Maryland Court Discusses Evidence Needed to Establish Dental Malpractice

Dentists, like all healthcare providers, have an obligation under Maryland law to abide by the standard of care imposed on their profession. If they deviate from the standard of care and cause a patient to suffer harm, they can be found liable for any damages that arise out of their negligence.  In order to recover compensation in a dental malpractice lawsuit, though, a plaintiff must adequately demonstrate fault and damages, as discussed in a recent Maryland ruling. If you suffered injuries due to dental malpractice, it is wise to confer with a Maryland dental malpractice lawyer about what damages you may be owed.

The Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff filed a dental malpractice lawsuit against the defendant dentist, alleging that he improperly extracted all four of her wisdom teeth, causing permanent numbness and pain in her mouth and tongue area. Specifically, she alleged that during the removal of two of the teeth, the defendant failed to take the proper precautions required by the standard of care and caused severe injuries to her lingual nerves.

Allegedly, the plaintiff also asserted additional claims relating to a breach of the post-operative standard of care and lack of informed consent for the surgery. The defendant filed a motion for partial summary judgment seeking to dismiss the claim for dental malpractice regarding the alleged trauma to the plaintiff’s nerves.

Establishing Dental Malpractice

In Maryland, to establish a prima facie case of dental malpractice, the plaintiff must show that the defendant failed to exercise the requisite skill or care and that this failure caused the plaintiff’s injuries. In other words, the plaintiff must prove three elements: the applicable standard of care, a violation of that standard, and a causal link between the violation and the harm suffered. Expert witness testimony is typically required to establish the standard of care.

In the subject case, the plaintiff relied on the expert testimony of an oral surgeon to establish the standard of care for dental malpractice. The court found, however, that after reviewing his testimony, it was clear that the plaintiff failed to establish the breach of care and causation elements of dental malpractice. Specifically, her expert neglected to set forth any facts indicating a breach of the standard or that plaintiff’s alleged harm was caused by the defendant’s acts or omissions. Thus, the court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment with regard to the plaintiff’s dental malpractice claims.

Speak with a Trusted Maryland Attorney

Patients expect their dentists to protect their oral health, but careless mistakes made by dentists can cause painful injuries and may be grounds for pursuing dental malpractice claims. If you were hurt by the negligence of a dentist, it is smart to speak with a lawyer about your potential claims. The trusted Maryland attorneys of Arfaa Law Group can advise you of your rights and aid you in seeking any damages recoverable under the law. You can contact us by calling us at (410) 889-1850 or using our form online to set up a conference.

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