How to Sue a Dentist: A Complete Guide
Dentists are required to uphold a professional standard of care when looking after their patients. This includes their legal duty to focus on whatever procedure they are performing at all times and double-checking that they are within the extent of the consent of their practice. So what happens if a dentist fails to uphold these obligations and causes an injury?
Reasons to Sue a Dentist
Dental malpractice is a serious legal ground for suing a dentist. These constitute a variety of incidents that result in injury during a dental procedure. The most common injury that requires a lawsuit is nerve damage to the facial and oral cavity. The list below shows more common reasons to sue a dentist:
- Failure to diagnose periodontal diseases
- Failure to properly examine a patient for specific dental disorders (i.e. oral cancer)
- Improper use of dental instruments
- Inappropriate administration of anesthesia
- Inappropriate or unwarranted treatment
- Unwarranted surgery
What Do You Need to Prove When Suing A Dentist?
Suing a dentist for negligence will require the same legal elements as personal injury torts. For the plaintiff to have a case against the defendant that holds in court, you must prove the following:
|Duty||The defendant owes a duty to you, which means you, the plaintiff filing the lawsuit, are a patient of the dentist.|
|Breach of Standard of Care||The defendant failed to act within a standard of care that is practiced by dentists in similar circumstances. This can be proven by another dentist who can testify against the defendant, in that he/she failed to provide the accepted standard in their industry.|
|Causation||You will need to establish that the dentist’s negligence was the direct cause of your injury.|
|Damages||You must prove that you have incurred additional expenses because of the injury. This may include having to pay for additional dental procedures to fix the mistake, hospital bills for treatment of dental complications, or lost wages for missing work due to the injury.|
In addition to proving these legal elements, you also need to ensure you have proper documentation. This will help provide a clear chronology of events, treatment plans, and correspondence between the dentist and the patient. When collecting documentation, make sure to include:
- Written informed consent for the treatments
- Patient’s medical history
- Treatment plans including the reason for any treatments
- Any notes that were written during the procedure
How to Sue a Dentist for Malpractice
The procedures for filing a lawsuit against a dentist will vary depending on each state’s laws and statutory requirements. You also need to look into the proper court to file the lawsuit. For cases involving minor injuries such as a substandard crown or a fumbled root canal, suing in small claims court would suffice. Indeed, you can keep expenses to a minimum since there is no lawyer fee to worry about. Here are the steps to follow:
- Contact your dentist to get a better understanding of what may have happened. Allow them the opportunity to correct the mistake.
- Get examined by another dentist to establish a breach of the standard of care. The other dentist can also advise if your malpractice lawsuit has merit.
- Gather evidence. You may also contact the dental licensing board to get familiar with treatment protocols and procedures.
- Check your state’s statute of limitations which can be around one to two years from the date of when the injury happened.
- Consider mediation if you would like to settle your claim outside of court.
- If you decide to proceed to sue, draft a complaint letter that states the basic elements of your claim.
- File the complaint with the clerk of court and serve the defendant.
- Show up for the trial and defend your case.
How to Sue a Dentist with DoNotPay
In theory, suing a dentist may seem plain and simple. But in practice, it involves a lot of bureaucracies, forms to fill up, and demand letters to draft. Let DoNotPay handle it for you! Our robot lawyer will help streamline the suing process for you. All you need to do is:
- Log in to DoNotPay and select the Sue Now product
- Enter the dollar amount you are owed
- Select whether you want a demand letter or court filing forms
- Describe the reason for the lawsuit and submit any applicable details, including photo proof
That’s it! DoNotPay will then generate a demand letter or court filing forms for you. We’ll also mail a copy of your demand letter to your dentist!
Who Else Can DoNotPay Help Sue?
We have a proven track record of helping our users in their legal troubles. Our app has been helping users sue individuals and businesses such as: