Most legal actions for dental malpractice arise as a result of a dentist’s failure to follow the standard of care that he or she owed to a patient. This can happen when a dentist misses a diagnosis, causes an injury during a procedure due to negligence, or fails to warn a patient of the risks of a certain surgery or treatment. An act of dental malpractice can also arise when a dentist performs an unnecessary treatment on a patient. If you or a loved one has been the victim of negligence while being treated by a dentist, hygienist, or other dental office employee, talking to a Rockland County dental malpractice lawyer can help you understand your legal rights, including the right to pursue fair compensation for what you have been through. At the Law Offices of Valerie J. Crown, Attorney at Law, P.C., we are experienced in handling dental negligence cases, including those arising from unnecessary dental treatment, and we will be glad to talk to you about your case.
A dentist may perform “unnecessary treatment” by treating the wrong tooth (for example, putting a crown on a healthy tooth instead of on the problematic tooth next to it). However, the term more appropriately refers to a dentist’s act of recommending treatments that are completely unnecessary for any of a patient’s teeth. For instance, the dentist may recommend that a “cavity” be filled when, in fact, no cavity actually exists. The dentist might also perform more advanced treatments, including a crown, a root canal, or an extraction, on a tooth that did not need any work at all.Understanding Dental Malpractice Law in New York
Just like in medical malpractice cases, the plaintiff, in a dental malpractice lawsuit, has the burden of proving the defendant dentist owed him or her a particular duty (called the “standard of care”) and that a breach of this duty was a substantial factor in causing damages suffered by the plaintiff. In most cases, the plaintiff’s attorney must hire an expert witness (typically, another dentist) who can review the client’s dental records, determine if the standard of care was violated, and testify in court as to the defendant’s breach of duty and the resulting harm to the plaintiff. Although the plaintiff does not have to prove his or her case “beyond a reasonable doubt” (that standard applies only in criminal cases), there must be proof that is sufficient to convince the jury by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning that it has to be more likely than not that negligence occurred.
If the plaintiff is successful at trial, he or she may be entitled to money damages for past and future dental and/or medical expenses, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. It is up to the jury to decide the exact amount to which the plaintiff is entitled, although the judge of the trial court may also be called upon to decide whether the jury’s verdict was reasonable under the circumstances.Rockland County Attorneys Helping Victims of Dental Negligence
The most important step in a dental malpractice suit is to get started promptly, and an experienced dental malpractice lawyer can help. Because of deadlines, such as the statute of limitations and statute of repose, an injured patient’s claim can be dismissed if it is not filed within a certain time period. Additionally, there are many procedural hurdles that must be overcome before a dental malpractice lawsuit can be successful, so it is important to get the earliest start possible. If you are ready to discuss your unnecessary treatment claim with a seasoned professional malpractice lawyer, call the Law Firm of Valerie J. Crown, Attorney at Law, P.C., at 845-708-5900, call Valerie’s cell phone 24/7 at 845-598-8253, or contact us online. We serve clients in Rockland County, as well as in Westchester, Dutchess, Ulster, and Orange Counties, and throughout the Greater New York area. There is no charge for the consultation. Most cases are accepted on a contingency fee contract so legal fees are only paid when your case is settled or results in a favorable judgment.