Dental Malpractice – Statute of Limitations

dental malpractice statute of limitations


Despite our best efforts to find a competent and experienced dentist, accidents and injuries still occur. If you experience avoidable injury as a result of your dentist performing poorly, negligently or inappropriately, there are numerous effects it can have – on your health, your appearance, your confidence and even if your finances if you need to take time off of work or pay for further corrective treatment.


If you have suffered at the hands of a dentist that you believe has acted in a negligent manner, you could be entitled to compensation for the damages that you have sustained. However, in order to do this, you need to pursue legal action known as a dental malpractice claim. This must be done within a certain time frame to comply with your state’s statute of limitations.


What Is a Statute of Limitations?


A statute of limitations refers to a law, passed by a legislative body in a common law system, which sets a maximum time period after an event during which legal proceedings relating to something that happened during that event, can be initiated. This is sometimes known as a 'cause of action’.


There are three reasons why the statute of limitations is applied to legal proceedings. These are:


  1. To ensure that a plaintiff with a valid cause of action pursues it with reasonable diligence.

  2. To prevent stale claims from being litigated whereby so much time has passed that the defendant may have lost the evidence necessary to disprove the claim.

  3. Litigation of a stale claim could result in more cruelty than justice. It is not unheard of for plaintiffs to pursue action with the intention of causing disruption and stress long after the event, rather than for valid reasons.


What is The Statute of Limitations in Arizona For Pursuing a Dental Malpractice Case?


If you believe that you have a case for dental malpractice, you must pursue legal action within two years after the cause of action accrues, and not afterward. Precise details can be found in Arizona Revised Statutes section 12-542.


In plain terms, this means that you must file the initial complaint and, if necessary, also filing written certification as to whether you’ll need to employ a qualified expert medical witness to support your allegations against the defendant.


What Happens If I Didn’t Realize That There Was a Case for Malpractice Until Some Time Has Passed After the Event?


This is a fairly common problem. Sometimes health problems relating to a case of medical malpractice do not become apparent until weeks or months after the initial procedure took place. In Arizona, the statute of limitations is said to apply from the time that you actually know or should reasonably know about the malpractice. However, in the event that this does happen a considerable time after the event, you as the plaintiff have to prove that you didn’t and couldn’t have reasonably discovered the malpractice until later. This can add an extra layer of complexity to your case.


As experienced dental malpractice attorneys, we strongly recommend that any potential cases are reviewed and pursued as soon as possible. This makes it far simpler to obtain the evidence needed to support your claim and prevent the statute of limitations from becoming a problem in your case.


To arrange a no-obligation case review by our experienced dental malpractice attorneys, please Arizona Dental Law Group in Scottsdale, AZ today (602) 833-4200.