How Long Does a Dental Negligence Claim Take?
Dental professionals must provide competent care, just like other medical providers. As many patients soon find out, however, many dentists are careless in how they treat patients. They make avoidable errors due to their failure to provide quality care, and patients experience agonizing pain and embarrassment as a result. But when it goes wrong how long does a dental negligence claim take?
At Surasky Law, our personal injury attorney has deep experience in all negligence actions, including dental negligence. This is a unique type of malpractice case to bring, and not all Aiken, SC personal injury lawyers can help. Please contact us right away if you think you might have a case.
Overview of Dental Negligence Process
Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care under the circumstances, which leads to an avoidable injury. Some of the more common dental negligence claims relate to:
Failure to diagnose gum disease
Botched root canal
Poorly fitted crown or bridge
Wrong tooth extraction
Poorly fitted braces
Failure to obtain informed consent
Infections due to improper sterilization
Every case begins by requesting your dental records. We then review your history of treatment and possibly employ an expert to assist. This expert is usually a dentist who has substantial experience in the field. Our experts can review the care you received and identify any mistakes your dentist made. An expert can also highlight the steps a careful dentist would have taken.
Next, we might have you meet with a dentist to help us better understand what went wrong. This isn’t always necessary, but it often helps us gain better insight into your injuries.
We then draft a demand letter, which we send to the dentist and their insurer. This letter outlines the dental negligence and explains your injuries. You might have already received corrective dental care, or you might obtain it in the future. We also discuss any time it forced you to miss from work, as well as your pain levels.
The defendant has a chance to admit liability or fight it. If they admit liability, focus moves to properly valuing your damages:
Past loss—these are things like past medical treatment and lost income or wages.
Future dental treatment—you might need corrective dental treatment or even psychological counseling to deal with substandard dental care. We can estimate a reasonable amount of money to cover these costs.
Pain and suffering—this category covers physical pain, emotional distress, and inconvenience suffered as a result of dental negligence. Someone with a botched root canal could suffer extreme pain. Mistakes which lead to tooth loss can cause embarrassment.
Unsurprisingly, defendants want to pay as little as possible, even when they admit liability. Therefore, we expect some disagreement about what constitutes a fair settlement.
If the dentist accepts responsibility, then we can negotiate a settlement regarding our client’s losses. From start to finish, the settlement process can take up to a year. Unfortunately, dentists and their insurers do not eagerly offer fair compensation. They make an injured victim work for it. This back-and-forth is what delays reaching settlement.
In some situations, a defendant might be eager to settle, which means we can obtain compensation in under a year. But this is rare.
Dental Negligence Lawsuits
Defendants don’t always admit liability. In fact, they might deny that they did anything wrong or that they provided substandard care. In these cases, we might actually have to file a lawsuit in court. A South Carolina jury will need to decide whether the defendant is liable for dental negligence.
Lawsuits take a long time to complete. In fact, you might need to wait two years before your case ever reaches a jury. Even then, an appeal could drag out the final resolution of the case for another year.
Why do lawsuits take so long? One reason is that the courts are overloaded with cases. Judges have too many legal disputes on their docket, and you will need to wait for an opening before the court will schedule your trial. This type of delay takes a toll on my dental negligence victims—who need compensation now.
For these reasons, you may want to settle a dental negligence case. This might mean settling for slightly less in compensation than you could otherwise get if you go to court. At the same time, you do receive some money much faster.
How to Speed Up the Process
At Surasky Law, we work closely with dental negligence victims. Our goal is to get fair compensation in a timely manner. There are steps you can take to expedite the claims process, which we review below:
1. Provide your attorney with all requested documents as soon as possible. We might request receipts for prescription drugs or insurance information. The sooner we receive this information, the better we can advocate for you.
2. Seek timely medical care. We might have you meet with a dentist to inspect the condition of your mouth. Try to attend appointments and avoid rescheduling.
3. Document your lost income. If you are self-employed, we will probably need to see bank ledgers or cash flow statements. If you are a W-2 employee, then get recent pay stubs that show your current wage.
4. Discuss possible compensation with your legal team. Your lawyer needs to know how much compensation you are willing to settle for. Ultimately, you decide whether to settle, not your lawyer. But we benefit by having a number to shoot for.
5. Ask any questions in a timely manner. If you have concerns, we can address them as soon as they arise. If you raise concerns later, you could delay the negotiation process.
Contact Surasky Law to Discuss How Long Does a Dental Negligence Claim Take
Our law firm can shepherd your case through the complex medical malpractice process in South Carolina. Anyone without a lawyer will soon feel overwhelmed, and some mistakes are hard to correct. Dentists and their insurance firms are eager to see an injured victim who doesn’t have legal counsel. Call our personal injury attorney today to schedule your no-risk consultation.