The law firm of Aaron Allison has been helping victims of medical and dental malpractice in Austin Texas since 1978. Our specialized law firm has the legal expertise to help victims know what is dental malpractice, how to fight for recovery, and get what they deserve.
What is Dental Malpractice?
Most people associate malpractice with doctors and hospitals, but one in seven malpractice cases in 2006 actually involved a dentist or orthodontist. Dental malpractice is more common than you may think and can cause long-term suffering and severe health consequences for victims.
In order to determine whether your treatment qualifies as dental malpractice, you need to meet a high standard of proof. Simply receiving poor care, or experiencing pain and problems after treatment, is not enough to prove malpractice. In fact, Texas has even higher standards of proof for malpractice than other states.
Successfully proving dental malpractice typically consists of three steps:
1. Duty of Care
The “duty of care” is a legal obligation for dentists and oral health professionals to adhere to medical standards and best practices when caring for patients. In most cases, “duty of care” simply means that you were a patient seeing a dentist in a professional capacity. Completing normal actions like making an appointment, completing medical history or consent forms, or discussing symptoms and concerns is often sufficient to establish the duty of care.
2. Breach of Duty
In a dental malpractice case, there must be a failure to live up to the duty of care. This may mean that the dentist didn’t provide treatment according to medical standards and practices, or that the dentist failed to account for foreseeable negative outcomes for the patient. The most common types of breaches include:
- Medication errors. The dentist fails to administer the right amount of anesthesia, or the dentist does not account for potential medication interactions.
- Procedural errors during surgery. The dentist makes a mistake during oral surgery or when inserting implants.
- Diagnostic errors. The dentist fails to diagnose a serious oral health condition like mouth or tongue cancer.
Generally speaking, there may be unpleasant side effects of dental care (like “dry socket” after a root canal, or a cavity that is too small to be easily detected) that are not the result of a breach of the duty of care. But if a dentist or oral surgeon makes a mistake that was preventable, or failed to account for information available in a patient’s medical history, it may be a breach.
The third important aspect of a dental malpractice case is whether the patient suffered as a result of the breach. For example, a dentist may fail to get informed consent before a procedure (which is technically a breach), but if the treatment went well and there was no unnecessary pain and suffering, there is no resulting harm. However, many people who have experienced dental negligence or malpractice have experienced severe harm afterward, including:
- Unnecessary delay in treatment that worsens the patient’s condition
- Nerve damage
- Extractions of the wrong tooth, or unnecessary extractions
- Perforation of the sinus cavity during oral surgery
- Harmful medication interactions
- Wrongful death, usually associated with dental anesthesia
The patient needs to prove “causation”: that is, that these negative outcomes were a direct result of the breach by the dentist. While every case is different, these are the typical factors a patient needs to prove if they want to sue for dental malpractice.
How Do You Sue for Dental Malpractice?
If you or a loved one are a victim of dental malpractice in Texas and want to find out if you have a strong dental malpractice case, or if you’re looking for information on how to sue for dental malpractice, it’s best to contact a qualified attorney immediately. In many cases, dental malpractice claims are subject to a statute of limitations, so it’s important to act quickly. Consulting with a malpractice attorney will help you understand your rights, and how to proceed with your malpractice case.
What Kind of Recovery Can You Expect in a Dental Malpractice Case?
Every year, about 8,500 dentists are named in malpractice lawsuits, and the average dental malpractice settlement is about $68,000. If you are a victim of dental malpractice, you may be able to receive compensation for:
- Medical and dental expenses
- Lost work and wages due to illness
- Pain and suffering
How Can Aaron Allison Help Victims of Dental Malpractice?
Aaron Allison is a law firm that specializes in dental malpractice, and our expert lawyers know what it takes to prove a malpractice case. We offer free consultations to help you understand your rights, and we won’t take a case unless there is a strong chance of recovery, so you have no upfront legal costs. Contact us to find out how to sue for dental malpractice today.