If an injured dental patient seeks a lawyer on legal web sites such as avvo.com, dental malpractice usually falls under a sub-heading of medical malpractice. This is certainly the case, and there are a number of dental procedures that commonly lead to dental malpractice claims, among them are: Root canal therapy, dental implants and puncturing the sinus cavity during a number of procedures in the upper jaw.
In order to pursue a dental malpractice case, and affidavit of an expert is required to be filed with the lawsuit in most jurisdictions. This is the same requirement as medical malpractice cases. The filing of the affidavit with the complaint necessitates that an expert in the field review the case and provide and opinion in the form of an affidavit that the treatment rendered in the case was below the standard of care. The standard of care for dentists and doctors is that they must exercise such reasonable care and skill for their patients as, under similar conditions and like surrounding circumstances, is ordinarily employed by the dental or medical profession generally. This is investigated by reviewing the treaters records, radiographs and other related information in order to determine the level of care provided by the potential defendant. The reviewing expert must have been regularly engaged in practice or teaching three of the past five years in the same area of practice or specialty, with sufficient frequency to establish an appropriate level of knowledge, as determined by the trial judge, in performing the same procedure, diagnosing the condition or rendering the treatment which is alleged to have been performed or rendered negligently by the defendant. In most cases, there is no grace period for filing the expert affidavit after the suit is filed. If there is no malpractice affidavit, the suit will be dismissed.
As discussed above, the standard of care must be violated during the procedures and care in order for there to be a case to pursue. In other words, simply because an injury occurred, does not mean there is malpractice. However, in most instance, the expert review will determine if there was malpractice and whether the malpractice caused he injury. Since dental malpractice is a form a medical malpractice, it follows that in order to pursue such claims, the injuries complained of must be extensive and permanent.