How best shouldI handle 2 potential dental malpractice claims?

UPDATED: Mar 31, 2011

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How best shouldI handle 2 potential dental malpractice claims?

It was found by my current dentist that I have a dead tooth resulting from the actions of my previous orthodontist. On contacting the orthodontist, he seemed to be willing to compensate me out of court but only very minimally. The tooth has cracks in it and will require $2000 to root canal and cap it; should that fail I would require an implant costing $3000. I was under the orthodontist’s care a few years ago, are there any time limits to compensation for things like this? He wants a full agreement not to pursue any other issues once paid. Should I settle out of court or not? Also, there is potentially some dental cement debris that can be linked to my orthodontist before the last. The orthodontist who was responsible for my dead tooth bought the business from the 1 responsible for these debris, so I am not sure of the liabilities involved. This case would require flap surgery which could be $1500-3000. Additionally, this has caused other systemic issues (nasal polyps) for years. As a consequence my nasal bones became deformed and will require septoplasty and rhinoplasty to repair, costing upwards of $8000. Who is liable for this in court and how does this work into my prior case? Should I settle out of court for this one? How do I make the prior agreement keep this issue legally available should I try and take it to court? Should I speak with a malpractice attorney? In Naples, FL.

Asked on March 31, 2011 under Malpractice Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Altogether, you are talking about over $10k of possible liability; it would be worthwile speaking with a medical malpractice attorney. Some general guidance for you:

1) In terms of how long you'd have to bring the suit, the statute of limitations (or SOL) in FL for medical malpractice (which includes dental) is usually only 2 years from the time of the injury; sometimes, this can be extended if it did take (or reasonable would take) the patient additional time to discover the injury (not all medical hurts are immediately obvious), and this is clearly something to discuss with your lawyer.

2) As for the prior othodontist, the one who bought the business *may* be liable--it depends on the terms and conditions of the purchase. Did he buy the practice (e.g. a professional corporaton), or just buy patient files? In the form case, the purchaser may well be liable, but very possibly not in the latter case. It matters how the deal was structured.

If it looks like the SOL might block you from suing, you may be well off taking whatever is offered.

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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