ABOUT DENTAL MALPRACTICE
Dental anesthesia injury
Will I wake up? That question crosses nearly every surgical patient’s mind. Oral surgery or dental procedure patients have minimal personal contact with their anesthesiologist before or after an operation. However, the anesthesiologist is a critical person in any surgery. They administer medication before and during surgery, monitor the patient’s condition and vital signs, and are responsible for their well-being immediately after surgery.
When an anesthesiologist administers the wrong anesthetic or administers anesthesia in the wrong dosage, the results can be catastrophic. Likewise, significant injuries can result from inappropriate monitoring during surgery.
When we represent patients who have suffered anesthesia-related medical malpractice injuries, our dental malpractice lawyers carefully review the surgery records and consult with anesthesiologists to determine the best way to present the patient’s claim.
Incorrect tooth extraction
Believe it or not, this is not as uncommon as you might think. Miscommunication, inadequate referral, and overworked dental personnel are the most common reasons for this preventable – but prevalent – problem. Wrong tooth extraction can cause nerve damage. Tooth extraction incorrectly done can cause tooth fracturing or jaw pain.
Non-supervision of the work of dental hygienists
Dental hygienists in Indiana are subject to Prescriptive Supervision Law, which allows them to provide dental hygiene services without a dentist present. There are standards of care and process the hygienist must follow and conditions and procedures, such as using a laser to cut tissue, they may not perform.
Non-referral to specialists
Some dental or oral surgery diagnoses may dictate referral to a specialist. Improper or non-referral can exacerbate a dental condition and result in further injury, loss of income or illness, and emotional distress.
Lack of informed patient consent
Dentists and oral surgeons must inform patients of risks involved with a proposed medical treatment or procedure. And they must not perform additional, unwanted, or unnecessary procedures. There are emergencies where quick action is necessary and appropriate – a patient under anesthesia may need reviving, for instance. Proving lack of informed patient consent is challenging, and it’s helpful to have an experienced medical malpractice lawyer review the facts of the case.
A dentist or oral surgeon should consider many questions when prescribing medicine for a patient. What is the patient’s illness? What is the best medication to prescribe? What is the proper dosage? What other prescription or over-the-counter drugs is the patient taking that might adversely interact with the prescribed medicine? Sometimes, preventable errors occur in prescribing and filling prescriptions. Those errors may result in serious injuries or even death.
Medication error malpractice claims are complex and require an expert review. In reviewing cases of improperly prescribed or improperly filled prescriptions, we carefully evaluate the patient’s medical conditions and medication history. We consult with experts and medical textbooks. If a preventable error has happened, we aggressively seek fair compensation for the patient who is a victim of a medication error.
Oral surgical patients put their oral health, and even their lives, in the hands of a doctor they trust. Any patient will tell you that there is no such thing as a “routine” surgery. Some surgeries are “open” surgeries, and some use fiberoptic scope with a video camera at the end.
Sometimes patients have an unfortunate outcome through no fault of the surgeon. However, a preventable surgical error occasionally occurs, resulting in life-changing consequences: a severed nerve, a fractured tooth, or a misplaced suture.
We take each dental malpractice case seriously. We read articles from surgical journals and review each case carefully with our attorney-physician and other healthcare experts. We do all of this to ensure that our clients receive fair compensation for the losses they have suffered due to a preventable surgical error.
WHAT WOULD BE CONSIDERED DENTAL MALPRACTICE?
WHAT IT IS
By definition, dental malpractice is negligence committed by a professional health care provider resulting in harm to a patient or patients. There are three components of medical malpractice that all cases must have:
- A failure by a professional to meet the medical standard of care
- An injury that results from that negligence
- Significant suffering caused by that injury
Because juries are often unfamiliar with medical terms and the law, they can misunderstand a dental malpractice victim’s case if an expert medical malpractice attorney is not trying the case. Medical malpractice attorneys are skilled in identifying whether medical professionals have violated the standard of care while attending to their patients. Your best bet is always to find a firm that can make your case.
WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE
Not all cases of dental malpractice include a traditional dentist. According to the legal definition, a dental professional is someone in the medical field with licensing or certification. Examples include an oral surgeon, dental hygienist, pharmacists, and dental anesthesiologists.
