Common Dental Negligence Lawsuits

Posted in: Medical Malpractice | Dec 15,2022

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury because of dentist error or negligence, you may be considering filing a dental malpractice lawsuit. Like all medical professionals, dental providers must uphold a standard of care. This post spotlights what a dental negligence lawyer must address and some of the most common causes for dental negligence lawsuits when a dentist, dental hygienist, oral surgeon, or other dental provider fails to uphold that standard of care and a patient is injured. 

What is dental negligence?

Dental negligence is behavior by a dental professional that harms a patient. It may involve failing to properly treat or perform a timely or correct diagnosis, failure to refer a patient to a specialist, or other types of negligence that results in serious injury (or death) of a patient.

How to prove dental negligence in Indiana

It is not enough to simply show that you had an adverse experience in a dentist’s chair or even that your dentist made a mistake. Dental malpractice lawyers must be able to prove, as in other negligence cases, the following to successfully argue your case:

  1. Duty – The dentist or other professional owes you a duty of care only if you and the provider in question have established a doctor-patient relationship.
  2. Breach – Next, your attorney must prove the dental professional breached their duty by failing to uphold the standard of care for their profession. The standard of care refers to the type and level of care that another reasonable dentist or professional with the same level of training would have administered under similar circumstances. It is not enough to merely show that your dentist made an error. The error must be avoidable, and your attorney must prove that a provider exhibiting reasonable care would not have made the same mistake.
  3. Causation – Your attorney must prove that you suffered an injury directly from the dental provider’s failures.
  4. Damages – Finally, your attorney must prove that you incurred damages as a result of your injuries. These damages may include any economic losses and physical and emotional pain you have experienced.

Common Types of Dental Negligence Cases

Failure to diagnose

Failure to diagnose a serious condition can cause a patient to suffer unnecessary harm as issues go untreated or become worse. A delay in diagnosis or failure to diagnose periodontal disease is among the most common events leading to a dental malpractice lawsuit. Untreated, periodontal disease can lead to more advanced infection, loss of teeth, and other complications. Dentists may also be responsible for failure to order and correctly interpret imaging or tests to identify oral cancers. While many oral cancers are treatable if caught early enough, missed or undiagnosed cases can advance, spread, and become life-threatening.

Anesthesia errors

Oral surgery and some extractions involve the use of anesthesia. If a dental anesthesiologist administers the wrong type—or wrong dose—of anesthesia, the results for patients can be seriously harmful or even fatal.

Extraction errors

Extractions are fairly routine, but errors during an extraction procedure can cause patients severe injury or illness. Complications may include extracting the wrong tooth, preventable infections, nerve damage, sinus perforation, and more.

Failure to refer you to a specialist

Some dental issues require the treatment of a specialist, such as a cancer specialist, an endodontist, or an oral surgeon. If your regular dentist fails to make a necessary referral or fails to communicate properly with your specialist, that failure may constitute negligence. 

Failure to supervise dental hygienists

In Indiana, the law specifies what kinds of tasks a dental hygienist may perform on a patient without a supervising dentist present. If a hygienist wrongfully performs a treatment they were not authorized to perform without supervision, this may constitute malpractice. Likewise, if a hygienist causes harm in carrying out a dentist’s orders, the dentist may be responsible for any resulting damage.

Faulty implants, crowns, or bridges

Improper dental implants, crowns, and bridges can lead to painful and expensive procedures to fix any sloppy or substandard work done by a careless dentist.

Montross Miller attorneys handle complex cases

Dental negligence cases are complex. Additional issues that could lead to a dental malpractice lawsuit include medication errors, surgical errors, broken jaws, failure to obtain informed patient consent, and more. For more than 40 years, we have helped people throughout Indiana navigate complex cases and know what to look for in dental negligence cases. Contact us today for a free consultation. It’s the first step toward rebuilding your life and getting the resources to help you move forward.