Charlottesville Dental Malpractice Attorney
Many people do not equate dentists with malpractice claims. That’s mostly because dental diagnosis questions are always evidence based and often rather straightforward. Yet dental malpractice claims account for about one-seventh of all medical malpractice claims in Charlottesville. Substance abuse, which is a significant problem among dentists, often contributes to dental malpractice issues. A dental error can lead to serious consequences, including extreme pain and suffering.
The experienced dental malpractice attorneys at MichieHamlett know what it takes to obtain maximum compensation. We begin every case with a conversation. We meet with you, answer all your questions, evaluate your case, and lay out your legal options. Next, we diligently collect evidence which supports your claims. Finally, we stand up for your legal and financial rights, both in court and during pretrial settlement negotiation sessions.
Nuts and Bolts of a Dental Malpractice Claim
Dental malpractice is a form of professional negligence. Essentially, negligence is a lack of care. Common situations include poorly performed dental work which causes injury, failure to properly identify and treat a dangerous or degenerative condition, delayed diagnosis, and intentional misconduct.
Frequently, intentional dentist misconduct is legally an assault. The same thing could be true if the dentist fails to obtain informed consent for all procedures performed. These issues are unfortunately rather common. Frequently, dentists obtain consent for a certain procedure, and in the midst of performing it, they discover an additional problem. Instead of obtaining consent, they work beyond the scope of consent.
There are many kinds of dental injuries in Virginia. Some of the more common ones in Charlottesville include:
- Anesthesia issues,
- Nerve injuries,
- Broken jaws,
- Extreme loss of sensation,
- Improperly using tools,
- TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) problems,
- Serious complications, and
- Unnecessary extractions.
Simple dissatisfaction with the outcome usually does not support a successful dental malpractice case in Charlottesville. Additionally, a dental mistake might not be sufficient. Instead, these victim/plaintiffs must prove the dentist’s conduct fell below the standard of care or the dentist intentionally harmed the patient during a procedure.
Insurance Company Defenses
Most patients sign consent forms which go into excruciating detail about all the possible consequences and side-effects. As a result, the assumption of the risk defense is one of the most common dental malpractice defenses. This defense applies if the victim:
- Voluntarily assumed
- A known risk.
Most patients voluntarily sign treatment consent and other forms. However, dentists occasionally withhold important information or the patient has some legal competency issues.
The bigger problem with the assumption of the risk defense is the second bullet. The presence of a disclaimer is not enough. The insurance company must prove that the victim saw the disclaimer, could read it, and could understand what it meant. Any one of these things could be difficult to prove in certain circumstances.
Comparative fault is another common defense. It often comes up in a botched dental work claim. Some patients do not follow instructions about how to clean dental prosthetics or how to eat while wearing them.
Virginia is among a handful of pure contributory negligence states. If the victim is even 1 percent responsible for damages, no compensation is available.
Connect with a Dedicated Attorney
A slight dental error could cause a serious injury. For a free consultation with an experienced dental malpractice lawyer in Charlottesville, contact MichieHamlett. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these cases.