Medical malpractice is a broad area of personal injury law. Usually, the first thing that people think of is when a doctor or nurse negligently causes harm to a patient, such as with a botched surgery. But medical malpractice isn’t just for surgeons or hospitals. Did you know that dentists are also liable under medical malpractice laws?
Here’s what you need to know about dental malpractice, what it is, and how to get legal help if you’ve been hurt.
What Is Dental Malpractice?
Dental malpractice is a form of medical malpractice. A common misperception about medical malpractice for any healthcare provider is that any poor outcome of a treatment, procedure, or surgery is malpractice. The truth is that modern medicine comes with no guarantees of success for any medical treatments. Sometimes, despite the best efforts of healthcare personnel, the treatment simply doesn’t work.
There are certain cases, though, when a medical professional fails to act in a manner consistent with the standards of his or her profession. Dentists and other healthcare professionals have what’s legally called a “duty of care” to patients, and when that duty is breached, it’s often grounds for a malpractice lawsuit. Some examples of situations when a dentist may be liable include:
- Causing permanent nerve damage, especially if the patient was not notified of the risk.
- Failure to diagnose a condition that should have been detected.
- Improper treatment plans that cause harm, due to misdiagnosis or a failure to take the patient’s complete medical history into consideration.
- Unnecessary procedures, such as tooth extractions, bridges, or crowns.
- Improperly performed procedures that don’t meet professional standards.
- Performing the wrong procedure, or removing the wrong teeth.
- Anesthesia errors.
- Unexpected tooth loss after a procedure.
- Severe chronic pain after a procedure.
Other situations when a dental malpractice suit may be appropriate may include inappropriate or unprofessional actions (or failures to act) by the dentist, dental hygienists, or other staff—for example, if a failure to wash hands or properly sterilize instruments causes an infection.
Informed consent is an absolute must before any procedure, as well. If a dentist fails to secure informed consent from a patient, he or she may be liable for a malpractice lawsuit for not disclosing the risks and benefits of a procedure, especially if the procedure causes harm.
Dental Malpractice Damages in Texas
A successful dental malpractice suit in Texas can result in substantial damage awards for the plaintiff, including the costs of:
- Any and all medical bills related to the incident.
- Lost wages from time spent away from work.
- Pain and suffering experienced as a result of the injury.
- Mental anguish caused by the experience.
Other damages may be possible, as well. However, it’s important to note that in Texas, there is a cap on non-economic damage awards for all medical malpractice lawsuits, and that may include your dental case, too. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, mental anguish, and any other damage that can’t be easily quantified by an objective dollar amount. Non-economic medical malpractice damages are capped at $250,000 against any healthcare provider or single institution, or $500,000 if more than one medical institution is involved.
Get Legal Help With Dental Malpractice
Dental malpractice cases, like any medical malpractice situation, involve a lot of research and investigative work to succeed. Finding an experienced personal injury attorney who is familiar with the challenges of a dental case like yours can take the burden of the lawsuit off of your shoulders, so that you can focus on the most important aspect of your journey: recovery.
If you’ve suffered a serious injury due to the negligence, recklessness, or wrongdoing of a dentist or other dental health care provider, Wayne Wright LLP would like to hear from you. We’ve spent decades fighting for the rights of victims in a court of law, and we want to help you seek the compensation that you may be owed. To speak to a qualified legal professional about your situation, call us by phone, use our contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with us today.