New York Dental Malpractice
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Dental Malpractice in New York
When you visit a dentist to seek help with your tooth problem, you expect them to exercise the highest standards of care when providing treatment. The truth is, while most dentists in New York are highly competent and professional, some are not. If you or your loved one has suffered significant harm due to the negligent actions of a dentist, you may need a New York dental malpractice attorney to fight for you.
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What Is Dental Malpractice?
Simply put, dental malpractice is when a patient is harmed due to negligence by a dentist or any other dental practitioner. This kind of malpractice, which also falls under medical malpractice, can occur in two main ways.
Firstly, dental malpractice can occur due to the actions of the dentist or any other dental practitioner. Secondly, this malpractice can occur due to a lack of action by a dentist or a dental practitioner.
In simple terms, a dental malpractice case may be based on what the dentist did that harmed you or your loved one or what they failed to do, harming you or your loved one as a result.
What Are Some Examples of Dental Malpractice?
Each dental malpractice case is unique. That said, here are some common examples of dental malpractice cases in New York and all over the country.
Improper extraction of teeth: This could lead to damage to the teeth and gums. It could also negatively affect the patient's overall dental wellbeing.
Failure to diagnose: This refers to a situation where the dentist failed to diagnose a potential dental problem when examining the patient. As a result, the patient suffered significant harm. A good example is when a patient has oral cancer that could have been detected early enough by a competent dentist or any other professional in the dental field. If the patient develops serious complications due to cancer, they may have a dental malpractice case, citing failure to diagnose as their reason for the lawsuit.
Failure to treat complications: The human mouth carries many different bacteria. That's one of the reasons dentists recommend teeth brushing at least twice a day. So, when you go in for a dental procedure, and the dentist or any other dental practitioner fails to help you treat complications arising from different dental procedures, you may be able to hold them accountable for their negligence.
For instance, if your gums continue bleeding for days after a particular dental procedure, this could signify that something went wrong. You expect the dentist to take care of this problem as soon as you notify them about it. But if they fail to do so and you develop further complications due to the excessive bleeding, you may be able to sue them for negligence.
Failure to refer to a specialist: Dentists don't handle all kinds of dental problems that come their way. This is because dentistry is a broad profession. If your particular dentist cannot handle that specific dental problem, you expect them to refer you to a specialist who can. If they fail to do so and you develop complications later on, this could be a form of negligence.
Improper administration of anesthesia: Most dental processes require anesthesia before commencing. Anesthesiologists are usually responsible for administering anesthesia to patients before certain medical processes. This is done to make the nerves insensitive to pain. However, while anesthesia can help prevent sensitivity to pain, it can also harm the patient if administered wrongly. For example, a high dosage of anesthesia can send the patient into a coma.
Lack of consent: Picture this—you wake up at a dentist's office with a few missing teeth. You don't remember signing a consent form to approve that medical procedure. Even worse is that you're in severe pain and are probably allergic to some of the chemicals used during the procedure. In that case, if you did not consent to this procedure, you may be able to sue the dentist. The reasoning here is that a dental practitioner, or any other medical professional for that matter, has no right to perform such procedures without the patient's consent.
How to Prove Dental Malpractice in New York
Medical malpractice cases, in general, are difficult to prove. And when it comes to dental malpractice, it's even more complicated but not impossible. Here's how to prove dental malpractice in New York:
Prove Patient-Dentist Relationship
The first and most important thing to do is prove that the said dentist or dental practitioner was responsible for your dental health. In other words, you must prove that you had a patient-dentist relationship with them. If you can't prove this element, you likely won't have a case against the other party.
The argument here is that you can't sue a medical practitioner if you weren't their patient in the first place.
To prove this element, you'll need to provide supporting documents. For example, did the dentist sign you up officially as their client? If so, you may have been required to fill out an application or other paperwork proving a patient-dentist relationship.
Remember, you don't need to have had that particular dentist for a long time in order to prove the existence of this relationship. In fact, you may still have a patient-dentist relationship even if you met that dentist for the first time that particular day before the dental procedure went wrong.
You must also prove that the dentist's actions or inaction caused significant harm. In this case, the dentist must have been careless, reckless, forgetful, or even completely unqualified to provide this kind of service to patients.
You must also prove that any other qualified and reasonable dentist or medical practitioner acting under similar circumstances wouldn't have made the same mistakes the dentist made.
