Does my wife have merit to sue her dentist if he had to do a surgical procedure to extract a tooth but cut her tongue as well and did not tell her?

UPDATED: Dec 21, 2014

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Does my wife have merit to sue her dentist if he had to do a surgical procedure to extract a tooth but cut her tongue as well and did not tell her?

His assistant is the one that let her know, and now it has been over 2 weeks and it is still not healed.

Asked on December 21, 2014 under Malpractice Law, West Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

There may be liability or grounds to hold the dentist liable since it may well be considered malpractice, or professional negligence (carelessness) to have cut her tongue and also not inform her.

However, that alone does not mean that wife has a viable legal claim or lawsuit, at least yet. In a lawsuit, you can only recover compensation for actual costs or losses, and for "pain and suffering" if there is significant life impairment or disability that last for a reasonably long time.

You do not write that your wife has seen a doctor to treat the cut; if she hasn't, there would be no medical costs to recover, and even if she has, if those costs are small (e.g. a $50 copy; $100 in antibiotics or medicine; etc) it's not worth a lawsuit.

You do not indicate that your wife has been unable to talk or function, just that her cut has not healed, and that only 2 weeks have gone by. Under those circumstances, there's no pain and suffering aware.

At present, based on what you write, you'd spend far, far more on a lawsuit than you'd recover, since for a medical malpractice suit, you need to hire  a medical expert of your own.

This could change: if the cut and any infection of it becomes very difficult to treat, and your wife incurs significant medical expenses or has to be hospitalized; if the issue goes on for weeks with an impairment of taste, eating, and/or speaking...if something like that happens, there may be a worthwhile legal case.

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