If you think you may need the help of a Columbia, SC dental malpractice lawyer, you should understand the common reasons for dental malpractice lawsuits at the earliest point possible, as well as the steps involved in filing this type of claim. Seeking legal help from a knowledgeable attorney is imperative if you want to avoid the potentially serious effects of dental malpractice.
In this article, we will explore the most common reasons people file dental malpractice lawsuits in Columbia, SC and provide some insight into what filing one of these claims looks like. Furthermore, we will discuss the details of what's required to file a dental malpractice claim in South Carolina and the deadline or statute of limitations for these types of cases.
By gaining knowledge about these aspects with guidance from a skilled Columbia, SC dental malpractice lawyer, you can ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive proper compensation for the injuries you sustained due to negligence or misconduct by your dentist.
Common Reasons for Filing Dental Malpractice Lawsuits in South Carolina
In Columbia, South Carolina, people file dental malpractice lawsuits for various reasons, usually because the patient suffered severe, long-term complications as a result of dental treatment. Some of the most common causes include root canal overfills, root canal perforations, wrong tooth procedures, and permanent nerve damage.
Root Canal Overfills
A root canal overfill occurs when a dentist uses too much filling material, known as gutta percha, during a root canal procedure. This excess material can cause inflammation and infection in the surrounding tissues or even push into nearby nerves causing severe pain.
Root Canal Perforations
Root canal perforations happen when a dentist accidentally creates an opening in the tooth's structure while performing a root canal treatment. This mistake can lead to infections and may require additional treatments or even extraction of the affected tooth.
Wrong Tooth Procedures
Dentists sometimes perform procedures on the wrong tooth, leading to unnecessary pain and suffering for their patients. In some cases, this error results from miscommunication between dental professionals or incorrect patient records.
Nerve Damage from Dental Procedures
- Inferior Alveolar Nerve Damage: The inferior alveolar nerve gets damaged in dental procedures fairly regularly, and this nerve is responsible for sensation in the lower jaw, teeth, and gums. Damage to this nerve during dental procedures can cause permanent numbness or pain.
- Lingual Nerve Damage: The lingual nerve provides sensation to the tongue and floor of the mouth. If damaged during a dental procedure, patients may experience difficulty speaking or swallowing as well as altered taste sensations.
In Columbia, SC, dental malpractice lawsuits are often brought about due to root canal overfills and perforations, incorrect tooth procedures, or serious nerve damage. Some other common dental malpractice issues involve wrong tooth procedures and extractions. Patients can suffer from lasting harm due to a dental practitioner's carelessness, with nerve injury potentially causing lifelong difficulties.
Permanent Nerve Damage from Dental Procedures
A major reason people file dental malpractice lawsuits in Columbia, SC is permanent nerve damage caused by negligent dental work. The inferior alveolar and lingual nerves play crucial roles in sensation and function within the mouth, and damage to these nerves can result in severe pain or loss of sensation that can drastically impact a patient's quality of life.
Inferior Alveolar Nerve Damage
The inferior alveolar nerve provides sensation to the lower teeth, gums, and chin, as we've talked about. When a dentist or oral surgeon damages this nerve during a dental procedure, like a tooth extraction or dental implant procedure, the injured patient may experience numbness, tingling, or even constant pain. In some cases, the damage can be temporary; however, if not addressed and treated promptly, permanent injury may occur.
Lingual Nerve Damage
Similar to the inferior alveolar nerve, the lingual nerve plays an essential role in oral function because it supplies sensory information for taste and touch sensations on each side of the tongue. Lingual nerve injuries are often associated with wisdom tooth extractions but can also occur during other types of oral surgery or anesthesia administration. Patients suffering from lingual nerve damage may experience difficulty speaking or swallowing due to altered sensations.
- Symptoms: Symptoms of both inferior alveolar and lingual nerve damage include persistent numbness (anesthesia), burning pain (dysesthesia), sharp shooting pains (neuralgia), hypersensitivity (hyperalgesia), and loss of taste (ageusia).
- Diagnosis: A medical professional can diagnose lingual nerve damage through a thorough examination, which might include imaging studies such as X-rays, CBCT scans, or MRI scans.
