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$2.3M Dental Malpractice Verdict Upheld

A recent dental malpractice verdict of over $2.3M was upheld on appeal. The malpractice victim suffered a lingual nerve injury during a tooth extraction which manifested itself with numbness of her tongue coupled with severe pain. This resulted in difficulty in swallowing, speaking and drooling.

Despite undergoing corrective surgery on her lingual nerve, the plaintiff’s symptoms did not resolve and she suffered a permanent nerve injury, and, as is often the case, her pain symptoms intensified after the attempt to repair the nerve.

According to the opinion, plaintiff was twenty-five years old when her doctor suggested that she have her wisdom teeth extracted. The defendant dentist extracted plaintiff’s four wisdom teeth a little over a month after the initial consultation. Defendant performed the extraction after administering an anesthetic that plaintiff described “put [her] to sleep.” Plaintiff testified that when she regained consciousness, she began screaming and felt excruciating pain. Plaintiff was completely asymptomatic before the extraction. Defendant prescribed narcotic pain medication in tablet form; plaintiff testified the medication made her nauseous and caused her to vomit.

At her post-operative visit with defendant three days after the extraction, plaintiff complained of of numbness in the tongue. According to plaintiff, defendant told her that her symptoms were “definitely not normal,” but that “sometimes these things can resolve themselves.” However, plaintiff’s symptoms did not improve. She testified during the trial that her tongue, the floor of her mouth and the gum line were completely numb. She also felt a shooting pain that came from the very back of her furthest tooth on the right side and that the pain and numbness caused her a lot of difficulties.

After consulting with several dentists and related medical professionals, plaintiff decided to undergo another surgical procedure to attempt to repair the damage to her right lingual nerve. The postoperative report noted that a large amount of scar tissue was identified in the area of previously extracted tooth #32;  a neuroma appeared to be present and that the lingual nerve was severed. An attempt was made to identify the proximal segment of the right lingual nerve and re-connect the nerve. Despite the nerve being re-connected, the plaintiff continued to experience the same difficulties she had before the surgery and developed increased pain after the subsequent surgery.

 

 

Due to the increased pain, plaintiff was advised to consider exploring medication management so that she might better be able to evaluate the relative benefit and risk of medication management and at the time of trial plaintiff had decided not to undergo further surgery and was attempting to manage her pain and lifestyle limitations through medication.

Based on my experience in representing dental malpractice victims here in Georgia and other states, the concurrent numbness and pain in the area innervated by the lingual nerve is more common than most people think. It is a particularly debilitating injury that supported the verdict in this case.

Attorney Robert J. Fleming has been handling personal injury cases, dental malpractice and medical malpractice lawsuits for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 20 years in and around Atlanta, Georgia and its surrounding areas, including Alpharetta, Austell, Avondale Estates, Chamblee, College Park, Conyers, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, and Smyrna. If you have been seriously injured and would like quality legal representation, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.