If you have suffered considerable pain or loss because your dentist was negligent, you will want to consult a lawyer who is experienced in handling dental malpractice cases to receive the compensation you deserve.
When you should file a claim
Generally speaking, people tend to think of dental malpractice as some act on the physician’s part that causes a patient harm. This may include causing permanent injury to a nerve in the patient’s tongue during oral surgery or fashioning a defective bridge or crown that leads to expensive, painful complications for the patient.
Note that both of these acts are something dentists might do but are expected to avoid. However, you may be surprised to learn that dentists also find themselves in the courtroom when they fail to properly diagnose a serious problem, such as periodontal disease or oral cancer. In addition, they should always take any relevant issue in a patient’s medical history into account before they act as a safety issue, and to avoid a dental malpractice lawsuit as well.
Grounds for malpractice lawsuits must be significant
Whatever your situation might be, you will have to demonstrate something more substantial than a superfluous office visit or undergoing a bit of short-term pain. The harm you have suffered must be quantifiable, and so serious that you will be able to recover a sizable amount if your case goes to trial.
If you had to undergo some type of expensive surgery to correct the dentist’s error, were out of work for an extended period, or suffered either disfigurement or permanent loss of sensation, these are the conditions that should prompt your dentist’s insurer to make an offer of a fair settlement. However, be aware that those issues must be combined with pain and suffering if you want to prevail.
What you should know
Malpractice legislation varies from state to state, and you will want to consult with an attorney to determine if your claim has been affected by a statute of limitations and how to proceed.
Try to find a law firm with one or more attorneys on the staff who were also trained in dentistry. The JD and DDS degrees, along with experience in litigation and settlement, clearly indicate that a lawyer is well-equipped to handle a dental malpractice case. Talk to your attorney about his or her previous cases and the types of settlements he or she was able to obtain for clients.
Paying your attorney
Generally speaking, dental malpractice lawyers accept cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning that they will be paid a percentage of the payment recovered for their client. If they are unsuccessful, the client is not charged a fee. All of the details related to the fee and expenses for you case should be discussed with your lawyer in your initial consultation and put into writing.