Can I sue my dentist for injury after surgery? 34 Answers as of July 08, 2013

On Thursday morning I went in to have my teeth whitened at my dental clinic using the Zoom whitening method. This technology involves covering the gums with a protective gel then the teeth is covered with peroxide then light is shined on the teeth to whiten them. After the hour long operation, my lips were burnt, whitened, and swollen. It's now Saturday morning and it's still swollen, more painful, and starting to peel. The only thing I got from the dental office is my money back and an apology. They claimed my lips overreacted to the procedure but I think it's negligence (how else did the whitening gel got on my lips when they're supposed to be covered?). Do I have a case? I have pictures. The operation was not performed by a dentist but by her assistant.

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The Law Office of Josh Lamborn, P.C.
The Law Office of Josh Lamborn, P.C. | Josh Lamborn
You can sue the dentist, and you likely have a decent case. You will have to show that the dentist's negligence in applying the whitener caused your damages. Picture are very helpful in an injury case. The fact that it was the dental assistant is not a problem as long as she was an employee of the dentist, the dentist is vicariously liable for the assistant's negligent acts.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 8/15/2011
David Hoines Law
David Hoines Law | David Hoines
yes, but the real question is the extent of harmif you heal, the value is minimal
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 8/13/2011
Timothy Jones, Attorney at Law
Timothy Jones, Attorney at Law | Timothy Jones
It sounds like you do. You certainly a have claim which should be investigated. A review of your dental records will shed light on what happened.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 8/9/2011
Link & Smith, P.C.
Link & Smith, P.C. | Houston Smith
Any case against a medical professional in Georgia is a serious undertaking that requires tens of thousands of dollars in expenses. Most lawyers will not take a case unless the likely outcome is a substantial verdict, meaning one in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Also, to bring suit against a medical professional, O.C.G.A. Sec. 9-11-9.1 requires that the Plaintiff file an Affidavit of an expert attesting to at least one negligent act. In many situations, a poor outcome does not indicate negligence or malpractice. Unless a dentist tells you that your dentist was negligent, and is willing to sign an affidavit to that point which will be filed in Court, you cannot bring a claim against your dentist.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 8/9/2011
Cody and Gonillo, LLP
Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
It sounds like you do; you should consult with an attorney in your area.
Answer Applies to: Connecticut
Replied: 8/9/2011
    ROWE LAW FIRM | Jeffrey S. Wittenbrink
    I believe you may have a case based upon the facts as you have described them, but in a dental malpractice case, only another local expert may be able to determine whether or not the dentist will have breached the standard of care. You will need to personally visit with an attorney, who can have an expert review your case to see if a malpractice claim is truly viable.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 8/9/2011
    David F. Stoddard
    David F. Stoddard | David F. Stoddard
    If your injury resolves with no permanent damage, your case is probably not worth bringing. It will cost more to bring the case to court than your likely to get from a jury. If there is permanent impairment, you might have a case. As you said "I think its negligence". You need a dental expert to review what happened and give you an opinion as to whether there was negligence. In any medical or dental malpractice case, you have to have that, no matter how much it appears to be negligence to you.
    Answer Applies to: South Carolina
    Replied: 8/9/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    We recommend that you consult with an attorney about all the facts, and your rights and options, along with the costs of such a case. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/9/2011
    Patrick M Lamar Attorney
    Patrick M Lamar Attorney | Patrick M Lamar
    You would have to prove this is not a known risk of the procedure. I would consult a lawyer locally.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 8/9/2011
    Barry Rabovsky & Associates
    Barry Rabovsky & Associates | Barry Rabovsky
    We would be happy to provide you with a free consultation if you call my office at either of the numbers listed below. If my office accepts your case, there is no fee charged unless we are able to obtain a settlement for you.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 8/9/2011
    Wilson & Hajek,LLC, a personal injury law firm
    Wilson & Hajek,LLC, a personal injury law firm | Francis Hajek
    Dental malpractice is an area of Virginia personal injury law where consultation with an experienced injury attorney is a must. First of all, have you been to doctor for your injuries. I think it is important to make sure that you receive proper care for what seem to be fairly serious burns. The health care provider will also be able to document the extent of the burns and chart your recovery. Once you have recovered, the injury lawyer will be in a position to advise you on case value and how best to proceed. It does seem that you have a case, but the important thing right now is to get treatment to minimize pain and scarring. Good Luck.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 8/9/2011
    The Law Office of Stephen R. Chesley, LLC
    The Law Office of Stephen R. Chesley, LLC | Stephen R. Chesley
    If you would like to discuss this matter further.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 7/8/2013
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A.