These caregivers train for years to give their patients the best care possible. Still, they can make errors that negatively affect their patients. Examples include premature release from a hospital, misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose mouth cancers, oral surgery injuries, and medication errors, among many others. Each of these can cause tremendous suffering to patients and their loved ones.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Dental malpractice causes patients and their loved ones to suffer in multiple areas of their life. While victims often experience health complications or cosmetic complications, the consequences can extend even further. Some may lose jobs or wages or may experience mental or emotional distress. The damage is often severe, and for that reason, Montross Miller sees it as our mission to empower victims of dental malpractice to recover losses. We resonate with the frustration that stems from suffering caused by negligence and improper care, and we want to help.
INVESTIGATION & REVIEW PROCEDURES
REVIEWING YOUR CASE
Dental malpractice leaves lasting physical, emotional, mental, or financial consequences that can put patients at a disadvantage for life. We work alongside you to determine whether you have a dental malpractice claim that we can use to give you the justice and closure you deserve. If you have a case, our Indianapolis medical malpractice attorneys are here to ensure you get your due compensation without upfront fees.
After you contact us, one of our paralegals will meet with you over the phone and take detailed notes about your claim to guarantee you and your case fair representation. After the call, the paralegals will take the case to a review meeting attended by our attorneys and medical experts. Together, they will determine whether to pursue the matter further.
If the review team believes dental malpractice has occurred, they will investigate the case further. At this point, we will invite you into our office for a personal conference with an attorney. The attorney will guide you down the path of bringing your claim forward, request more information, and answer any questions you have. We will ask you to sign a representation agreement and a release of medical records. Then, we will bring on a physician and a paralegal to review your documents and determine whether your claim is legitimate. We will meet with you again and explain our recommendation based on your needs. We will then help you make an informed decision about whether to go forward with the claim.
IF YOU HAVE A CASE
Our attorneys work to strengthen your case as we prepare to form a lawsuit on your behalf. Our goal is to set your life back on the right trajectory so that you and your loved ones can move forward. Dental malpractice attorneys at Montross Miller will take the time to ensure that we represent you accurately, tell your story, and make your voice heard.
THE INDIANA MEDICAL MALPRACTICE ACT
WHAT IT IS
When medical malpractice attorneys form lawsuits against Indiana medical professionals, they must follow the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act. As someone who may have experienced medical malpractice, you deserve to understand the impact of this Act.
*Note: The following is only valid for those wishing to file a complaint against a medical professional under Indiana law.*
The Act states that medical review panels must review all medical malpractice claims before an attorney files them in court. A healthcare provider and insurance carrier must notify the claim within legal time restraints. With a few exceptions, patients must file malpractice claims in the first two years after the incident. Exceptions include children and claims of reasonable discovery. You may file a claim before their eighth birthday if the patient is under six years old. Also, there may still be a case if the patient could not have reasonably discovered the injustice in the first two years following the malpractice.
The Act also requires that Indiana has a Patient’s Compensation Fund (PCF) to ensure that all patients who win their cases receive compensation. The Fund helps pay for the settlement since the Indiana healthcare provider can only be responsible for $250,000-$500,000, depending on when the malpractice occurred.
A victim, known under the law as the plaintiff, will file a proposed dental malpractice complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance. The Department will then notify the defendant, or the medical professional in question, and their insurance carrier of the proposed claim. The defendant will then acquire a defense attorney.
Once this happens, the plaintiff and the defendant work together to form a medical review panel. To ensure impartiality, each of these two parties selects a doctor to serve on the panel. The two doctors then choose a third member, and an attorney functions as a non-voting chairman. The plaintiff and the defense both have the right to give testimony. The parties prepare booklets called medical malpractice submissions that describe their cases. These submissions may contain medical records, statements from parties, testimonies, expert reports, medical texts, medical journal articles, or other pieces of evidence.
