Dentists are required by law to provide a standard of care to each patient they treat, whether they are performing a simple cleaning or a more complex procedure. Most patients have great faith that they are in good hands when they visit the dentist. Unfortunately, procedures can go seriously wrong and a doctor’s negligence can seriously harm the patient.
What is Dental Malpractice?
Dental malpractice occurs when a dentist does not fulfil their duty of care to their patient and it results in a serious medical issue. Malpractice of any kind is simply defined as the negligent behavior of a medical professional. These are some of the most common examples of dental malpractice:
Unnecessary extraction of teeth
Failure to properly diagnose a dental issue
Failure to treat complications from a dental issue
Lack of consent from the patient to perform a procedure
Failure to refer the patient to a specialist when specialized care is necessary for their health and well being
Failure to properly supervise, train, or oversee their staff
If, for example, the wrong patient chart is given to the dentist, it could result in the extraction of the wrong teeth. The dental office is liable for this mistake because they did not do their due diligence to double check that the patient files were correct.
Proving Negligence in Dental Malpractice Cases
There are many scenarios in which dental malpractice might occur, but it’s not always easy to prove that the doctor acted negligently. In a dental malpractice lawsuit, there are several things the patient’s attorney must prove:
A dentist-patient relationship existed
The dentist acted negligently in their care for the patient by not fulfilling their duty of care to that patient
The negligence directly resulted in serious injury or health complications to the patient
If a dentist is accused of malpractice and the plaintiff has a very good chance of winning a lawsuit, the doctor’s insurance company may offer the victim a settlement to avoid a trial. This allows the dentist to not only avoid a trial, but also the associated bad press. A settlement offers advantages to the victim as well. A settlement can be negotiated much faster than it takes for a trial to conclude. It can also be as attractive financially, or even more so, than a jury award. It’s also less expensive than a lengthy trial.
If you have been wronged by a dentist’s care, contact a malpractice attorney immediately. If they accept your case, they can guide you through the legal process and help safeguard your rights. If you suspect you’ve been the victim of dental malpractice, call a medical malpractice lawyer Charlottesville VA relies on for assistance.
Thanks to our friends and contributor from MartinWren, P.C. for their insight into dental malpractice cases.