How much should I ask for in a dental malpractice case?

UPDATED: Jul 13, 2011

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How much should I ask for in a dental malpractice case?

I had orthodontics done at a dentist. After over 4 years of treatment and about 3 long years of back and neck pain it was discovered by another dentist that the orthodontist did a really bad job. I was told I had severe TMJ disorder and that is why I was in so much pain as well as why my neck and back muscles were so tight. I had to have a TMJ de-programmer made at a cost of over $1,800. I was also told to complete the treatment I’d need to either have a jaw surgeon reset my jaw and then do orthodontics all over again, or have my teeth filed and have 16 crowns placed to at a cost of $36,000. Should I speak with a malpractice attorney?

Asked on July 13, 2011 under Malpractice Law, California


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

It would be advisable to speak with a medical malpractice attorney.

There isn't any mathematical formula for determining the amount of your compensation.  You should obtain the medical bills and medical reports.  The medical (dental) reports will document the nature and extent of your injuries and will be used to determine compensation for pain and suffering.  Compensation for pain and suffering is an amount in addition to the medical(dental) bills.  Compensation for the medical (dental) bills is straight reimbursement.  Compensation for documented wage loss is straight reimbursement.

Prior to filing a lawsuit, file your personal injury claim, consisting of the medical (dental) bills, medical (dental) reports and documentation of wage loss, with the dentist's insurance carrier.  If the case can be settled with the insurance carrier prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations, no lawsuit is filed.  If the case is not settled, you will need to file your lawsuit for negligence against the dentist prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.

When filing your claim with the dentist's insurance carrier, I would ask for quadruple the medical (dental) bills to compensate for pain and suffering, but not expecting to get that.  This would be a starting point in negotiations.  The insurance company will respond with a lower offer and you can continue negotiations.  If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the insurance carrier, file your lawsuit for negligence against the dentist.  Any settlement should be sufficient to compensate you for the estimated cost of future treatment because once the case is settled, you won't be able to obtain additional compensation.  Again, your lawsuit must be filed 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 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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