Dental Malpractice

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In the past decade, the incidence of dental malpractice has increased as dental professionals have begun offering complex procedures involving implants and cosmetic surgeries. These procedures were in demand by the public and were also lucrative for dentists. However, some dentists started performing these procedures without the proper training. The results were that patients had their teeth ruined or their ability to eat or even talk had been hampered or destroyed. Fixing these errors can cost tens of thousands of dollars.  Accordingly, patients have turned to dental negligence attorneys to be fairly compensated for damages.

 Suing a dentist is neither easy nor simple. Medical malpractice laws in Texas are highly regulated by a set of complex laws, which do not fall into the category of “normal negligence” lawsuits. The State of Texas’s strict requirements in medical malpractice are designed to curtail frivolous claims, as well as to reduce the high costs of medical malpractice insurance.

 Nevertheless, patients who believe they have suffered from dental malpractice have a right to act, but they must act within the statute of limitations. For a malpractice lawsuit in Texas, the period is two years. This is sufficient time for the party to investigate the injury, consult and retain an attorney, file a formal complaint, and try to settle the matter before resorting to trial. It is important to note that the injured patient must prove that the dentist acted negligently in rendering reasonable care, and that such negligence resulted in a new injury.

Common Forms of Dental Malpractice in Texas

 Medical malpractice is defined as any act or omission by a physician/dentist during the treatment and care of a patient that deviates from accepted norms of practice and causes injury. Among the situations that fall within the malpractice category are the following:

  • Failure to properly design and install dental implants;
  • Failure to properly design and place bridges and prosthetic teeth;
  • Mishandled orthagnathic and maxillofacial surgery;
  • Endocarditis caused by a dental negligence;
  • Failure to recognize and treat potential life threatening infections that cost the patient a long hospital stay;
  • Botched procedures leading to permanent nerve damage and loss of sense of taste;
  • Tinnitus caused by tooth extraction;
  • Bone damage that requires bone grafts and implant surgery;
  • Failure to put in veneers or caps, which can costs thousands of dollars of repair work;
  • Dental error that results in a lifetime of pain or lost sense of taste; and
  • Performance of unnecessary care (particularly on children) simply to make money.

Dental Malpractice Lawyer

A Texas lawyer for dental malpractice assists clients by doing any or all of the following:

  • Conducting a thorough investigation of the dental malpractice case;
  • Consulting medical and legal experts concerning the standard of care;
  • Constructing a clear record of the patient’s medical history;
  • Identifying liable parties;
  • Determining the value of the claim;
  • Coordinating and communicating with legal representatives of the defendant; and
  • Working for a fair settlement on the victim’s behalf or, if required, taking the case to trial. 

The damages due to dental malpractice are both physical and financial.

Physical

  • Pain and suffering.
  • Mental anguish.
  • Disfigurement.
  • Physical Impairment.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life.

Financial 

  • Medical bills.
  • Lost wages.
  • Lost earning capacity.
  • Estimated future medical expenses.
  • Out of pocket expenditure.

It is not enough that a dentist makes an error. All mistakes by dentists are not malpractice. Some are simply unavoidable or acceptable complications of treatment. Moreover, it sometimes happens that the mistake made by the dentist is not what has caused the patient’s pain. For example, a dentist pulls a tooth, which results in a minor infection, a “dry socket,” or temporary nerve damage. In this case, the patient usually does not have a malpractice case because any dentist performing the same procedure under the same circumstances might have had similar complications. To win a case, a patient must prove that what happened would not have occurred had the dental professional done the job correctly.

A viable malpractice case against a dentist requires three things:

  • Proof that the dentist’s error does not constitute acceptable in the dental profession;
  • Proof that the mistake and no other factors caused injury; and
  • Proof that your damages would garner an award of more than $20,000.00.

Dentist malpractice cases are expensive. They often involve the cost of compensating expert witnesses and court reporters and obtaining medical records. For this reason, unless a case involves a permanent injury or extra dental treatment that will cost $20,000.00 or more, it probably doesn’t make sense to pursue a malpractice case.

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