Dental Malpractice Attorney Miami
When being treated by a dentist, it's reasonable to expect to be properly cared for and to emerge in better shape. Unfortunately, things don't always work out that way. If you have been injured at the hands of a dentist, protect your rights by retaining a skilled dental malpractice attorney Miami. Attempting to deal with the situation yourself won't get you anywhere, as the vast majority of dental malpractice insurance policies include "right to refuse settlement" clauses. Simply put, it is exceedingly rare for a dentist to settle regarding such matters, which is all the more reason to hire a skilled dental malpractice attorney Miami.
Can a Dentist Be Sued for Malpractice?
Like doctors, dentists can be sued for medical malpractice. Doing so requires the assistance of an experienced dental malpractice attorney Miami, and your case must meet certain criteria.
Before consulting Miami injury lawyers regarding your situation, consider whether your potential case meets the following criteria:
- Existence of Duty - It is a dentist's duty to adhere to a certain standard of care. What this means is a dentist is expected to administer care at the same level at which any normal dentist would. In your situation, did your dentist perform in a way that was at odds with how another dentist dealing with the same or similar circumstances would perform, or did they perform in a way in which any reasonable dentist would? This point isn't always black and white--especially to someone who isn't a medical or dental professional--which is why it pays to have a dental malpractice attorney review the situation.
- Breach of Duty - Did your dentist breach his or her duty to adhere to the standard of care in your situation? In other words, did they act in a way that was clinically acceptable or recommended under the circumstances? If the injury you sustained occurred due to unforeseen circumstances, there was likely no breach of duty. Similarly, just because your results were unsuccessful or unfortunate doesn't mean a breach of duty occurred. The issue is demonstrating that those results happened precisely because your dentist performed in a way that was blatantly negligent or that just didn't make sense given the circumstances.
- Causation - This is perhaps the crux of the issue when it comes to any dental malpractice scenario, and it can typically be determined by answering the following question: Would your injury have occurred without your dentist's actions? For example, if the same thing would have likely happened under the care of another dentist, or if it would have happened without any intervention at all, no direct causation exists. If your injury wouldn't have occurred if not for the dentist's actions, however, you can safely say causation does exist.
- Damages - Finally, you must show that you suffered damages due to your dentist's breach of duty. Damages may be physical; perhaps a tooth was broken. They may be financial; for example, maybe you had to spend money to correct the mistake. They may also be non-economic. For instance, the resulting injury or disfigurement may have damaged your self-esteem and self-confidence in a way that's negatively impacting your life.
Dental Malpractice Attorney Miami and Malpractice in Dentistry
Malpractice in dentistry occurs all over the world, including in Miami. If you have suffered injuries due to dental malpractice from a Miami dentist, protect your rights and seek the compensation to which you are entitled by retaining a skilled and experienced dental malpractice attorney Miami.
Dental Malpractice Cases
Dental malpractice cases span a variety of circumstances. The primary way in which they vary concerns the damages involved. A few examples include:
- Injuries Related to Surgical Errors: Injuries resulting from surgical errors are often also attributed to improper performance. Approximately 45 percent of all dental malpractice claims fall into this category. Surgical errors may result in injuries like fractured jaws, missing teeth, nerve damage or facial scarring. Proving that such damages exist tends to be quite easy, which is largely why these types of lawsuits tend to be the most prevalent.
- Injuries Related to Misdiagnoses or Failure to Diagnose: Due to the standard of care to which they are expected to adhere, a dentist is expected to recognize various ailments and to diagnose them accordingly. For example, if you visit a dentist for a routine cleaning and exam and periodontal disease is present, the dentist should recognize it, diagnose it and treat it. Failure to do so could result in a more serious issue like a lost tooth. Had the dentist adhered to the standard of care and made the proper diagnosis, you would almost certainly still have that tooth. Another example is when a dentist fails to diagnose-or misdiagnoses-a case of oral cancer. In this case, of course, the consequences can be direr still. The earlier cancer is diagnosed, the likelier it is to be effectively treated.
