Can I Sue My Dentist for Pain and Suffering?
It’s pretty rare that you find someone who enjoys going to the dentist. Even the kindest, gentlest dentist is a nightmare for many people. This can be made even worse if you’ve had a bad experience with a dentist previously. Some people even suffer serious injuries caused by a negligent dentist. While this isn’t the norm, it’s a possibility. If this has happened to you, it’s a good idea to consider hiring an attorney to explore your options. Simply having a bad experience at the dentist isn’t going to be enough to sue them for pain and suffering. But if you incurred legitimate injuries, and you’re wondering, “can I sue my dentist for pain and suffering?” you might have recourse. At Morgan & Morgan, we have been handling these types of cases for decades.
We have offices throughout the United States, so no matter where you are located, we can help. All of our lawyers are experienced in litigation and negotiation, and we’d be honored to work with you. If you think you have a claim, you should speak to a lawyer right away. Contact Morgan & Morgan for a free and confidential case evaluation.
Suing a Dentist for Medical Malpractice
In order to sue your dentist for pain and suffering, you must prove that they were negligent and that you’re entitled to compensation. In order to win a claim against your dentist, you must prove several different elements. The laws change slightly depending on which state you’re located in, but in order to win, you must prove the following in a medical malpractice case:
The first thing you must prove in order to be successful in a medical malpractice case against your dentist is that they had a duty of care to treat you. This is generally established by simply showing that there was a doctor-patient relationship between you and the dentist. To show this connection, you can provide evidence that you and the dentist agreed that they would be providing your care. This is usually the easiest element to prove. If you went to the dentist and they simply performed a medical service of any kind, chances are you’ve satisfied this element.
The next element that must be proven is that your dentist breached that duty of care. Every dentist is required to treat their patients to a certain standard of care. The test for this is in asking whether an ordinary, prudent dentist—in good standing, and of same or similar educational background and geographic location—would administer the same care under the same or similar circumstances. If the answer is that no other dentist would have acted the way your dentist did, this could satisfy one of the main elements of a medical malpractice case. For example, if all dentists are required to use certain professional instruments when extracting a tooth, and your dentist decided to use common pliers, they’re likely breaching this standard of care that they owe to all of their patients. When you start thinking, “can I sue my dentist for pain and suffering,” the answer is probably yes if they used the wrong instrument to extract a tooth.
Next, you must prove that you suffered injuries. If all you experienced was a little bit of pain that went away after a couple of hours, it’s unlikely that you could successfully recover compensation through a medical malpractice suit. In some circumstances, if the pain were severe enough and left you with lasting emotional effects, you might be able to sue for pain and suffering. If you’re left with serious physical injuries as well, it will be much easier to successfully sue your dentist for pain and suffering, especially because you can show the specific reason for the injury.
Finally, you must prove that the injuries you suffered were actually caused by your dentist’s negligence—their breach of the standard duty of care. If you suffered harm at the dentist’s office, but it had nothing to do with their negligence, you won’t be successful in a medical malpractice claim.
Common Dental Medical Malpractice Issues
Every medical malpractice case is unique, but there are some common dental issues that give rise to a medical malpractice claim, including the following:
- Negligent dental work, such as using the wrong equipment or tools
- Failure to diagnose or treat a condition that ends up causing you a lot of harm
- Delay in diagnosis of a harmful condition
- Intentional misconduct
How do I know if it was medical malpractice?
Truthfully, you might not know right away—or ever—if what you experienced was medical malpractice. This is where an experienced attorney comes in. Lawyers who have been handling these cases for decades know what to look for in this type of case. Contact an experienced lawyer to help you determine if you have an actionable medical malpractice claim.
How do you prove pain and suffering?
Pain and suffering is one of the more complicated injuries to prove in a medical malpractice claim because it’s so subjective. You generally can’t see pain and suffering by just looking at someone, as you can with many other injuries that occur as a result of medical malpractice, so your lawyer will have to dig a bit deeper. One of the most common ways to prove pain and suffering is by presenting records of your appointments with a therapist or psychiatrist. In addition to this, your lawyer will likely want to speak with your friends and family members to determine how this incident has changed you. They can share information about what you were like before the incident, how it has changed you, and what you’re now unable to do because of the pain and suffering you’re experiencing. It’s difficult to prove, but not impossible.
Is there a limit to how much I can collect in pain and suffering?
Some states have damage caps, meaning there’s a limit to how much compensation you can receive. While most states don’t have a cap for medical expenses and any other expenses that are clearly a result of the incident, some states have caps for emotional injuries. You can speak with an attorney in your area who is familiar with your local rules and laws to get a better idea of whether there’s a cap in your state or not.
Can I sue my dentist for pain and suffering? How much time do I have to initiate a claim?
All states have a statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims. This means you must file your lawsuit within a certain period of time, or you’ll be barred from filing and recovering any compensation. This is true even if you had a clear case of medical malpractice that you would’ve been successful in pursuing. The actual deadline to file the case varies depending on which state you’re located in. Typically, it’s anywhere from one to four years from the date of the injury you suffered. If you believe you have a medical malpractice claim, contact a lawyer as soon as possible. You don’t want to miss out on compensation because you missed an important deadline.
What are some common issues that lead to a medical malpractice claim?
The fact that you have pain or are suffering from dental complications doesn’t automatically mean you have a medical malpractice claim against your dentist – but it might. Some common situations that lead to an actionable claim include pain, infections, numbness, paralysis of all or part of your face, loss of sensation, tingling, difficulty speaking, and more. Usually, these symptoms must be long-lasting; not just for a few hours or a day.
How long will my case take?
All medical malpractice cases are different, so it’s hard to say exactly how long your case will last. Most cases are settled before they ever get to trial, which also affects how long the case takes. If your claim is straightforward and the defendant is willing to settle, your case could be resolved within months. If your case is more complicated and it needs to be decided in the courtroom, it could be years before the case is resolved, and it could take even longer for you to actually collect payment. This is why so many cases are settled before trial.
Do I need an expert witness in my dental malpractice case?
This will also depend on where you’re located and what your lawyer decides. In some states, it’s required to present testimony from an expert witness to prove a medical malpractice claim. Even if it’s not required, it’s almost always beneficial for you and your lawyer to utilize an expert witness. Expert witnesses can bolster your case and explain to the jury exactly why you deserve compensation.
Morgan & Morgan
Most of us already hate going to the dentist, no matter how nice and great our particular dentist is to us. Even when absolutely nothing goes wrong, it can be an uncomfortable experience for many just to visit the dentist. This is often made worse by dentists who are negligent and are responsible for causing long-lasting injuries. All of our lawyers here at Morgan & Morgan are experienced in handling medical malpractice claims, and we would be honored to help you. We take all of our cases on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t have to pay anything until we win or settle your case. Throughout the years, we have recovered more than ten billion dollars for our clients. When you hire Morgan & Morgan, you’re hiring dedicated, experienced, and compassionate lawyers. If you’re still wondering, “can I sue my dentist for pain and suffering?” contact us today for a free case evaluation.