Elements of a Dental Malpractice Lawsuit

Blog submitted by Dane Levy Attorney of Dentalmal.com, a provider of legal services for those injured by dental malpractice in California

To make a successful case for dental malpractice, an injured patient and their attorney will typically need to establish the existence of a dentist-patient relationship; the appropriate medical standard of care under the circumstances, how that standard of care was breached, causing harm to the patient, and the nature and extent of the patient’s injury.

The first element, dentist-patient relationship is not hard to establish. The second element, the “medical standard of care,” means the level and kind of care that a similarly-skilled dentist in the community would have provided under the same treatment circumstances. This is established by a qualified expert medical witness who has been retained by the plaintiff’s attorney. It is usually a health care professional who has experience with the kind of procedure that is the subject of the lawsuit.

The “breach” and “causation” elements are extremely critical. A plaintiff must prove that the health care provider caused the injury or made an existing condition worse by his or her action or lack of it. In this case, testimony from a qualified expert medical witness really is critical in establishing causes of dental malpractice.

Finally, it is important to consider the seriousness of the “injury” before filing a lawsuit. If the injury is minor, then, even if it was caused by malpractice, it may not be worth the time and expense of a lawsuit.

Therefore, you must keep in mind that all these elements must be fulfilled, building up all your dental malpractice information, before filling for a lawsuit. All missing pages or unclear documentation will be problematic for the defense.