What to do if a dental assistant informed me that if I got one of my teeth pulled I would subsequently need to have 3 more pulled but it wasn’t true?

She stated that if I didn’t then the tooth on the upper jaw would grow down and with no tooth on the bottom it would cause more problems. This is what she said the dentist told her and that I would need a root canal. I agreed to the root canal only to find out later that her statements were false and I’m stuck with almost $5000 in dental bills that could have been avoided with a $100 extraction. Do I have grounds for a legal case?

Asked on February 2, 2013 under Malpractice Law, Illinois

Answers:

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

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

Medical or dental malpractice is negligence.  Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that a reasonable medical or dental practitioner in the community would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm).

With regard to the dental assistant, the dentist is liable for the negligence of the dental assistant because an employer is liable for the negligence of an employee which occurs during the course and scope of employment.

The dentist is also liable for negligence for performing an unnecessary procedure (the root canal).  It would be advisable to obtain your dental records and have them reviewed by another dentist and also to be examined by that other dentist so that the second dentist can write a report supporting your claim for malpractice.

Prior to filing a lawsuit for negligence against the first dentist, it may be possible to settle the case with the dentist's malpractice insurance carrier.

Your claim filed with the dentist's malpractice insurance carrier should include your dental bills, dental reports, and if applicable, documentation of any wage loss.  Compensation for the dental bills is straight reimbursement.  The dental reports will document the nature and extent of your condition and treatment, 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 first dentist's malpractice insurance carrier, NO lawsuit is filed.  If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the first dentist's malpractice insurance carrier, reject the settlement offers and file a lawsuit for negligence against the first dentist.

If the case is NOT settled with the first dentist's malpractice insurance carrier, you must file your lawsuit for negligence against the first dentist prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.


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