Can I Sue My Dentist For Bad Dental Work?
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
If you’ve been hurt or disfigured by a botched dental procedure, you have the right to sue for compensation.
Standard Of Care
General and specialized dentists — oral surgeons, periodontists, and orthodontists — are expected to adhere to high standards in service delivery. In Michigan, these regulations and standards are summarized by the Michigan Dental Association and can provide a baseline for understanding the professional obligations these medical professionals have in providing dental care and services in Michigan.
The medical standard of care is often defined as the level at which an ordinary dentist in good standing — another professional operating in the same geographic location and with similar educational credentials — would administer care under similar circumstances.
While the practice of dentistry is not an exact science, and a host of variables can come into play depending on the treatment or procedure in question, there are many cases on the books where a dentist has clearly crossed a line and violated the standard of care.
If you’re wondering if you have a medical malpractice lawsuit, getting some legal advice is a good first step. An attorney at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. will be happy to meet with you at your convenience. After this free consultation, if we decide to work together, we will represent you on a contingency fee arrangement. This means we don’t get paid until we settle your case or win a judgment in court.
Common Dental Malpractice Claims
Examples of when basic standards have been violated — and malpractice occurs — can be summarized by looking at the areas where most malpractice claims cluster.
- Anesthesia. Improperly administered anesthesia is the most common basis for dental malpractice cases.
- Extractions. Extracting the wrong tooth, or problems related to and extraction including reactions to injections, nerve damage, or perforations of nearby tissue.
- Infections. Infections following a dental procedure leading to brain abscesses, cardiac complications, or blood poisoning.
- Dental Implants and Endodontic (Root Canal) Procedures. Infections, sinus and nerve damage, lost implants, inadequate follow-up care.
- Crowns and Bridges. If done improperly, the result can be disfiguring, create chewing difficulties, and sometimes cause infections.
- Orthodontics. Corrective treatments (braces) that aren’t done properly can result in tooth loss, root complications, and infection.
- Periodontal Disease. A dentist’s failure to diagnose and treat gum disease, or bungled or disfiguring gum surgery performed to fight periodontal disease.
- Cancer. A dentist’s failure to identify mouth cancers during routine examinations.
An attorney from Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. can help you understand your legal situation and options, and assist you in every step of the claims process. Our law firm specializes in personal injury and medical malpractice law. Every day we help individuals and families recover damages for injuries sustained through the negligence of another.
Statute Of Limitations
Dental malpractice is governed by the same laws as medical malpractice, and there are time limits associated with filing a lawsuit. In Michigan, medical malpractice injury claims may be filed within two years of the dentist’s act — or failure to act — that is the source of the claim. The law also makes provision for a claim based on discovery after the fact. In such cases, the claim must be filed within six months of when the injury was discovered.
There are also special filing deadline provisions for minors (under 18) and people living with serious mental illness built into the law.
Serving Notice And Other Requirements
A dental malpractice case in Michigan is initiated by filing a Notice of Intent to File Suit (NOI). This must be in writing and served upon the prospective defendant(s) at least 182 days before the actual lawsuit is filed. Serving the NOI puts the statute of limitations on hold for 182 days.
During this period, the plaintiff must submit an affidavit of merit, signed by a qualified medical and/or dental professional as defined in the law (MCL 600.2169). This affidavit must be constructed in a particular way, and include:
- A statement regarding the applicable standard of care
- The professional opinion that the defendant violated the standard of care
- A statement articulating how this violation caused the plaintiff’s injuries
The defendant (or defendants) also file an affidavit of meritorious defense, signed by a qualified expert, responding to the plaintiff’s claims.
Proving Dental Malpractice
Filing a dental malpractice lawsuit involves working closely with a personal injury attorney. Together, you’ll need to prove that:
- You were a patient of the dentist/defendant named in the claim, and therefore the dentist owed you a basic duty of care
- What the dentist should have done is different than what was done
- What the dentist did (or failed to do) was wrong
- You were injured (measurable damages)
The evidence you’ll need to prove your case includes all your medical records related to the dental procedure and verification of your injuries from another doctor or dentist. This is basic evidentiary material, and you have the right to request copies of your dental chart, x-rays, and other records from all treating dentists.
You’ll also need to assemble any communications with the dentist/defendant, including instruction sheets and any authorization forms you had to sign. As the plaintiff, it’s also extremely helpful to write your own detailed notes about everything you remember that the dentist and dental staff said to you.
Let Us Help
The amount of compensation you can receive when you pursue a dental malpractice claim will depend on many factors such as any pain and suffering you experienced and the attorney and law firm you find to work with you on your case.
In general, the factors considered in medical and dental malpractice claims include:
- The duration and severity of your complications
- The costs associated with additional surgeries and treatments
- Lost income as a result of complications
- Whether the injuries and/or disfigurement are temporary or permanent
These lawsuits also consider other nonmedical impacts on your life — other kinds of losses — that are the result of your dental malpractice injury.
The professionals at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. want to hear your story, learn about your situation, and explore legal options with you.
Contact us toll-free (24 hours) at 866-MICH-LAW or use our convenient online contact form.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.