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A. | Paul L. Whitfield
    If you find a dentist who agrees with you you might have a dental malpractice case. Unless you have a permanent injury the case will not have much value. Have you asked the dentist to simply inform his insurance carrier about the problem so they can investigate?
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 8/9/2011
    Bernard Huff, Attorney/Mediator
    Bernard Huff, Attorney/Mediator | Bernard Huff
    Contact and consult with a plaintiff's medical malpractice attorney to timely represent you regarding your injuries.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 8/9/2011
    Andrew T. Velonis, P.C.
    Andrew T. Velonis, P.C. | Andrew Velonis
    Is it that whitening gel got on your lips that caused the damage, or is it that your lips are unusually sensitive to UV light? If it's the latter, then it may be that the dentist had no way of knowing that would happen. Or, it may be that dentists have a way of finding out, and he failed to perform the test. In any event, malpractice cases are difficult, time consuming and expensive, so it may not be worthwhile to pursue.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 8/9/2011
    The Torkzadeh Law Firm
    The Torkzadeh Law Firm | Reza Torkzadeh
    There are many dental malpractice cases similar to yours. I suggest you immediately seek the advice of an attorney who has handled these types of cases who can properly evaluate your claim and tell you what your next steps should be.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/19/2012
    Kirshner & Groff
    Kirshner & Groff | Richard M. Kirshner
    You may have a case but not sure if an attorney would get involved absent a significant permanent injury.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/9/2011
    Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC
    Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC | Lacy Fields
    You might. I'd be happy to look at the photos and provide you with a free consultation. It is hard to tell without further research into the procedure and the known risks. Regardless, I'm sorry for your injuries. That sounds terribly painful!
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 8/9/2011
    LT Pepper Law
    LT Pepper Law | Luke T. Pepper
    Any lawyer who agrees to take this case will have to evaluate the case based on the medical records and then determine whether the complications are disclosed prior to the procedure. It is likely that there is no enough here for a malpractice case as the injuries do not seem permanent.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 8/9/2011
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law | Gregory Casale
    Medical Malpractice is a complicated tort. Not every medical procedure that doesn't turn out as expected rises to the level of malpractice. With any tort (civil claim of injury) there must be three components. First you must establish a standard of care. Essentially this means what is the standard procedure that should be followed given a particular medical set of symptoms, or a particular desired result. Since there is rarely a laundry list type guide as to what should be done in any one case, given all the variables associated with medicine, such as age, weight, diet, family history, symptoms, just to name a few, you really need another doctor to state what the standard of care should be in any particular set of circumstances. Then, you need to have a medical specialist ( i. e. doctor) state to a medical certainty, that not only was that standard of care not followed, but that it was the deviation from the standard of care that caused your injury. Now, even assuming that you establish all of that, you still need to establish what are the damages that resulted from that breach of medical care. A few days of soreness or a cut that heals or a malady that you may suffer for some tome may well be damages, but are they sufficient damages to go through all of the work associated with proving all of the above. If this sounds like an enormous hill to scale, you are right, it is. That is why not many attorneys, including myself, are willing to take on potential medical malpractice cases where there is not catastrophic injury. As you probably know, lawyers are paid on a contingent fee basis for Personal Injury/Tort/ Medical Malpractice cases. For a lawyer to do all of the work involved in bringing one of these suits (and I haven't even addressed the medical tribunal, which is a three member group of professionals that evaluate a case to see if it even merits a suit), there must be quite a bit of potential available. I would never tell you that you do not have a case. However, given all I have explained above, you can see where it may be difficult to find a lawyer willing to take on your case. Some cases settle early and do not have to go through all of the steps I have outlined above. Some are very complex and require even more work. There is no way to know up front who will settle quickly and not put a client through the paces outlined here. But any lawyer who has no intention of going the distance with a case, should think long and hard before taking it on. If you think your case is worth pursuing, call attorneys and see what they say. Every lawyer is different, has a different case load and a different opinion of what he or she is willing to take on. I wish you the best with your situation.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 8/9/2011