- Treatment: Treatment options for permanent nerve damage vary depending on the severity and cause. In some cases, conservative treatments like medication or physical therapy may be sufficient; however, surgical intervention might be necessary in more severe instances. Microsurgical repair, for example, is one potential option to restore function and alleviate pain.
If you believe that negligent dental care in South Carolina has caused permanent nerve damage, it's important to seek the counsel of a knowledgeable Columbia, SC dental malpractice lawyer who handles a variety of dental malpractice cases. An experienced lawyer that handles dental malpractice cases can provide legal guidance and protect your rights throughout the process.
Broken Jaw During Wisdom Tooth Extractions
Wisdom tooth extractions are fairly routine dental procedures. Nevertheless, in some situations, these extractions can have unfortunate consequences, like a fractured or broken jaw. A wisdom tooth extraction is typically performed out of necessity when the teeth become impacted or do not have enough room to grow properly within the mouth.
A broken jaw during a wisdom tooth extraction is often caused by excessive force applied by the dentist or oral surgeon while removing the tooth. This injury necessitates prompt medical care and can involve a prolonged period of healing, accompanied by considerable physical and psychological strain. The additional physical and emotional stress resulting from this complication can be overwhelming for patients who were initially seeking relief from their impacted wisdom teeth.
If a dentist or oral surgeon broke your jaw during a wisdom tooth extraction procedure in Columbia, SC, it's essential that you understand your legal rights and options:
- Seek Medical Attention: It's crucial to receive proper treatment for your injury immediately after discovering it. Documenting your injuries with medical records will serve as valuable evidence if you decide to pursue legal action.
- Contact An Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer: Consult with a Columbia, SC dental malpractice lawyer who can evaluate your case and determine whether pursuing compensation for damages related to your injury is warranted.
- Gather Evidence And Testimony: Your lawyer will help collect necessary documentation including medical records, expert witness affidavits (if applicable), photographs of injuries sustained during the procedure, etc., which could support allegations of negligence against the dentist or oral surgeon involved.
An experienced Columbia, SC dental malpractice lawyer can provide legal counsel and help protect your interests while seeking recompense for the suffering, emotional anguish, and financial losses caused by an improperly done wisdom tooth extraction.
If you have suffered a broken jaw during wisdom tooth extraction, it is important to seek advice from a Columbia, SC dental malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. Filing a lawsuit for dental negligence in South Carolina necessitates the guidance of an experienced lawyer who is well-versed in safeguarding the rights of dental malpractice victims.
Filing a Dental Malpractice Claim in South Carolina
A dental malpractice claim will typically involve several more steps than a conventional personal injury claim, like a car accident or trucking accident. That's because South Carolina has specific statutes that apply to medical malpractice claims, which adds a presuit requirement, as well as the requirement for an expert witness affidavit.
Obtaining an affidavit from a qualified expert witness is a critical step in a dental malpractice or medical malpractice claim in South Carolina. The expert will testify that your dentist breached the standard of care, causing serious injury. Consulting with an experienced Columbia, SC dental malpractice lawyer who regularly handles these claims is essential throughout the claims process and can help you gain access to the expert witness you need.
Obtaining An Expert Witness Affidavit
As we talked about, the first step in filing a dental malpractice claim in South Carolina is getting a signed expert affidavit that outlines how the dentist breached the standard of care in rendering your treatment. This professional should be well-versed in dentistry and able to provide credible testimony on how the standard of care was not met during your treatment. The affidavit serves as evidence supporting your claim and helps establish liability for any damages sustained due to negligent dental work.
You and your lawyer will work to gather all documentation relevant to your dental malpractice claim, such as medical records, photographs, and testimonies from witnesses that support your claim.
Filing a Notice of Intent
You and your lawyer will file a notice of intent, which is required prior to filing a dental malpractice lawsuit in South Carolina. This gives the parties a chance to resolve the claim prior to proceeding with a lawsuit.
Many times, these cases can be resolved through settlement negotiations rather than going through trial proceedings. An experienced Columbia, SC dental malpractice lawyer will know how best to approach negotiations with insurance companies or opposing counsel so you receive fair compensation for injuries suffered.
Preparing for Trial
If negotiations reach a dead end, and your case must proceed to trial, you and your lawyer will work together to ensure you are well-prepared for the road ahead and that you can present a strong argument in court.
