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