Dental Malpractice: What You Need to Know
When you go in for a dental appointment, you reasonably expect that you will receive attentive, high-quality treatment. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
Dental negligence is a serious problem in the United States. In fact, according to data published by the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), approximately one in every seven medical malpractice lawsuits is filed against a dentist or dental professional.
At Dawson & Albritton, P.A., our top-rated North Carolina dental malpractice attorneys are committed to helping injured victims and their families recover the maximum available financial compensation. If you or your loved one was the victim of dental malpractice, we are here to help. To get immediate assistance with your legal claim, please do not hesitate to contact us at our Greenville, NC law office today.
Dental Malpractice Cases: Examples
Dental malpractice comes in a wide range of different forms. In some cases, patients are forced to undergo multiple, painful operations just to fix the error of their original dentist. In other cases, the victim could lose teeth or even suffer permanent nerve damage as a result of dental malpractice. In the very worst cases, dental malpractice can result in a patient suffering a life-threatening infection. Our North Carolina dental negligence lawyers have the skills and experience needed to handle the full range of malpractice claims. Some common examples of dental malpractice cases include:
- Botched extractions: A tooth extraction is a complex procedure; it must be executed with proper care and high technical skill. Dentists that rush through or otherwise botch extractions may cause severe harm to their patients. This could include infections, nerve damage, damage to surrounding teeth, and broken (jaw) fractures.
- Failure to diagnose: When you go in for a dental check-up, you should be able to rely on your dentist to spot problem. In some cases, a dentist’s failure to diagnose serious issues — including periodontal disease — in its earliest stages can result in a patient suffering severe complications down the road.
- Complications of an endodontic procedure: Endodontic procedures (root canals) are delicate operations. If you or your loved one has suffered any type of medical complication as a result of a root canal, you should speak to an experienced dental malpractice lawyer immediately.
- Anesthesia errors: Many dental procedures involve the use of anesthesia. By its very nature, anesthesia is dangerous. It must be used by a professional who is well trained and who takes stringent safety precautions to protect their patients from harm.
- Substandard care leading to nerve damage and oral infections: Finally, it should be noted that substandard dental care — whether it is overly rough treatment of the patient or the failure to properly sterilize equipment — can result in severe damage. Infections and permanent nerve damage are two of the most common complications that lead to dental malpractice claims. If you suffered either nerve damage or a serious infection after receiving dental care, you should speak to an experienced attorney about your case.
Dental Malpractice Statute of Limitations
Under North Carolina law ( N.C. Gen. Stat. section 1-15(c)), the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice claim — including a dental malpractice claim — is three years. With very limited exceptions, a victim of dentist malpractice in North Carolina must file their legal claim within three years of the date that they received treatment.
Though, if your injury was not reasonably discoverable at the time you received dental care, the statute of limitations may be extended for up to one additional year. Regardless, there is no reason to wait to seek legal help. If you were the victim of dentist or dental hygienist negligence, you should consult with a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible.
How to Hold Negligent Dental Professionals Liable
There is no guarantee that any medical procedures will go perfectly. Indeed, patients are inherently required to accept some level of risk. For this reason, proving that you suffered injuries or adverse side effects after receiving dental treatment is insufficient to prevail in a medical malpractice claim. To hold a dentist liable, you must also prove that your injuries or complications occurred as a result of the substandard care that you received. If the dental care was worse than an ordinary dentist would have provided under reasonably similar condition, then you may have been the victim of dental malpractice.
There are four required elements of a dental malpractice lawsuit:
- A dentist-patient relationship existed;
- The patient received substandard care from the dental professional;
- There is a causal link between the substandard care provided and the patient’s injuries; and
- The patient must prove the extent to which he or she suffered actual harm as a result of the negligence.
In practice, proving dental malpractice can be deeply challenging. For this reason, it is crucial that injured victims consult with a qualified North Carolina dental malpractice lawyer as soon as possible after receiving inadequate care. Medical malpractice cases always require a comprehensive investigation. Often, expert witnesses will be used to testify on behalf of the plaintiff. Your lawyer will be able to review the specific nature of your claim in order to determine what steps need to be taken to build the strongest legal case on your behalf.
What Compensation is Available to Victims of Dental Malpractice?
Proving liability is just one step in a dental malpractice claim. To get access to the full and fair financial compensation that you deserve, you must prove the actual value of your damages. In North Carolina, financial relief can be awarded for both direct economic losses and for noneconomic damages. Unfortunately, even if cases where dental negligence is clear, the insurance companies that defend malpractice claims are still likely to challenge your claim: you should expect them to try to undervalue your damage in settlement negotiations. Patients need a strong legal representative by their side. At Dawson & Albritton, P.A., our North Carolina dental malpractice lawyers can help you seek money damages for:
- Emergency medical bills;
- Other related medical/dental bills;
- Lost current and future wages;
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress;
- Permanent disfigurement;
- Permanent impairment; and
- The wrongful death of a family member.
Why Choose the Dental Malpractice Lawyers at Dawson & Albritton, P.A.
Our North Carolina dental malpractice attorneys fight tirelessly to protect the legal rights and financial interest of injured patients. If you suffered an injury, medical complications, or severe side effects after receiving dental treatment, our law firm is here for you and your family. You deserve a legal advocate who truly cares about your case and who will put in the time to get you the very best results. Our medical malpractice attorneys are prepared to:
- Review, research, and investigation your case;
- Explain your rights and options to you;
- Get access to all relevant documents and records;
- Work with dental experts to prepare a strong claim; and
- Take legal action against the negligent dentist and/or the responsible dental practice.
Get Help From a Greenville, NC Dental Malpractice Lawyer Today
At Dawson & Albritton, P.A., our North Carolina medical malpractice attorneys have extensive experience handling dental malpractice claims. If you or your loved one suffered any type of injury or adverse medical complications after receiving dental treatment, you need to take action.
Please do not hesitate to contact our law firm at 252-752-2485 or 1-800-261-9681 for a free, fully confidential legal consultation. With an office in Greenville, we serve communities throughout the region, including New Bern, Raleigh, Rocky Mount, Morehead City, and Winston-Salem.