Here's one important thing you need to know—even if the dentist was incompetent and negligent, you don't have a malpractice case if you can't prove that their negligent actions actually harmed you. In other words, no harm, no case.
Lastly, you must prove that the injuries you suffered were a result of the dentist's negligence. This means that you won't have enough legal grounds to file a dental malpractice claim even if the doctor was negligent and you got injured by anything other than the dentist's negligent actions.
What Damages Can You Recover From a Successful Dental Malpractice Lawsuit?
The exact type of damages you may be able to recover will depend on the specifics of your case. This is because each case is unique. That said, here are some of the most common damages you may be able to recover:
You may be able to recover the money you spent out of pocket to pay for medical bills to treat that specific dental problem. This might also include the cost of medication or any other specialized care you needed to treat the problem.
If you were unable to work due to the dental complications caused by the dentist's negligence, you might be able to recover the lost wages. Similarly, you might have lost several opportunities to earn a living if you're self-employed. For this reason, you might be able to add this loss to your overall claim.
You might also add a permanent disfigurement claim if the dentist's negligence caused you permanent disfigurement or partial impairment. For example, if the anesthesiologist used excessive amounts of anesthesia and you suffered permanent or partial nerve damage, you may be able to add this to your claim.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering are part of the many non-economic damages you may be able to recover, depending on the circumstances of your case. Other examples of non-economic damages include inconvenience, loss of companionship, and mental anguish.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Dental Malpractice Cases in New York?
In New York, you have up to two years and six months from the time of injury to file a dental malpractice claim. You may not be able to recover compensation for damages if you file a claim outside this time limit.
However, as with other statutes of limitations, New York has certain exceptions when it comes to dental malpractice lawsuits, which fall under the umbrella of medical malpractice.
Here's everything you need to know about these exemptions:
Suppose the dentist or dental practitioner forgot a particular medical instrument inside the patient's body while providing dental care services. In that case, the law requires such a patient to file a lawsuit no later than one year after the date of the incident. The reasoning here is that one year is long enough to discover a foreign object left in a patient's body by a medical practitioner.
Additionally, the statute of limitations clock won't begin to count if the patient is receiving continuous treatment for that particular injury. This is because it might be difficult or even impossible for the patient to take legal action while undergoing treatment. Also, taking legal action while undergoing treatment could jeopardize the standard of medical care given to the patient.
In New York, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice does not apply to children. However, the clock begins to count when the child reaches their 18th birthday.
It's also important to note that the statute of limitations for medical malpractice in New York will also depend on the type of hospital. For instance, if the malpractice occurred at a government-owned hospital, you have up to 90 days after the incident to file a claim.
How Can a Dental Malpractice Attorney Help?
As you've discovered, dental malpractice and medical practice cases, in general, are complex. These cases require a lot of legal research, experience, and resources. For this reason, you need someone who's well-equipped and trained – that's where a dental malpractice attorney comes in.
Such an attorney can help evaluate your case to determine its validity. As discussed earlier, these claims must meet certain elements to be considered valid.
The attorney will also help you collect evidence relevant to your case, assuming it's valid. Such a lawyer understands what counts as strong evidence and what might not be good enough in front of the jury or the other party's legal representatives.
A dental malpractice attorney will also assess your damages to determine how much compensation you may be able to recover. And if you need specialized treatment, the attorney should be able to provide some recommendations.
Once they've built a strong case on your behalf, the attorney will file a claim with the other party's insurer. If the insurer isn't willing to settle, the case might be decided by a judge or jury.
Throughout the entire process, the attorney will help you handle all complex paperwork, keep up with strict deadlines, and prepare you for different scenarios, such as appearing at deposition or before the court.
If you believe that a dentist's negligent actions harmed you or your loved one, get in touch with an experienced dental malpractice attorney from Morgan and Morgan.
Why Morgan and Morgan?
Morgan and Morgan is the largest personal injury law firm in the country. For this reason, our attorneys are well-equipped with the resources, training, and experience needed to handle dental malpractice cases in New York and the entire country.
How Much Do Morgan and Morgan Dental Malpractice Attorneys Charge their Clients?
Morgan and Morgan offer legal representation on a contingency basis. Our clients do not owe us anything unless we win the case. So when you contact us for a case evaluation, you have nothing to lose but so much to gain.
Do I Need to Pay for Consultation?
No, we do not charge our clients any consultation fee. When you fill out our free case evaluation form, one of our legal representatives will review your case. And if you have a valid claim, they will walk you through the next steps.