If you have suffered an injury while at the dentist, orthodontist, or oral surgeon, you may have a valid dental malpractice claim. Before filing a claim against the dentist or his or her insurance carrier, it is important to understand what you must prove in order to prevail in a dental malpractice claim.

In Washington State, RCW 7.70.040 establishes the elements that a patient has to prove against his or her dentist, oral surgeon, or orthodontist in order to prevail.

  1. The health care provider failed to exercise that degree of care, skill, and learning expected of a reasonably prudent health care provider at that time in the profession or class to which he or she belongs, in the state of Washington, acting in the same or similar circumstances;
  2. Such failure was a proximate cause of the injury complained of.

In other words, a patient has to prove that the dentist fell beneath the accepted standard of care of a dentist in Washington State and that the patient’s injuries resulted from the dentist falling beneath the standard of care.

See the case results page for a list of the dental malpractice cases The Jackman Law Firm has handled in the past, but typical injuries resulting from a dentist, orthodontist, or oral surgeon’s negligent conduct include:

  • infections,
  • removing the wrong tooth,
  • severing a nerve during a tooth extraction,
  • cuts and resulting scars from a cavity filling,
  • root canal or bridge procedures that have gone wrong, and
  • failing to diagnose a serious condition.

While the above list is the most frequently-seen examples of the kinds of harm that results from dental malpractice, this is not a complete list. By far the most common source of dental malpractice cases stem from a tooth extraction gone wrong. When a tooth extraction goes badly, infections often arise. Sometimes infections can be so serious that the patient will have to be hospitalized, and on rare occasions, the patient can even die from the ill-effects of an infection. Other ill-effects of tooth extractions gone wrong can be the severing of a nerve, typically the lingual nerve. When the lingual nerve is severed, there are often very serious damages that result, including intense pain and numbness that surgery may not be able to correct.

Regardless of how the malpractice occurs, these cases are very difficult for a patient to win. This is because dentists, like other doctors and medical professionals, are held to the standard of care of other healthcare professionals in the State of Washington. In order to prevail, the patient, typically through an attorney, must hire experts to review medical records and make opinions about a dentist’s care. This process can be quite expensive and these cases can take a considerable amount of time, effort, and skill to successfully litigate.

If you have been harmed by a dentist, orthodontist, or oral surgeon, call The Jackman Law Firm for a free consultation to determine whether you have a valid claim.