If a dentist left a piece of their tool in my mouth but didn’t tell me, can I sue them even though it’s been almost 10 years?

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If a dentist left a piece of their tool in my mouth but didn’t tell me, can I sue them even though it’s been almost 10 years?

About 10 years ago, I had a root canal and the dentist left gauge and a piece of a file in my mouth and didn’t tell me about it. Since it happened, I have had numerous infections and have been put on antibiotics numerous times. These infections have made me extremely sick and have worsened my anxiety and PTSD. I only recently found out the the gauge and file were left in my mouth and now I have to have oral surgery to remove my tooth and to get rid of the infection. I also had to have sinus surgery in 2016, the side of my face where my tooth infection has been festering for a decade is the side of my face where my sinuses where the worst so I’m pretty sure my sinus surgery was related to my tooth both my ENT and Endodontist have told me that tooth infections and sinus problems are related. Even though the dentist performed my root canal 10 years ago, I didn’t know there was any malpractice until recently when another dentist found the gauge and file and told me about it. Is there any way I could sue the dentist for my medical bills and pain and suffering?

Asked on March 15, 2018 under Malpractice Law, New Mexico

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

There is something in the law called the "statute of limitations". This is the time period in which a lawsuit can be brought. The reason for this is that it is felt that ageter a certain number of years, witnesses, evidence, etc. can be lost or otherwise compromised. Unfortunately, 10 years is past the SOL in your state; the SOL there for such a case is 3 years.

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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, it is too late to file your lawsuit because New Mexico has a three year statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit in a medical malpractice case.  This means that your lawsuit had to be filed prior to the third anniversary of the date the malpractice occurred.  In New Mexico, no healthcare provider can be sued more than three years after the act of malpractice occurred. Your lawsuit is barred by the statute of limitations.


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