- Injuries Related to Anesthesia: Many dental malpractice cases involve injuries that are caused by the improper use of anesthesia. General anesthesia poses serious risks even for healthy individuals, so it should be used sparingly. Whenever possible, patients should be offered local anesthesia. Talented dentists often let their patients choose. However, if general anesthesia is used when general anesthesia would have sufficed, and something goes wrong, a patient may have a valid basis to file a dental malpractice lawsuit. Also, if anesthesia is improperly administered, which is another example of a breach of duty, preventable injury or even death may occur.
- Injuries Related to Dental Procedures: This situation also falls back to improper performance. For example, a dentist is expected to ensure that a patient is medically fit to undergo a specific procedure. If a patient doesn't have enough healthy bone to accommodate dental implants, and they are placed anyway, injury may occur. The implant may also fall out, leaving the patient with a huge bill and no implant.
- Injuries Related to Improper Licensing or Patient Consent Issues: Finally, dentists are expected to obtain informed consent from patients before performing certain procedures. A classic example of a breach of this is a dentist extracting a tooth without informing the patient beforehand. Also, a dentist should only perform procedures for which they are properly licensed and qualified to perform. If it can be proven later that a patient was injured while undergoing a procedure that the dentist wasn't qualified to perform, a clear breach of duty exists and a dental malpractice lawsuit is warranted.
Dental Malpractice Claims
Before retaining a Miami injury lawyer to pursue a dental malpractice claim, make sure you know what you are potentially in for. If you are confident you have a valid case, a dental malpractice attorney Miami should be able to confirm this with relative ease.
Damages Caused by Dental Negligence
Consider the nature of your damages before enlisting the assistant of a Miami injury lawyer. Just because you have been injured doesn't mean you have a strong lawsuit. If you recovered quickly from your injury and suffered no long-term side effects, a lawyer is unlikely to take your case.
Gathering Documentation for a Dental Malpractice Lawsuit
You are more likely to win your lawsuit if you have ample amounts of strong evidence. First, then, demand full and complete copies of your dental records. Your attorney may also do this on your behalf. Most dental malpractice attorneys enlist the help of specialists who can assess plaintiffs' injuries, study their records and otherwise determine whether or not their damages warrant bringing a lawsuit.
Dental Malpractice Lawsuit Settlements
You'd be hard-pressed to find a dentist who will willingly admit culpability in the case of dental malpractice because doing so could damage their business or otherwise adversely affect their livelihood. For this very reason, most dentists have dental malpractice insurance policies that include "right to refuse settlement clauses." This means their insurance still protects them even if they choose to refuse a settlement, which they generally do.
Dental Negligence Compensation
According to the American Board of Legal Medicine, 13.1 percent of all medical malpractice claims are brought against dentists. In terms of the amount of compensation you can expect in your case, that varies enormously depending on a variety of factors. In addition to potentially being reimbursed for the medical expenses resulting from your injury, you may seek compensation for your pain and suffering, lost wages, diminished quality of life, future medical bills and more. Further, your spouse may also be able to bring a lawsuit to seek compensation for "loss of consortium."
Dental Malpractice Statute of Limitations
In the state of Florida, there is a two-year statute of limitations for cases of medical malpractice, including dental malpractice. It may be extended to four years if it also involves fraud, conspiracy or misrepresentation.
Retain a Dental Malpractice Attorney Miami to Handle Your Case
If you believe your situation warrants bringing a dental malpractice lawsuit against your dentist, our Miami injury lawyers can help. We will assess and investigate the circumstances surrounding your case to determine whether it makes sense to bring a lawsuit in the first place. From there, we will gather the evidence that is needed to help you seek the maximum compensation for the injuries you sustained due to your dentist's negligence. Remember too that bringing such a lawsuit isn't just a way to obtain compensation for your injury, pain and suffering. It's also a way to hold these medical professionals accountable and to hopefully prevent additional cases in the future.