If you’ve been permanently hurt from improper dental work done on your teeth and are seeking legal help, contact the dental malpractice attorneys at Bernstein & Maryanoff in the greater Miami, Florida, area. We can determine if you have a case through a simple phone call or by filling out the free evaluation form, and we’ll contact you. We have the expertise and experience necessary to get the maximum compensation for your dental injuries.
Bringing a dental malpractice case against your dentist may seem daunting, but knowing you have rights and can seek remedy for the situation is important. In this article, we’ll discuss key points to give you answers to questions you may have if you are considering filing a dental negligence lawsuit against your dentist.
What is the average payout for dental negligence?
You might wonder if it’s financially worth it to file a lawsuit, or you don’t know how much you could recover for the personal injury caused by dental negligence. If you are hurting and suffering from the consequences of inadequate dental care and have lost time and income from work due to the injury or have tried asking for your money back from the dentist and were refused, you deserve reparation.
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Every dental malpractice case is different and has to be handled according to Florida law, so it’s hard to give an exact figure on the average payout. There are cases that have been settled in the five to six-figure range, but there are also cases that have settled for much lower. It’s not enough just to recover your initial expenses. There is much more to it than that, but it depends on the circumstances of your case. Read on to learn how this figure is determined in a court of law.
The standard of care for dental procedures
A minimum standard of care is required by dentists licensed in Florida to provide a reasonable duty of care. If a dentist breaches this standard of care through negligent actions performed on a dental patient, it becomes the basis for a legal malpractice claim.
If your dentist didn’t provide you with acceptable professional dentistry standards, it has to be shown your harm came because of negligence and substandard care. This is where Bernstein & Maryanoff dental malpractice lawyers can determine how your case fits the legal definition of standard of care.
Common dental malpractice lawsuits
There are standards of care associated with various dental procedures. Some common dental malpractice lawsuits below result from substandard care performed by incompetent dentists and/or dental personnel:
- Dental implants cases
If a dentist fails to plan a dental implant procedure adequately and removes a tooth only to place an implant at the wrong angle, it can become the basis for malpractice lawsuits. Other failures could include improper measurements, sizing, or too close to a natural tooth, impairing the need for restoration. Or simply failing to ensure there was enough bone surrounding the implant.
- Nerve damage cases
Nerve damage can result from dental injections, tooth extractions, and dental implants. Sometimes, the patient knows something isn’t right during the procedure, but often, it’s hard to tell while the oral cavity is numbed. Therefore, the nerve pain doesn’t show up until well after the numbing has worn off, and odd sensations of tingling and burning are felt long after the procedure. Failing to treat a patient who complains of nerve damage symptoms is cause for a dental malpractice lawsuit.
- Crown and bridge cases
Improperly fitted crowns can leave overhangs and open margins and fail to remove decay; seating or adjusting a crown improperly before permanent cementing can all cause issues. Improper procedural care regarding crowns and bridges is a cause for a lawsuit.
- Root canal cases
There are 15 million root canals performed annually in the United States, and common complaints to the Florida Board of Dentistry lead to dental malpractice lawsuits. There could be a failure to take X-rays not only before the root canal but also after the procedure is done. The root canal could have been under or overfilled. Perforation of the side of the root occurred. A root canal on the wrong tooth. Failure to clean the canal of the root tooth. Those are a few reasons why improper procedures were performed, leading to permanent dental injury.
- Tooth extraction cases
It would seem a relatively simple dental procedure to remove a bad tooth, but there have been cases where the wrong tooth was removed. The patient’s medical history wasn’t examined thoroughly as to current medications being taken, which increased the risk of damage. Perhaps the tooth root wasn’t entirely taken out, and a tiny portion remained, leading to infection and permanent nerve damage. All of these could be reasons to file a dental malpractice lawsuit.
- Osteomyelitis cases
Osteomyelitis is an infection in the bone. This can be a result of poorly performed oral surgery in which the infection wasn’t recognized, appropriately treated, and worsened, causing lifelong disability and even death in some cases.
Common injuries from dental malpractice
Other injuries occurring due to dental malpractice are:
- Jaw injuries and overall structural damage to the mouth
- Failure to detect oral cancer or an oral disease
- A sepsis infection
- Trauma to a healthy tooth
- Nerve damage from wisdom tooth removal or root canal
Consulting a dental malpractice attorney specializing in dental malpractice claims can help you get the justice you deserve and the maximum compensation to cover your losses. Get in touch with us right away so we can help with the specifics of your claim.
