Can You Sue For Dental Malpractice?

The question “can I sue a dentist for malpractice” usually comes after a horrible experience with a dental care provider. While dental health is important, we all know how scary visiting the dentist is.

For many people, a visit to the dentist takes months of consideration. That’s why it can be particularly damaging when a dentist betrays your trust by providing poor treatment services.

You can sue a dentist for improper treatment, especially when it causes dental health problems. Here, we’ll answer all the questions you have about dental malpractice and suing because of it.

What Is Dental Malpractice?

The answer to can I sue a dentist for malpractice lies in understanding the definition of dental malpractice. In simple terms, dental malpractice describes a situation where a dentist makes mistakes while treating a patient, resulting in a temporary or permanent injury to the patient. The mistakes may be due to neglect, following wrong procedures, avoidable errors, or dental incompetency.

In 2016, the total number of reported medical malpractice cases was around 8500, with 1000 related to dental malpractice. The statistics are an indication of how common dental malpractice is.

How Do I Know If I Should Sue My Dentist?

The decision to sue your dentist depends on whether the situation falls within the borders of what would be considered dental malpractice. While a malpractice lawyer is in the best position to answer these questions, the following considerations can be a pointer.

  • There must be damage to your body system as a result of the dentist’s procedure.
  • The dentist has registered with the right organizations.
  • The dentist followed a process that doesn’t align with the standard procedure for dental treatments.

After confirming the situations above, you can consult a lawyer to explore how to sue the dentist.

What Do I Have to Prove in a Lawsuit Against a Dentist?

Every legal case involves two parties trying to prove claims, and a dental malpractice lawsuit is no different. You, as the affected party, will be the accuser, while the dentist is the defendant.

In a dental malpractice lawsuit, you’ll have to prove the following points;

Duty

The question “can I sue a dentist” is only valid when the dentist has had a dutiful relationship with you as a patient. Simply put, you must have visited the dental center and gotten attention as a patient under their care.

Standard of Care Breach

There’s a standard of care that guides any dental treatment. As the accuser, you must prove the dentist didn’t act according to standard dental treatment procedures. It’s imperative to note that these procedures change from time to time.

Causation

Dental care is extremely risky, and you can sustain injuries during the process. Therefore, some injuries may not exactly be an intentional act.

Consider a scenario where you’re consulting with a legal practitioner. Say you ask can I sue my dentist for pain and suffering. The lawyer will likely ask if it was the doctor’s negligence that caused your pain and suffering. You need enough proof to convince a judge or jury that the dentist’s negligence caused the pain.

Damages

You need to prove that the dental malpractice affected and caused you some damage. In this context, damages aren’t limited to pain in your teeth and mouth.

Damage can include work absence, extra cost implications, among others. The damages will form the evidence a judge needs to prosecute the dentist.

Dental Negligence Case Examples

While asking how can I sue a lawyer for dental malpractice, you should also consider your chances of winning the case. Here are some common examples of successful dental malpractice lawsuits.

Extractions

This type of case usually relates to nerve injuries, and it’s typically valid when the dentist(s) ignore your nerve injury, making it permanent.

Endodontic Procedures

This procedure usually affects the brain, and mistakes can result in death or brain damage. Endodontic procedures come second on the list of expensive dental malpractice lawsuits.

Dental Implants

Dental implants are when you replace your teeth with an implant. Most reported cases involve infections.

Substandard Crown, Bridge Treatment

The most common cases are due to improper planning on a dentist’s part. A dentist installing a substandard dental crown in your mouth can also make your case.

Periodontal Disease

Most periodontal disease cases happen due to a delay in the treatment process.

Orthodontics

This type of case usually has a treatment problem that causes tooth loss in most patients.

Dental Anesthesia Complications

Dental anesthesia complications can result in death or severe damage to internal systems.

Dental Infections

These infections come as an aftermath of poor dental treatment and aftercare. They can be quite severe.

Dental Injections

Some dental injections may affect the nerve due to negligence while administering the injection.

Adverse Drug Reactions

We react to drugs differently. Some dentists may have adverse reactions to drugs. It’s the dentist’s fault if the patient has a documented medical history of reacting negatively to these drugs.

Steps to Take to Sue a Dentist

There’s only one step you should take when trying to sue a dentist — consult a lawyer.

The lawyer’s first duty will be to analyze the situation to decide whether you can sue the dentist for malpractice. After that, the lawyer will prepare a case in line with the laws of your state.

What Does a Successful Dental Malpractice Suit Look Like?

Dental treatments may result in different types of injuries — some major and others minor. For the minor injuries you can live with, it’s best to overlook them. The most successful dental malpractice cases are the ones with major injuries, serious infections, and in some cases, death.

How Much Money Can You Expect in a Dental Malpractice Suit?

If you successfully sue a dentist for malpractice, you can expect an average payment between $60,000 and $70,000.

When Is a Dental Malpractice Lawsuit Difficult to Win?

If the dentist has proof to debunk negligence claims, the dental malpractice lawsuit may be difficult to win. The same goes if state rules don’t precisely align with your claims. Lastly, if you don’t have enough proof of negligence and damages in court, the case may be daunting to win.

Should I Seek the Advice of a Lawyer?

You shouldn’t ask yourself the question, can I sue a dentist for malpractice. Instead, ask a professional lawyer, preferably a dental malpractice lawyer in Richland, WA.

A personal injury attorney will have information about state laws regarding the case. They’ll be able to determine whether you have a legitimate claim. A lawyer can also help you gather evidence and represent you in court.

Final Thoughts

Can I sue a dentist for malpractice is a normal question if you’ve suffered damage due to dental negligence.

Above, we’ve discussed what makes a good dental malpractice case and how to go about it. When in doubt, start by consulting with a personal injury lawyer. Good luck!

Jarrod Hays

Jarrod Hays

Jarrod Hays is the founder of Skyview Law. He is licensed to practice law in Washington State and the Western District of Washington State Federal Court.