CanI sue my dentist for not fixing my teeth properly?

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CanI sue my dentist for not fixing my teeth properly?

My dentist fixed the gap between my front teeth with porcelain veneers. A year later the gap started to come back. Now the gap is worse than before I went to the dentist.

Asked on July 16, 2011 under Malpractice Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

It would be advisable to obtain a second opinion from another dentist, who would review your treatment and dental records in order to determine whether or not you have a case for malpractice.

In order to prove malpractice, you will need to prove negligence on the part of the dentist.  Negligence is based on the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that in this case a reasonable dentist in the same community would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable injury).

If you are able to establish negligence based on the second dentist's opinion, it may be possible to settle the case with the first dentist's malpractice insurance carrier.  Your claim will consist of your dental bills, dental reports, and documentation of any wage loss.  Compensation for the dental bills is straight reimbursement.  Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.  The dental records will document the nature and extent of your condition and will be used to determine the amount of compensation you receive for pain and suffering.  Compensation for pain and suffering is an amount in addition to the dental bills. 

If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the insurance company, reject those offers and file your lawsuit for negligence against the dentist.  You will need to file your lawsuit for negligence prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.

In order to prove negligence, you will need to prove duty of care (discussed above), breach of duty, actual cause, proximate cause and damages.  Breach of duty is the failure to exercise due care.  Actual cause means but for the dental treatment, would the gap in your front teeth have returned?  If the answer is no, you have established actual cause.  Proximate cause means were there any unforeseeable intervening events which would relieve the dentist of liability?  If the answer is no, you have established proximate cause.  Damages refers to the compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit (medical bills, pain and suffering, etc.) discussed above.


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