Understanding the duty of care in dentistry is key to knowing if you have a valid dental malpractice case. However, this is difficult to determine on your own. Even attorneys and judges rely on expert medical witnesses to help them determine if a dentist provided an acceptable standard of care.
A personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the dental malpractice claims process and seek fair compensation. You can discuss your options and the strength of your case with an attorney for free today.
Explaining the Standard of Care in Dentistry
Dental negligence occurs when the accused dentist or another dental professional fails to uphold their duty of care to their patients. This is often referred to as the standard of care. In short, this is the care provided by a reasonable practitioner who:
- Has the same training as the dentist in question
- Has similar experience to the dentist accused
- Works in the same geographical area as the potentially liable party
When faced with the same circumstances, how would another dentist act? The level of care and actions taken by any other reasonable practitioner during this process should demonstrate the expected standard of care. When the dental records show a dentist deviated from the standard, this means they failed to uphold the duty of care owed to their patient. This circumstance likely supports a dental malpractice case.
How Does Dental Malpractice Occur and Harm Patients?
Most dental malpractice lawsuits are based on the dentist’s failure to provide the expected standard of care. However, there are many ways this can occur. Mistakes during dental procedures can affect many aspects of the patient’s life. When these mistakes are preventable, they could support a dental malpractice case.
Some common ways that dentists commit dental negligence and cause harm to occur include:
- Failure to accurately and promptly diagnose a condition
- Failure to treat a condition properly
- Improper anesthesia administration
- Medicine errors
- Preventable injuries to the oral nerves
- Preventable infections
- Improper tooth extractions
- Catastrophic injuries or wrongful death due to complications
Like in other medical procedures, informed consent in dentistry is also important. If a dentist fails to warn their patient of all the possible risks and side effects, this could be considered malpractice.
Regardless of how the injuries occurred, you will likely need a medical expert to assess the case and determine if the dentist in question provided an acceptable standard of care. Most medical malpractice law firms have a robust network of experts they can call to assist in building these cases.
Dental Expert Witnesses Provide Crucial Evidence About Duty of Care
Understanding the standard of care expected is crucial evidence in a medical malpractice case. Many states require medical expert testimony to confirm how a reasonable practitioner with the same training and experience would act under the given circumstances. This helps to document the standard of care and show the dentist in question failed to meet it.
Because lawyers, judges, and jurors are not trained dental professionals, an expert is necessary to help them understand what happened and whether or not negligence occurred. What might seem like careless behavior to a layperson might make sense to a dentist faced with the same concerns.
In most cases, a medical expert witness—often a practicing dentist, orthodontist, or oral surgeon—will submit a sworn affidavit, give a recorded deposition, or testify about the duty of care. This comes after they review the records, evidence, and facts of the dental malpractice case as requested by the injured victim and their legal counsel.
How Can a Dental Malpractice Attorney Help With My Case?
Your first step in getting a better understanding of your case is to consult a dental malpractice attorney. They will assess your case and handle all aspects of it from start to finish. You can focus on healing while they take care of the rest.
Dental malpractice liability could fall on the dentist or clinic. Both should carry malpractice insurance that will pay for injuries suffered by patients who endure dental negligence and a failure to uphold the duty of care. Your attorney will know how to build a compelling case to present to the insurance provider or the judge and jury following a dental malpractice lawsuit.
Attorneys who handle dental malpractice claims generally work based on contingency. Most patients who suffer injuries due to dental negligence pay no upfront fees. Instead, their attorney’s fees come from the money recovered through a negotiated settlement or court award.
Discuss Your Dental Malpractice Injuries With a Law Firm for Free Today
Our team from KJT Law Group provides free consultations for injured patients. If you believe a dentist’s negligence caused your injuries, you could have a dental malpractice case. Our attorneys handle these cases in Los Angeles and Southern California.