What are my rights regarding failed crowns and for work billed for but not done?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What are my rights regarding failed crowns and for work billed for but not done?

I had my 2 anterior crowns replaced after 14 years with an initial set price of $1700 for all. While being fitted, I was told by my dentist that I needed root canals, which I questioned. He abruptly said if I didn’t then down the road I may have to and he would have to take my crowns off to do it. After prepaying $200, I came out with a bill of $2300 more. The dentist not only charged for the root canals but also for posts and buildups, which I questioned when first receiving the bill. Her answer was yes, he has it down that he did it. I still owe the dentist and he turned it over to collections. Now my crown broke off at the gum line and my tooth with it. I went to another dentist who did an X-ray and told me that I did not have post and buildup. Do I have a case to get my tooth fixed and no bill for other work that wasn’t done?

Asked on November 23, 2016 under Malpractice Law, Tennessee


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

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Dental malpractice is negligence.  Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that a reasonable dental practitioner in the community would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm).
Prior to filing a lawsuit for negligence against the dentist, it may be possible to settle the case with the dentist's malpractice insurance carrier.
Your claim filed with the malpractice insurance carrier should include your dental bills, dental reports (including reports and bills from other dentists you consulted) and documentation of wage loss.
Compensation for the dental bills is straight reimbursement.  The dental reports will document the nature and extent of your condition and will be used to determine compensation for pain and suffering which is an amount in addition to the dental bills.  Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.
If the case is settled with the dentist's malpractice insurance carrier, NO lawsuit for negligence is filed.
If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the malpractice insurance carrier, reject the settlement offers and file a lawsuit for negligence against the dentist.
If the case is NOT settled, your lawsuit for negligence against the dentist must be filed prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.
You can also sue the dentist for fraud for billing for work which was never done.  This is separate from your malpractice case. 
Fraud is intentional misrepresentation of a material fact made with knowledge of its falsity and with the intent to induce your reliance upon which you justifiably relied to your detriment.
In other words, you would not have paid for the posts and buildups had you known they were not done.
In addition to a lawsuit for fraud, you should file a complaint about this dentist with the state licensing board.
You have a case for having your tooth repaired and not being charged for work that was not done.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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