What It Takes To Sue A Dentist For Malpractice
It is easy for one to imagine that dental malpractice cases happen to just a handful of people until one becomes a victim. This happens every day. Unfortunately, not so many people usually have the courage to come out and file a law suit.
Please note that dental malpractice, just like medical negligence and malpractice, gives rise to a rare yet specific type of negligence. That means that for you to succeed in the case, you must prove the four main elements of negligence, which include the duty of care, causation, damages and breach of the duty of care.
Duty of care
You probably don’t know this, but all dentists have a legal duty of care towards their patients. They must comply with the set standard of care in medicine while offering patients advice or when treating them. The standard of care in this case simply means the level at which the average Joe or in legal terms, the ordinary prudent dentist with a good record would administer care. Think of it this way, if you get injured while under treatment, would the same thing have happened in the hands of another dentist who exercises caution?
Remember that the standard of care varies from one state to another. The standard of care observed in Las Vegas is certainly not the same standard of care observed in the state of Ohio. With that in mind, be sure what the standard of care in your jurisdiction is before filing a suit.
Breach of duty
Your dentist must fail in his or her duty to provide you with the utmost care or to exercise caution while treating you. This means you will be entitled to damages once you demonstrate to the jury or judge that the breach of duty the dentist owed you was breached. Keep in mind that in dental malpractice, an unsuccessful result or an unfortunate result does not translate to breach of duty. The court must take into account so many factors so as to determine whether the said breach of duty occurred.
There is also the fact that dental medicine, as compared to other forms of medicine, is not an exact science. In other words, it does not guarantee certain outcomes or promises that some procedures will be successful. However, there are exceptional circumstances where a dentist goes out of his line of duty and does the unthinkable. For example, he could extract the wrong tooth and cause you a great deal of pain, or he could damage one of your nerves with the wrong injection.
The scenario mentioned above sounds easy to prove. That is never the case though mainly because you may be forced to call witnesses. An expert may also have to be called into the dockette to give his or her opinion so as to ascertain if indeed there was negligence on the part of the dentist. Your attorney will have to call another dental expert to demonstrate to the court the standard dental procedures and how your dentist breached the standards.
Causation stands out as the main component of dental malpractice. You have to prove that you would not have suffered harm if your dentist was cautious. This is a simple way of saying that were it not for your dentist’s negligence, and you would never have suffered any form of hardship. As such, there must be a direct link between the act or omission of your dentist and the hardship you suffered or the injury you sustained.
Note that a dentist can still breach his duty to adhere to the required standard of care without causing his patient harm. This sounds strange, but it happens all the time. The worst part about it is the fact that you may never get to know that a breach occurred.
This is the final component in a dental malpractice and or negligence in general. Your case will be dismissed in the first instance if you fail to demonstrate or prove to the court that you suffered damages.
In dental malpractice, damages can be financial or physical. Physical damages, in this case, can be broken teeth or damaged nerves. Financial damages, on the other hand, can be costs you incurred to rectify your dentists, mistakes. Damages can also be non-economic. That is, you are now embarrassed to smile because your once radiant smile is no more because of your dentist’s negligence.
You will notice that everything boils down to proving the four elements of negligence separately. This may not be easy with an average attorney. Your best bet is to, therefore, hire the most competent attorney in town. It may cost you a fortune, but it is always worth it especially if you are convinced that you have a good case against your dentist. With that in mind, hire an attorney with a wealth of experience in negligence cases, particularly in dental malpractice.