How to Prove Dental Malpractice

Do you believe that your dentist or orthodontist made a grave mistake and cost you severe pain and/or health problems? If so, you may want to speak with a lawyer who has expertise in dental malpractice cases.

If you want to learn how to prove dental malpractice, read our guide below.

What is Dental Malpractice?

Dentists are similar to any other healthcare provider in that they obtained years of education and training, preparing them to work on healing and treating tooth pain and dental issues.

Dentists need to meet the same professional standards of care as any other doctor or nurse. Since teeth cleaning and repair require small, sharp instruments in sensitive parts of the mouth, dentists need to be extra careful to avoid harming a patient.

Dentists are legally required to focus and pay attention to every step they perform when treating a patient. One small mistake could lead to disaster and a dental malpractice case for the dentist.

What to Know About Dental Negligence Lawsuits

To bring forward a dental negligence lawsuit, a patient needs to have significant personal injuries from a dental healthcare provider who provided subpar services and an unacceptable standard of care.

There are four principles you will need to prove when filing a dental negligence lawsuit, which are:

  • Duty
  • Breach of Duty
  • Causation
  • Damages

Proper documentation is essential when filing dental negligence cases. The dental record of the plaintiff needs to have clear steps of events, ongoing treatment plans, and a record of communication between the dental healthcare provider and the patient.

Some other essential documentation includes:

  • Written informed consent for dental procedures
  • Patient’s medical history record
  • A treatment plan
  • Other notes taken during the treatment process

Elements of a Dental Malpractice Lawsuit

Is dental malpractice hard to prove? Well, the plaintiff and their lawyer have to establish elements of a dental malpractice claim. The following elements to have a winning dental malpractice case are:

  • Proof of an existing relationship between the dentist and patient
  • The nature and severity of the patient’s injuries
  • The required standard of care for the specific procedure
  • How the standard of care was broken and led to harm for the patient

You’ll need to prove that the standard of care was inferior compared to a dentist in the same community with similar skills and equal treatment conditions. Usually, medical witnesses are brought in to prove this portion of a dental malpractice lawsuit.

Proof of Existence of Duty Care

If you’re interested in learning how to prove dental malpractice, you will need to understand the importance of proving the existence of duty care.

A duty of care is a legal requirement that an expert or professional needs to follow. It requires a healthcare professional to provide an appropriate level of care when delivering any form of treatment or diagnosis.

While your dentist has a duty of care, you also need to prove you had established a dentist-patient relationship with this healthcare provider. You can do so by providing patients records or insurance bills for medical treatment.

Proof of Failure to Provide the Necessary Standard of Care

How do you win a dental malpractice lawsuit? Well, you will surely need to prove that your dentist failed to provide the necessary standard of care.

You need to show that your dentist broke the standard of care requirements they were supposed to follow. The standard of care is based on the clinically acceptable standard and advice based on your treatment plans and individual needs.

How a dentist may have breached the standard of care requirements include:

  • Failed to diagnose a dental problem
  • Caused an injury due to the dental procedure
  • Caused nerve damage
  • Led to an infection after the procedure
  • Health issues due to sedation use
  • Health issues due to anesthetic use

Proof of Causation

To prove causation that your dentist is responsible for your injuries, you’ll need to show that their breach in the standard of care is directly associated with the damages and injuries you have faced.

You need to answer the basic question of whether the injury would have taken place if the dentist did not break the acceptable standard of care. If you believe the injury would not have happened, your attorney will need expert and medical witnesses who can prove that causation took place.

Proof of Damages

Lastly, to win a dental malpractice case, you need to prove damages occurred. Along with a physical injury and any pain you felt, you will need to prove:

  • Loss of income
  • Cost of treatment to fix the health problem
  • It caused psychological trauma

Steps to File a Dental Malpractice Lawsuit

In some states, the first step is to obtain an affidavit from a healthcare professional stating that the dental malpractice case has merit. You may also need to check whether a similar case has been successful before bringing a dental malpractice lawsuit to the State Board of Dentistry.

The lawsuit begins when you have filed a complaint with the court. The defendant needs to respond within 20 to 30 days. Then the discovery process takes place, which can include documentation and fact witnesses. If the case is deemed worthy, it then proceeds to trial.

Examples of Dental Malpractice

What is an example of malpractice in dentistry? One example is the inaccurate extraction of teeth. Your dentist may also fail to diagnose all types of medical conditions, such as oral cancer or gingivitis.

What are common reasons for the filing of dental malpractice cases? There are some other reasons why someone might file a dental malpractice case, such as:

  • The dentist failed to treat complications due to care
  • The dentist did not obtain informed consent
  • The dental provider did not refer a patient to a specialist
  • The dentist failed to oversee the steps taken by employees
  • The dental provider inappropriately administered anesthesia

Explore if You Have a Dental Malpractice Claim

If you believe you have a strong dental malpractice claim, you must contact an experienced malpractice lawyer. The next step will be to consult with the lawyer and answer questions about the healthcare you obtained.

To learn more about the benefits of working with a dental malpractice lawyer, click here.

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.