Is there a difference between dental malpractice and dental negligence?
In all medical malpractice cases, there is a distinct difference between what is defined as malpractice and negligence and how the law applies it to legal claims.
In a dental negligence claim, a duty of care is owed to the patient. This duty of care is based on professional skills and ethics regulated by a state dental board. All practitioners must abide by the laws, rules, and regulations equally established for all who obtain a dental license. Not all dentists who are negligent cause harm.
Meanwhile, dental malpractice involves harm coming to a patient due to negligence. The defined harm can be temporary or permanent. In such a case, the patient can sue their dentist or orthodontist for malpractice. It can vary in understanding and be a complicated situation, but that is one area of our legal practice that we specialize in. We can explain things to you in an understandable way so you feel comfortable knowing the processes involved in dental negligence cases.
What damages are available for those who have experienced dental negligence?
Damages is the legal term used to describe a sum of money a person is entitled to after another person (or persons or entity) causes harm through a breach of duty. In Florida, a person who has suffered dental malpractice can be awarded two types of damages:
These monetary amounts can be calculated through invoices, bills, receipts, bank accounts, etc., demonstrating how much a person has already paid:
- Medical bills from hospitals, doctors, clinics, and pharmacies
- Dental repair or reconstruction expenses needed to fix the damage
- Lost wages due to taking time off from work for medical appointments and recovery
- Lost earning capacity is calculated based on whether the victim loses out on a promotion or other work-related earning capacity
- Costs of ongoing or long-term care required for physical or occupational therapy
- Out-of-pocket expenses incurred by the victim for transportation, assistive devices, and other miscellaneous expenses necessitated from the dental work
These amounts are more subjective in terms of pain and suffering. Conditions of emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, and loss of consortium are looked at, and amounts are awarded based on severity and cap limits.
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How to determine damages from dental negligence
Critical factors which are used to determine damages from dental medical negligence are as follows:
The severity of the injury
Injuries that are severe or have a long-lasting impact on the victim’s quality of life usually require more medical care and treatment. Thus, higher settlement amounts are awarded to compensate for the extended lifelong care.
Generally, the higher the amount the victim has expended, the higher the settlement to match.
As mentioned, the court will determine the quality of life for the victim and family members.
The severity of the dentist’s negligence
The court will determine the severity of the dental practitioner and/or related dental personnel as to how incorrect mistakes were made and the ethical breach of the standard of care. The more egregiousness is found in the overall claim, the higher the settlement award. In rare cases, punitive damages have also been awarded. It’s possible that the more complex your case is, the more you stand to receive higher monetary compensation. We seek to provide fair and legal advice and apply the law fairly to anyone who hires us to file a dental malpractice claim.
Limits on damages in dental negligence cases
Florida’s Supreme Court recently changed the caps or limits a person could receive due to medical malpractice. Florida Statute 766.118 used to state, “Non-economic damages shall not exceed $500,000 per claimant. No practitioner shall be liable for more than $500,000 in non-economic damages, regardless of the number of claimants.” However, the FL Supreme Court determined it violated the equal protection law in the Florida Constitution. For example, if a person died leaving only a surviving spouse, yet in another case, a person dies leaving not only a surviving spouse but four children, it was stated the less likely they would be fully compensated for their losses. Thus, the cap was removed.
It can be complicated to determine what the average payouts for medical malpractice suits can now be, which is why it’s best to contact a law firm that keeps up with all the legal changes and knows how to apply the law in your case. We always aim to reach the highest compensation allowed for our clients.
Contact Bernstein & Maryanoff injury dental malpractice lawyers today
We hope you’ve learned valuable information on how to recover from improper dental work performed on your teeth by bringing forth a dental malpractice lawsuit. We are on your side in a personal injury case involving damage to your oral health. We know how frustrating and painful it can be to suffer through dental damage done wrongly to you. We stand ready to help you win a dental negligence case. Contact us today.
About the Author
Jack G. Bernstein, ESQ.
Jack Bernstein is a hard-working and highly motivated personal injury attorney in Miami, Florida with over three decades of experience. He is a strategist and idea person, with a genuine passion for helping his firm’s clients. If you’ve been injured, contact Jack Bernstein today for a free evaluation of your case.