    A. Daniel Woska & Associates, P.C.
    A. Daniel Woska & Associates, P.C. | Dan Woska
    Whether you have, a case will largely depend on whether you can find a contingency fee attorney who believes he/she can prove damages and knows an expert in the area. If you have suffered some type of permanent injury, verified in a written and signed affidavit by another dentist you could proceed with a case. It is now a required part of filing any medical malpractice claim that the affidavit of an expert be filed with the petition. You now have to prove your case through expert testimony (the affidavit) before you can file and pursue your case. If you are unable to find a dentist who will sign an affidavit saying it was malpractice you cannot proceed with your case under Oklahoma law.
    Answer Applies to: Oklahoma
    Replied: 8/9/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    If you develop permanent scarring or you are a model and will lose substantial income because you can't work while you heal, then it may be worth pursuing with a lawyer. Otherwise, it's a small claims case that you should pursue on your own.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 8/9/2011
    Ewusiak & Roberts, P.A.
    Ewusiak & Roberts, P.A. | Christopher J. Roberts
    It is probably too soon to know if you have a case that would merit a legal action against the Dentist. Professional malpractice cases are very expensive. If your gums get better and the problem goes away, it is unlikely that the cost of bringing the action would be less than what you could recover, in which you would lose money bringing the action. Nonetheless, you should talk to a lawyer right away. He/she can help you determine what you need to do in order to document what happened, and he/she will let you know your options in terms of bringing a case.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 2/20/2012
    Law Office of Mark J. Leonardo
    Law Office of Mark J. Leonardo | Mark Leonardo
    You might try to find an attorney that handles these kids of cases by searching on the internet. They could probably tell you if its okay for the assistant to do this kind of work and what qualification he or she needs to do this treatment. You also need to look at your consent form. If the form lists burnt lips as a potential consequence, then you probably have little chance to overcome the consent form. They often lie and say they verbally told you it was a potential consequence, but if its not in writing, then at least you have an argument to make. Sure sounds like they did not take the appropriate precaution to protect your lips from the light source. If that's the case, it would be negligence. If you find an attorney that handles these cases, they will know what the proper protocol should have been and whether they failed to adhere to that.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/9/2011
    Oliver Law Office
    Oliver Law Office | Jami Oliver
    It sounds as if something went terribly wrong during the whitening process, which could be the result of oversight, being rushed, or just inexperience. Regardless, you should consult with an attorney who handles personal injury or malpractice matters. They may want to know if you signed a release before the procedure and what side effects were listed on that release. Either way, you should consult with an experienced attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 8/9/2011
    Lyle B. Masnikoff and Associates
    Lyle B. Masnikoff and Associates | Lyle B. Masnikoff
    You probably have a claim but depends on the amount of damages as to whether it is worth it to bring a claim
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/9/2011
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    You may well have a case against the office. It really depends on your total damages and whether your injuries require further treatment or are permanent in nature.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/8/2011
    Bulman Law Associates PLLC Injury Law Firm
    Bulman Law Associates PLLC Injury Law Firm | Thomas Bulman
    Not enough serious permanent damage. Medical malpractice cases are very very difficult to win. All your experts are expensive. So, no, I don't think we could make a case that makes sense.
    Answer Applies to: Montana
    Replied: 8/8/2011
    Kelaher Law Offices, P.A.
    Kelaher Law Offices, P.A. | James P Kelaher
    In Florida, you cannot sue a health care provider without first getting all the records and getting an affidavit from a "similar health care provider" stating that there exist reasonable grounds to support a claim for negligence. Without such an affidavit, your case will be dismissed. Go speak with a lawyer who knows how to navigate the minefield of bringing claims against health care providers.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/8/2011
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