When people think of medical malpractice lawsuits, dentists aren't usually the first people to come to mind. However, dental malpractice is probably more common than you think. Some reasons people sue their dentists and other dental professionals might include wrong tooth extraction, failure to diagnose a serious disease, improper anesthesia administration, unnecessary oral damage, misdiagnosis, unnecessary procedures, and failure to seek consent before a procedure or to explain the risks fully.
To qualify for a dental malpractice suit, you'll need to prove that you were a patient of that dentist or dental professional, that the dentist or dental professional breached the expected standard of care, and that, as a result of this breach, you suffered from a serious injury or death in the case of a loved one. Your medical malpractice attorney can help you with all of this, but there are some things you can do to help prepare for your case. Make sure that what you do doesn't go against your state's laws or your attorney's instructions.
Find an Attorney If You Don't Already Have One
It may be obvious, but if you think you have a case against a dentist or other medical professional, you should start by consulting with an attorney. They'll know the exact laws in your state and how they may or may not apply to your situation. Look for an attorney who has experience with medical or dental malpractice. If you can't find one, ask around. Search online. Read reviews to see if previous clients were pleased with their outcomes. If you're concerned about paying, don't worry. Most of the time, attorneys who deal with malpractice suits usually take a percentage of whatever you win in your lawsuit.
If you think you have what it takes to start a dental malpractice lawsuit, start preparing as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the less likely you are to have a case. In many states, there's a statute of limitations of up to two years from the date of the injury or misdiagnosis, although there are some exceptions. Again, this is why it's important to consult with a dental malpractice attorney as soon as you can. They can help you navigate the timeline and determine whether it's too late.
Get a Second Opinion
You may be unsure as to whether or not your dentist was negligent, and that's understandable. After all, you probably didn't go to dental school and aren't sure what the legally accepted standard of care is for dental work. You know something isn't right. A great way to get proof of your dentist's negligence is to have another dentist who works in the same area and does the same types of procedures give you an exam and provide their opinion. In some states, this is required to sue a dentist. If you're hesitant to do this on your own, this is also something your attorney can help with, and they may even help you find another dentist to perform the exam.
Reach Out To Your Dentist
This is where many people are hesitant, but it's always a good idea to talk to your dentist before you decide on a malpractice lawsuit. They might be able to explain to you what went wrong and why, and they may even offer free or inexpensive services to help fix it. Also, in some states, you'll need proof that you did attempt to contact your dentists before deciding to go forward with a lawsuit.
Keep a File With Important Paperwork
Start a file with any paperwork related to your dental work. This might include appointment notes, medical records, and bills stating that you were that dentist's patient and had a certain procedure performed. If you get a second opinion, keep copies of any written statements provided by that dental professional. Finally, if dental malpractice costs you money or time, save this documentation. Maybe you missed time from work and had to purchase medications and other supplies to help deal with the aftermath. Perhaps you had to see other doctors because your health was failing due to dental malpractice. Keep records of everything and keep them organized in one central location.
Make Yourself Available
Finally, once you're ready to start your lawsuit, make yourself available to your attorney. Throughout the process, which can take months or years, they'll have questions for you, and the quicker you can provide answers, the quicker you can proceed. Be willing to share your documents or go to appointments as necessary. The more you cooperate, the more chance your attorney has of helping you win your lawsuit.