Can I sue my dentist for nerve damage?
So you visited your dentist, expecting them to sort out your dental issue, and they messed up, leaving you with nerve damage. Can you sue, and what are you required to prove? Should you appoint an attorney to sue on your behalf? What are the prospects of success?
Let’s answer some of these questions in the rabbit hole of nerve damage and dental malpractice.
How typical is nerve damage in dental malpractice suits?
Roughly 10% of dental malpractice cases are from nerve injury, so the incidence is relatively rare. Nevertheless, according to the True Cost of Health Care, in 2016, there were around 8,500 medical malpractice lawsuits. Approximately one thousand of these were for dental malpractice. However, the numbers are likely skewed since many potential plaintiffs are unaware of their right to sue dentists for malpractice.
What are the symptoms of nerve damage?
After dental procedures, some nerve damage symptoms include loss of feeling, burning, or tingling sensation in your lip, jaw, or cheek. Other symptoms include a dull ache along the gum line, pain in a single tooth or a general area in the mouth, discomfort after eating, especially hot, cold, or acidic foods.
Sometimes one can lose the ability to speak correctly and even to taste.
What amounts are generally awarded for nerve damage?
One of the most significant dental malpractice awards saw an award of $2.5 million. However, this is an exception. The average payment in a dental malpractice suit is $65,000. Each case is unique, and awards differ significantly between different plaintiffs. The cost of correction, pain, suffering and long-term treatment requirements are all considered during any award.
Is the dentist liable even if he made a genuine mistake?
Your dentist owes you a duty of care as a qualified professional. So even if your dentist made a genuine mistake, that duty of care could be breached so that they could be liable for your nerve damage.
What do I need to prove to claim successfully?
Four elements need to be proved in a dental malpractice suit. Firstly, there must have been a duty of care owed to you – the doctor-client relationship usually infers this. Secondly, you must prove that there has been a breach of the standard of care required. Thirdly, you need to prove that there is nerve damage. Lastly, you need to prove that the dentist caused the injury. Dentists must hold professional insurance cover for medical negligence, so don’t feel bad that you are suing for your injuries as it will not be coming directly out of their pockets!
Your injury should not be a minor one
Bear in mind that your injury should not be a minor one, or the chance of success in a malpractice suit is unlikely, even if the injury was due to malpractice. A claim is complex and is only worth pursuing where you have genuinely suffered a severe injury.
What kind of procedures can result in nerve damage?
The most common procedures which have the potential for causing nerve damage include root canal treatments, molar extraction, dental bridge installation, dental implants, and wisdom teeth removal.
Most of these procedures should be performed by specialist surgeons, so if your dentist has overreached his qualifications and skill level, they might face a personal injury claim.
Do you need to appoint an attorney?
If you believe your nerve damage was a direct result of your dental surgeon’s error, you may be asking yourself “can I sue my dentist for nerve damage?” The answer is yes, depending on the severity of your injuries and the negligence of your surgeon.
These cases are often complex and require knowledge of the law. In addition, medical procedures will probably need the calling of expert witnesses to establish negligence and are best left to lawyers to deal with. You may save in legal fees by representing yourself, but you will almost certainly lose in the award amount if you are indeed successful.
It is essential to see an experienced personal injury attorney with a well-established track record for dental malpractice suits. Your first consultation will be free and, if it is believed that you have a case, then the law firm will work on a contingency basis. This means they will absorb all costs as the matter proceeds, so you will not have to pay for anything. Should the lawyers win you an award, they will deduct legal fees and pay you the difference. Should they fail to secure an award, you will not be liable for any legal costs incurred.
How much time do you have to sue?
In Missouri, you have two years from the date the alleged malpractice occurred to institute your claim.
It is essential to see your lawyer as soon as you suspect that you have suffered severe nerve damage so that an assessment can be made and you can be advised on whether you likely have a case or not.