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Can I Sue My Dentist?

Medical malpractice does not only refer to the negligence of a doctor or nurse. It can also refer to dental malpractice. This is the professional negligence of a dentist, dental assistant, orthodontist, oral surgeon or another dental professional. Bringing a lawsuit against your dentist in San Jose could result in payment for your damages if he or she negligently injured you. You might have grounds to file if all four elements of a claim exist.

Dentist-Patient Relationship

You will not have a claim against a dentist if he or she was not your dentist at the time of the alleged harm. If you asked a dentist friend at a cocktail party for advice about a sore tooth, for example, you would not have a medical malpractice claim for bad advice. A professional dentist-patient relationship must have been present at the time of your injury or illness. You or your medical malpractice lawyer can establish this element of proof with documents such as patient records, dental bills and medical documents.

Your dentist will owe you specific duties of care within the dentist-patient relationship. These duties include performing reasonable, prudent dentistry as an ordinary professional would in similar circumstances. Your dentist will have a duty to conduct proper checkups and cleanings, diagnose conditions and recommend appropriate treatments. Any actions outside of the standard duties of care could constitute negligence if it hurts you as the patient.

Breach of Professional Duties of Care

Second, the dentist must have breached the duty to exercise reasonable care to be liable for your damages. You or your lawyer must provide evidence that an ordinary dentist would have done something differently to avoid the injury in the same situation. Testimony from a fellow dental professional could prove this breach of professional duty. Many different actions and omissions could constitute dental malpractice.

Dental malpractice can take many shapes and forms, but they all share one main element: negligence. The neglect to properly care for a patient’s needs, resulting in injury or death to the patient, is malpractice. Negligence, recklessness, wanton carelessness or intentional wrongdoing on a dentist’s part could all give grounds for a malpractice claim.

Causal Link to Your Injuries

Third, you or your lawyer must demonstrate a connection between the dentist’s mistake or wrongdoing and the damages you suffered. The proximate – or main – cause of your injuries must be the dentist’s actions or misconduct. If your tooth would have fallen out regardless of the dentist’s treatments, for example, the dentist might not be liable for damages. You will only have a claim if you have proof the dentist’s malpractice caused or at least contributed to your losses.

Measurable Damages

Finally, you will need to have proof of damages. Dental malpractice can cause serious and even fatal personal injuries to a patient. Mistakes such as administering too much anesthesia, for example, could cause permanent brain damage or brain death. You must have suffered real, measurable and compensable damages because of the dentist’s lack of care to bring a lawsuit against a dentist.

The amount you receive with a successful claim will depend on the extent of your damages. To have a valid claim, you must file within the state’s deadline. In California, you have three years to file a civil claim against your dentist. If you do not discover your injury until later, such as undiagnosed oral cancer, you have one year from the date of discovery to file. Choosing to work with a San Jose injury attorney can make for an easier claims process. Schedule a free consultation with the lawyers of Henshaw & Henry, PC today to explore your legal options. Contact us today.