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


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.

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.