Dentists, like all medical professionals, are held to certain reasonable standards of care for their patients. If your dentist is negligent in their duties and you or a loved one suffers trauma, you may be entitled to compensation. Dental care professionals sometimes fail to live up to their training and the standards requires of their profession. Sometimes this can lead to significant injury, pain, suffering, and even death. Whether you are the victim or the survivor, you can file a dental malpractice lawsuit.
Do I Have a Case for a Dental Malpractice Lawsuit?
The best way to determine if you have a potential case is to contact an experienced attorney to review the issues with you and discuss your options.
Medical Standard of Care
The medical standard of care is compared to the dentist’s actual work to determine if negligence occurred. The standard of care for a particular dentist is determined by a number of factors including the community where the dentist practices, the dentist’s training and experience, and the circumstances surrounding the dentist’s care and treatment of the patient. This evidence often comes from a dental expert witness.
A plaintiff will also need to show that the dental care provider did not meet the standard of care and caused the injury or worsened an existing injury. Sometimes a dentist or technician’s failure to do something that should have been done can result in injury and a valid claim for damages.
An expert witness may also be helpful in proving the complained of act or omission led to the injury. With their experience, an expert can explain what the standard of care is and how what the defendant did (or didn’t do) led to the plaintiff’s injury.
Extent of Injury
The extent of injury helps determine the liability and compensation needed to balance the scales and make up for what was done. The patient, experts and folks who know the patient can all be helpful in laying out the extent of the injury and the impact it’s had on the patient and those around them.
Most Common Dental Malpractice Cases
Many might think that oral surgery most often leads to dental malpractice. However, often times dental malpractice cases involve simple tooth extractions. A more comprehensive list of common dental malpractice lawsuits includes:
- tooth extractions
- anesthesia complications
- damage to oral nerves
- failure to properly diagnose oral conditions (i.e., TMJ, diseases, cancers)
- complications with bridges and crowns (i.e., improper placement)
- root canals
- complications from local or general anesthetics
- wrongful death
Evidence to Support Your Claim
Evidence is necessary in order to establish dental malpractice. Additional evidence that can prove useful for your malpractice claim include:
- detailed notes about everything the dentist and their staff said before, during, and after you were injured
- copies of any instruction or informational sheets
- photographs and video of the injury, showing swelling, disfigurement or other complications caused by the dental procedure
- potential witnesses, like friends and family, who can provide a written statement of your condition before and after the dental procedure that caused your injury.
- lost wages statement from your employer showing the time you missed from work due to your injury
North Carolina Statue of Limitations for Dental Malpractice
In North Carolina, medical malpractice claims, like all claims, must be brought within certain time frames or they may be forever barred. Rather than risk your claim being time barred, consult with an experienced attorney in a timely manner after you discover the injury.
Limit of Liability for Dental Malpractice Claims
North Carolina does not limit economic damages in dental malpractice claims. Economic damages are losses such as medical expenses and lost wages resulting from the injury. North Carolina does have a limit of liability for noneconomic damages, as outlined in § 90-21.19. Noneconomic damages are losses such as pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life due to the malpractice.
What Kind of Lawyer Do You Need for Dental Malpractice?
In North Carolina, dental malpractice falls under personal injury law. You have to follow certain steps before your dental malpractice case will even be seen in court. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you through the process of filing a lawsuit and holding the dentist accountable for his or her negligence. If you or a loved one suffered an injury at the hands of a dentist, you should consult a local attorney as soon as possible after the injury or discovery of fault.
We offer a free consultation to explain the complicated process of dental malpractice lawsuits and discuss your potential case. If you live in Asheville, North Carolina or the surrounding area, our highly successful personal injury lawyers can evaluate your potential case and help you consider your options.