While there is no shortage of professional and trustworthy dentists in West Palm Beach, some shame their profession by providing substandard care. Dental malpractice can result in severe, sometimes permanent damage and injuries.
If you believe you may be a victim of dental malpractice, our team at DiBiaggio Law is happy to help you determine if you have a case. In the meantime, here are five critical points to understand about dental malpractice.
Your Consent Is Vital
Like any medical procedure, dental care requires informed consent. Any procedure performed without informed consent constitutes grounds for a dental malpractice lawsuit against the oral health care practitioner.
Informed consent is a legal term expressing understanding of an agreement to proceed with a treatment or procedure. Usually, this involves signing a written document stating you understand all the relevant information and accept any risks involved.
For example, let’s say a dental procedure is associated with a risk of infection, and you give informed consent. After the procedure, you do develop an infection. If the dentist adhered to an acceptable standard of care, you have no grounds for filing a lawsuit in this case.
Before having you sign an informed consent document, the dentist has to provide an opportunity to ask relevant questions that involve:
- The diagnosis
- Treatment options
- Description of the recommended treatment or procedure
- Any risks involved
If the dentist takes any shortcuts at this stage, you may file a claim for lack of informed consent if an unexpected complication arises. This point is valid even if the procedure itself was standard and performed correctly.
Common Forms of Dental Malpractice
Typical instances of dental malpractice include:
- Anesthesia complications, for example, an allergic reaction to Novocain
- Failure to diagnose oral cancers or periodontal diseases
- Complications with dental implants, crowns, or bridges
- Oral nerve injuries
- Using improper medical utensils
- Tooth extraction and root canal injuries
- Oral or jaw injuries resulting from using excessive force during the procedure
- Providing treatment beyond the dentist’s scope of expertise and failing to refer the patient to a specialist
- Unnecessary procedures (for example, extracting the wrong tooth)
- Failing to obtain informed consent
If you believe you have suffered from any of the above or any other form of dental malpractice, reach out to one of our dental malpractice lawyers.
What Does the Law Require Concerning a Dental Malpractice Claim?
To win a dental malpractice case in Florida, you need to prove four key points.
- The dentist was supposed to provide oral healthcare according to acceptable professional standards
- The dentist failed to comply with established standards of dental care
- Your injury resulted from the dentist’s breach of duty
- You have suffered because of the injury
The main component in winning a dental malpractice claim is proving a causal relationship. For example, let’s say you suffer from lasting facial nerve damage because of a dental procedure. You would have to prove in court that the damage had indeed resulted from malpractice and not because of an underlying condition or some other circumstance.
Finally, you would have to demonstrate detailed, tangible damages resulting from inadequate care, such as:
- Loss of earnings (any time you had to take off work for recovery or additional treatment)
- Financial losses (such as paying for further treatment you wouldn’t have needed if not for the dental malpractice)
- Emotional or psychological trauma
When calculating damages, the court will consider several factors. These may include:
- The severity of the dental malpractice
- The severity of the resulting injury and whether it is reversible or not
- Any disabilities resulting from the injury (speech problems, facial nerve disorders, etc.)
- Loss of livelihood (for example, a public speaker may be unable to continue with their career if their speech ability deteriorates)
- Pain and suffering
- Any preexisting conditions that may have contributed to the injury
Given the complexity of dental malpractice cases, an experienced medical malpractice attorney can significantly increase your chances of winning.
How Can You Avoid Being a Victim of Dental Malpractice?
As a patient, you can do several things to minimize your chances of becoming a dental malpractice victim. Perhaps the most important is choosing a dentist with whom you feel safe and comfortable.
A good dentist will be open and honest with you, answer your questions patiently, and not pressure you to accept treatments or procedures if you are not interested in them.
If in doubt, don’t be afraid to seek a second opinion. Some dental procedures require particular expertise. Getting a second opinion can reassure you and help you make the right decision.
Have You Suffered as a Result of Dental Malpractice?
Still, have questions or looking for a knowledgeable dental malpractice lawyer in South Florida? Contact the DiBiaggio Law team. We are based in West Palm Beach and serve clients in Palm Beach County, Broward County, Miami-Dade County, and Monroe County.
Call us today at 561-264-6041 to schedule a free consultation.
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DISCLAIMER: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
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