Tips for Winning a Dental Malpractice Case
If you have suffered an injury or health problem as a result of sub-standard dental care, you may be able to file a lawsuit for malpractice against your dentist. However, your statement alone is not sufficient for your case to be successful. There is a great deal of evidence required if you are to prove that your dentist has caused you undue pain and suffering.
Proving dental negligence is virtually identical to proving medical negligence. There are four standard elements required for you to successfully mount a dental malpractice case against your dentist.
Failure to be able to prove any of the following elements will spell disaster for your lawsuit and almost certainly mean that you will have no hope of claiming the compensation that you are entitled. Here is what you need to know about how to win a dental malpractice case.
PROVE: The existence of duty of care
A duty of care is a legal obligation that is imposed on a professional which requires them to adhere to a reasonable standard of care when performing any act which could foreseeably harm another. Although it should go without saying that your dentist has a duty of care, for a claim to be successful, you will have to be able to provide evidence that will show that you have or had a dentist-patient relationship. This could include a copy of your patient records, appointment cards or credit card receipts/insurance bills for treatment.
PROVE: A failure to provide the necessary standard of care
After you have proven that your dentist had a duty of care, you must next provide evidence that he/she was in breach of this duty. The standard of care is roughly defined as what is clinically acceptable and recommended based on your individual circumstances and the necessary work that was being completed.
There are many different ways in which you could say that your dentist has failed to provide the appropriate level of care and consideration. For example, you could not say that you dentist failed to give you a general anesthetic for a regular cavity filling unless it had been agreed in writing that this would be the case. This is because it is very unusual to give a patient a general anesthetic for a simple filling unless there are extenuating circumstances.
Other commonly cited reasons for a breach in the standard of care include:
- Failure to diagnose a dental/oral problem
- Injury sustained as a result of the dental procedure
- Complications related to the use of anesthetic
- Complications related to the use of sedation
- Nerve damage
- Post-procedure infection
Proving causation is largely considered to be the factor that can make or break a medical or dental negligence case. After all, there are many cases whereby a dentist or medical practitioner has been in breach of their duty of care but have escaped without causing their patient any harm. In these circumstances, many patients don’t even realize that their professional has failed to comply with a reasonable standard of care and have simply been ‘lucky’ to escape with no ill effects.
To prove causation, you must be able to prove a link between the breach in the standard of care and damages that you have incurred. The basic question to ask is, ‘would the injury have occurred if the breach in care hadn’t happened?’. If you can answer no, the injury wouldn’t have occurred if your dentist had fulfilled their duty of care, your lawyers can work to find supporting evidence that proves causation.
Finally, for your case to stand any chance of being successful, you need to prove what damages you have incurred. In addition to physical injury and subsequent pain, this could also include:
- Loss of earnings (due to time off work while recovering/receiving further treatment)
- Cost of treatment to rectify the problem
- Psychological trauma endured
Pursuing a dental malpractice case is rarely a straightforward process. When you are recovering from a traumatic experience, you don’t need the stress and hassle of finding and securing evidence and battling with your dentist and their legal representation. Our dental malpractice attorneys would be delighted to use their knowledge and depth of experience to help you achieve the compensation that you deserve.
To schedule a free, no-obligation confidential consultation to discuss your case, please contact us on (602) 833 – 4200 today.