental materials, causing injury to the patient.
Signs and symptoms of dental malpractice
The signs and symptoms of dental malpractice can vary depending on the nature of the injury. However, some common signs and symptoms include:
Pain and swelling: Pain and swelling in the mouth, gums, or teeth can be a sign of dental malpractice, such as a nerve injury or an infection.
Difficulty chewing or speaking: Difficulty chewing or speaking can be a sign of dental malpractice, such as a misaligned jaw or a damaged tooth.
Tooth loss: Tooth loss can be a sign of dental malpractice, such as a failed dental implant or a botched root canal.
Infection: Infection in the mouth, gums, or teeth can be a sign of dental malpractice, such as the use of contaminated dental materials or improper sterilization of dental instruments.
What to do if you think you may be a victim of dental malpractice
If you think you may be a victim of dental malpractice, it is important to take the following steps:
Seek medical attention immediately. If you are experiencing any pain, swelling, or difficulty chewing or speaking, it is important to see a doctor or dentist right away.
Document everything. Keep a record of all of your dental appointments, treatments, and communications with your dentist. This will be helpful if you decide to pursue legal action.
Contact a personal injury lawyer. A personal injury lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and options and can represent you in court if you decide to file a lawsuit against your dentist.
How to prevent dental malpractice
There are a number of things you can do to help prevent dental malpractice, including:
Choose a qualified dentist. Make sure your dentist is licensed and board-certified. You can check with your state dental board to verify a dentist's credentials.
Get a second opinion. If you are not sure about a proposed treatment, get a second opinion from another dentist.
Ask questions. Don't be afraid to ask your dentist questions about their treatment recommendations. Make sure you understand the risks and benefits of any procedure before you agree to it.
Be your own advocate. Speak up if you have any concerns about your dental care. You have the right to refuse any treatment that you are not comfortable with.
What to expect in a dental malpractice lawsuit
If you decide to file a dental malpractice lawsuit, the first step will be to file a complaint with the court. The complaint will outline the facts of your case and the damages that you are seeking.
Once the complaint has been filed, the defendant (your dentist) will be served with a summons and complaint. The defendant will then have an opportunity to respond to the complaint.
If the case cannot be resolved through settlement negotiations, it will go to trial. At trial, the plaintiff (you) will have the opportunity to present their case to the jury. The defendant will also have the opportunity to present their case.
If the jury finds in favor of the plaintiff, they will award damages to the plaintiff. The damages awarded can include compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses.
Dental malpractice can have a devastating impact on the victim's health and well-being. If you think you may be a victim of dental malpractice, it is important to seek medical attention immediately and to contact a personal injury lawyer. A personal injury lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and options and can represent you in court if you decide to file a lawsuit against your dentist.