Proper documentation plays a crucial role for both sides in a dental malpractice case. If you are injured because of an action or inaction taken by a dental healthcare professional, without legal documentation, you can’t expect to recover compensation. Documentation is key when attempting to prove dental negligence.
Your Medical Records Serve as Important Evidence
California’s Health and Safety Code § 123100–123149.5 ensures that you, as the patient, may recover copies of your dental records. This document of your dentist’s recommended care and your dental procedures, aftercare, and prescriptions is critical to your case. The importance of it cannot be overstated.
A Tip from Our Attorneys
It’s wise to get into the habit of reviewing your records shortly after each interaction with a medical professional, while your memory of the event is fresh. It’s not uncommon for miscommunication to be reflected in the records. Checking each time allows you to correct any errors you find and can prevent future medical errors based on poor record keeping.
Building Your Dental Malpractice Case
Recovering compensation in a dental malpractice case is tough. Working with an attorney experienced in dental malpractice law provides you with a strong ally as you face off against the defendant’s legal team. Your attorney will seek the answers to these questions when building your personal injury claim:
- Did your dental healthcare provider (for example, your dentist, hygienist, or orthodontist) provide the accepted standard of care, or did they provide substandard care?
- Did you suffer serious injury as a result of your dental professional’s actions or inactions?
To move forward with a dental malpractice lawsuit, you must prove that the dental professional had a standard of care that needed to be met, that standard of care was not met, and because of their negligence, you were injured.
How do you prove these elements? With evidence, of course. But how can you get such information?
A Dental Malpractice Attorney Can Gather Supporting Evidence
Typically, your attorney will work with expert medical witnesses who will establish the accepted standard of care and illustrate how the care you received differed, causing your injury. Aside from expert testimony, other supporting information could include:
- A record of your dental care, including the most recent procedures, treatments, or prescriptions
- An explanation of recommended (as well as completed) treatment plans
- Notes on visits, events, and outcomes
- Signed informed consent sheets for all procedures, treatments, or medications
- Your notes offering clarification or correction of any misrepresentations or errors in the documents provided by the dental office
- Photos of the dental error, such as swelling, infections, and disfigurement
You Have Rights Even if You Signed an Informed Consent Form
Do not assume that you have no rights to pursue compensation if you signed a consent form. Signing an informed consent sheet indicates that you were informed of the risks of a procedure or treatment and were prepared to follow through with the treatment plan. It does not mean that you were prepared to accept substandard care that increased your risk of injury and resulted in harm.
Damages You May Recover for Dental Malpractice
When you partner with a personal injury lawyer, they can handle your case’s obligations, such as its investigation and evidence collection. They can also build a case that seeks fair compensation for:
Economic damages are financial losses you suffer due to your injury, such as medical costs and loss of income. Other examples include out-of-pocket expenses, such as anything you spent on medications and assistive care.
Non-economic damages are subjective losses. They may not have invoices attached, but they are losses resulting from your injury and may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Diminished enjoyment of life
How much compensation you may recover depends solely on the particulars of your case. Your attorney will provide an estimate based on the evidence provided.
You Must File Your Dental Malpractice Lawsuit Within the Statute of Limitations
If you want to file a dental malpractice lawsuit in California, you have three years to do so from the date of the injury. You also have one year from the date you discovered or reasonably should have discovered the error, whichever comes first.
You may have more time if you could show that information was deliberately concealed, or if a foreign body that serves no purpose was left inside of you. Our attorneys will discuss all circumstances that could allow you more time to file your dental malpractice lawsuit.
Contact Our Dental Malpractice Lawyers for More Information
Pursuing compensation for dental malpractice is a complicated task. In a situation like this, you want a lawyer who is knowledgeable in personal injury and dental malpractice law. Our attorneys at KJT Law Group offer free case consultations to Californians suffering from the negligence of medical professionals. Call us at (818) 507-8525 to get your questions answered.