When you go to the dentist, you trust that he or she will address the problems you have, not create more. However, there are some cases where a dentist will act negligently, potentially leaving their patient with a permanent, long lasting injury. In order for the injured patient to have a successful dental malpractice claim against their dentist, he or she needs to show the four elements of a malpractice claim: (1) a duty existed between the dentist and the patient, (2) that duty was breached (a breach in the standard of care), (3) an injury occurred, and (4) the failure to meet the standard of care lead to the injury.
The Existence of a Duty
Patients must first prove that their dentist had a duty to care for them. This is generally implied when there is a dentist-patient relationship. The patient will need to show through documentation that their dentist was treating him or her as a dentist. The existence of a duty is usually easy to prove.
Breach of the Standard of Care
Once it has been shown that the dentist had a duty to care for their patient, the patient will need to prove that their dentist violated the standard of care. Roughly defined, the standard of care is what is considered clinically acceptable and recommended under the circumstances.
The Patient was Injured by the Dentist
The patient must show that the dentist caused an injury. This may not be hard to prove because in most cases, the injury is the reason the patient is suing their dentist.
Proving that the Violation of the Standard of Care Resulted in the Injury
The patient then needs to prove that their injury resulted due to the negligence of their dentist. It is not necessarily easy to prove this element. It is possible for the patient to be injured even though the dentist did not breach the standard of care. In that instance the dentist would not be liable for medical malpractice. Only when the patient has proven that the dentist’s negligence caused the patient’s injury, can there be a successful medical malpractice claim.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence of a dentist, contact an experienced dental malpractice attorney as soon as possible to evaluate your case.
But what do you think? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at [email protected] You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.