Although dental mistakes are not as widely heard of as traditional medical mistakes, they are just as common. When a dentist or other dental professional makes a mistake in treatment of a patient, there is often cause for legal action. Victims are not usually aware that they can file such a claim, however. This is because they are unaware of their rights or do not understand them. When dental malpractice occurs, the dentist’s insurance company does not publicize details of the incident, so little is known about most dental malpractice cases or the full extent of patient experience in regard to mistakes made by dentists.
If you suffer dental mistakes, it is important to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. This is because statutes of limitations exist that affect how long after a mistake a patient has to file a case. These statutes vary from state to state and according to the cause of action. In many cases, patients find out that their claim cannot be filed because their statutes of limitations have expired.
Many experts believe that far more dental medical malpractice problems exist than are reported. This is attributed to the public not being aware of the need to file a dental malpractice claim, as well as lack of awareness regarding how one patient’s problem is likely also affecting other patients of the same dentist. By not reporting, poorly performing dentists are allowed to continue treating unsuspecting patients, damaging not only others in their care but also the entire dental profession.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is responsible for maintaining records of actual reported cases of dental malpractice. This ensures anyone who wants to know more about how prevalent dental malpractice is, or where problems lie in the industry, can access information through this agency.
Common Dental Injuries Leading to Legal Claims
When dental malpractice happens, victims should report the injury quickly and contact a personal injury lawyer who has experience in dental malpractices cases. This type of lawyer will ensure compensation can be gained for the victim’s injuries, according to the specific case and what the law allows. By reporting dental malpractice, the state licensing board may also investigate the situation. This board may inflict fines, probation or even suspension of the dentist’s license if warranted.
Some of the injuries suffered by dental malpractice victims include:
- Chipped enamel injury, classified as a tooth fracture
- Deep fractures of the tooth, involving both enamel and tooth dentin
- Death of pulp tissue resulting in severe infection or tooth abscess
- Serious fractures exposing dentin and pulp tissue that require immediate attention
- Injuries requiring extraction of a tooth that was otherwise healthy before the dental visit
- Extraction of the wrong tooth
- Grinding too deeply into a cavity
- Damaging gum tissues
- Use of non-sterilized equipment that may lead to infection or disease
- Infection transmitted from the dentist or an assistant to the patient, due to improper procedures
Many Dental Malpractice Claims Are Not Reported
When not reporting dental malpractice, patients are often unaware of their right to a legal claim. They do not understand their options when they suffer injuries or illness after a dental visit. Patients rarely know what to do and remain silent despite being victimized. Many people are raised to believe that filing any type of case or report against a health or dental care provider is the wrong step to take. So most cases of dental malpractice go unreported.
While some states have resources available online for patient information, most patients still do not know where to look or who to talk to for guidance about a dental malpractice issue. Because the steps for reporting vary from state-to-state, it is best to contact a personal injury attorney in the state where the dental malpractice occurred to gain insight and understanding about how to report the claim. That attorney can also advise the potential client regarding their rights and what can be done to compensate the victim for his or her dental injuries.
When a dentist does not provide quality care to his or her patients, and particularly when a dentist harms a patient, it is vital that a report is filed. This is because the dentist will continue to improperly treat patients if the inadequacies are not brought to their attention at the least, with penalties assessed to ensure the dentist either corrects improper procedures or is stopped from treating patients altogether.
Reasons for Filing a Dental Claim
When dental treatment goes awry and patients decide to start a legal claim, a dental malpractice lawyer can help. This attorney will explain the patient’s rights and the legal process involved when filing a claim. The personal injury medical malpractice lawyer will review the specifics of the individual patient’s case and advise the patient of options based upon their circumstances.
Patients often ignore or excuse mistakes their dentist makes, particularly when the mistake is minor. But most dental mistakes require additional treatment to fix the problem. Many patients lose teeth and suffer cosmetic damage that must be repaired in order to regain their normal appearance. When the mistake is not reported, the patient usually ends up footing the bill. In addition to expense suffered by patients through dental mistakes, these people also often suffer pain, lost time at work and other costly inconveniences.
Insurance companies will generally seek to protect the dentist first, when a patient suffers injuries. They will also try to keep patients from reporting the dentist for malpractice. These are other reasons why it is important to have the help and guidance of an experience malpractice attorney. A lawyer helps patients deal with these issues, ensuring that the compensation a patient needs for corrective procedures, surgeries or other treatments is gained. Patients may also qualify for pain and suffering damages.
When You Are Injured by a Dentist
When your dentist causes injury instead of healing your dental problems, it is important that you take notes regarding the circumstances of the injury and contact a personal injury lawyer with dental malpractice experience. This lawyer will help you from the time the injury occurs, through the end of the case.
If you have suffered dental malpractice and believe you may have a case, call for a free, no-obligation consultation regarding the circumstances of your case and options for filing a claim.