As the panel members review the submissions, the plaintiff and the defendant can ask the doctors about their views on the validity of the case. When they are done reviewing, the panel will express whether or not they believe the evidence supports the plaintiff’s complaint. This opinion does not decide the case, however. The plaintiff still has the right to take the complaint to court, although the panel’s decision tends to sway the jury. There are rare times when it may appear that the panel is trying to defend a doctor against a legitimate malpractice claim. We will work with the plaintiff to ensure a fair trial in these circumstances.
SETTLEMENT OF MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CLAIMS
Medical malpractice attorneys must help victims of dental malpractice recover from the damages they have suffered. The settlement must fit the case. Since the amount of money in a settlement varies from case to case, we cannot obtain estimates until our professionals have discovered the facts.
CASES REGARDING MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS IN INDIANA
The mandated maximum for settlements varies from state to state, with some states having no maximum at all. For cases dealing with medical professionals under the State of Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Act, the money paid in damages is capped at different amounts depending on when the malpractice occurred:
- $500,000 for an act of malpractice that occurred before January 1, 1990
- $750,000 for an act of malpractice that occurred after December 31, 1989, and before July 1, 1999
- $1,250,000 for an act of malpractice that occurred after June 30, 1999, and before July 1, 2017
- $1,650,000 for an act of malpractice that occurred after June 30, 2017, and before July 1, 2019
- $1,800,000 for an act of malpractice that occurs after June 30, 2019
If you believe you have experienced dental malpractice with a medical professional in Indiana, look for a law firm familiar with the state’s regulations. Montross Miller is based in Indiana and is suited to the best possible settlement for your circumstances.
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Nate consulted with medical experts, dug in and proceeded with the civil suit. I remember him telling me several times that [my wife’s] story was compelling and was deserving of his team’s full commitment and skill. We eventually settled before trial and were thrilled with the results, we felt justice prevailed. Nate was patient, thorough and a trusted advisor to us through this. He went to bat for us with health care providers and workman’s comp people. He fights for what is right. He really cared about what happened to my husband. Now, he will be taken care of for the rest of his life. Scott did a truly amazing job for us. It was not just about the legal work; he was there for us every step of the way. From rehab, through settlement and even making sure appropriate financial arrangements were in place for the future. He went to bat for us with health care providers and workman’s comp people. He fights for what is right. He really cared about what happened to my husband. Belinda was very responsive. I am very pleased. They are great at what they do. Mike Miller and the firm were all excellent to work with and were extremely professional. We worked with Brad Kallmyer who was phenomenal. He listened well and was very thorough and professional. I give all the credit to Brad. The staff was very kind, very understanding. They made my mom feel important. Brad’s integrity and the firm came through for us. They were great. Words cannot express how tremendously grateful my husband and I are to Nate and his team during the most difficult times in our lives. He walked us through every step with the up most respect, never hesitating to answer any and all questions, or simply giving us a word of encouragement. It was a relief to know that he was always on our side, fighting for our case and believing that it was worth fighting for.
Nate consulted with medical experts, dug in and proceeded with the civil suit. I remember him telling me several times that [my wife’s] story was compelling and was deserving of his team’s full commitment and skill. We eventually settled before trial and were thrilled with the results, we felt justice prevailed. Nate was patient, thorough and a trusted advisor to us through this.
He went to bat for us with health care providers and workman’s comp people. He fights for what is right. He really cared about what happened to my husband. Now, he will be taken care of for the rest of his life.
Scott did a truly amazing job for us. It was not just about the legal work; he was there for us every step of the way. From rehab, through settlement and even making sure appropriate financial arrangements were in place for the future. He went to bat for us with health care providers and workman’s comp people. He fights for what is right. He really cared about what happened to my husband.
Belinda was very responsive. I am very pleased. They are great at what they do.
Mike Miller and the firm were all excellent to work with and were extremely professional.
We worked with Brad Kallmyer who was phenomenal. He listened well and was very thorough and professional. I give all the credit to Brad. The staff was very kind, very understanding. They made my mom feel important. Brad’s integrity and the firm came through for us. They were great.
Words cannot express how tremendously grateful my husband and I are to Nate and his team during the most difficult times in our lives. He walked us through every step with the up most respect, never hesitating to answer any and all questions, or simply giving us a word of encouragement. It was a relief to know that he was always on our side, fighting for our case and believing that it was worth fighting for.