Although filing a dental malpractice claim in South Carolina can be complicated and time consuming, you can get the justice you and your family are entitled to with the help of an experienced Columbia, SC dental malpractice lawyer.
Statute Of Limitations For Medical Malpractice In South Carolina
The statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims in South Carolina is essentially the deadline within which a person must file his or her dental malpractice claim in South Carolina. Realizing the time limitations can help guarantee that you don't miss your opportunity to file a claim for your damages.
Generally speaking, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims in South Carolina is three (3) years from the date you discover the harm your dentist caused you. However, there are some exceptions and nuances to the statute of limitations that could extend the deadline further.
- No later than six years after occurrence: The statute of repose sets a deadline that applies regardless of when you discovered the harm. In South Carolina, a competent adult cannot file a claim more than six years after the incident took place.
- Minors: If the victim was under 18 at the time the dentist committed malpractice, that person will have until his or her 19th birthday or within three years from discovering harm (whichever comes first) to file a claim.
- Mentally incompetent persons: The statute may be extended if an individual was mentally incapacitated during part or all of this period.
- Fraudulent concealment: If it's proven that someone intentionally concealed information about potential negligence leading to injury or death, this could extend the filing deadline as well.
- Foreign objects left in patient body: If an object such as surgical equipment was accidentally left inside your body during surgery without being detected right away, then it might also qualify for an extension on a case-by-case basis.
Realizing the time limit imposed by South Carolina's statute of limitations for medical malpractice is critical to ensure a successful lawsuit. With proper guidance from a Columbia, SC dental malpractice lawyer, it will be easier to build your case and gather evidence when seeking compensation for dental malpractice claims.
Seeking Legal Representation for Dental Malpractice Claims
If you believe that a dentist negligently caused you harm in Columbia, SC, a dental malpractice lawyer with expertise in dental malpractice cases can protect your rights and pursue compensation for these damages. They will guide you through the legal process and ensure your rights are protected while pursuing compensation for physical, emotional, and financial hardships caused by negligent dental care.
Free Consultation with a Dental Malpractice Lawyer
At our law firm, we offer free consultations to discuss your case and determine how we may be able to help you. During the consultation, the lawyer will assess your case and provide guidance on whether or not taking legal action is suitable. It's essential to be open and honest during this meeting so that the lawyer can accurately assess your case.
Building Your Case and Gathering Evidence
An experienced Columbia, SC dental malpractice lawyer will work diligently to gather evidence supporting your claim. This may include obtaining medical records related to the incident(s), consulting with expert witnesses such as dentists or oral surgeons who specialize in similar procedures, reviewing any available photographs or x-rays taken before and after treatment, conducting depositions of relevant parties involved (e.g., dentist staff members), etc.
- Gathering Medical Records: Your attorney will request copies of all relevant medical records from both current providers treating any complications resulting from alleged negligence as well as past providers who performed initial treatments at issue.
- Hiring Expert Witnesses: In many cases involving complex issues like nerve damage or root canal perforations due to improper techniques used by dentists during procedures, expert witnesses play a crucial role in proving that negligence occurred and caused harm to the patient. In many states, including South Carolina, an expert affidavit is required to pursue most types of dental malpractice claims.
- Depositions: Depositions are formal interviews conducted under oath where parties involved in the case provide testimony regarding their knowledge of events surrounding alleged malpractice. This information can be invaluable when building your case for trial or negotiating settlements with opposing counsel.
In addition to gathering evidence, an experienced dental malpractice lawyer will also help you navigate South Carolina's complex legal system while ensuring all necessary paperwork is filed correctly and within applicable deadlines set forth by state law.
FAQs in Relation to Columbia, SC Dental Malpractice Lawyer
Q1: What is the most common type of dental malpractice in South Carolina?
A1: The most common dental malpractice involves surgical errors, procedural errors, improper diagnosis, and complications from procedures such as root canals, extractions, or implants. This may include perforations during root canal treatments, extracting the wrong tooth, or causing permanent nerve damage during an extraction or dental implant procedure.
Q2: Can you sue for dental malpractice in Columbia, South Carolina?
A2: Yes, you can sue for dental malpractice if a professional's negligence cause you to suffer an injury. Once you discover that you've suffered such an injury, you should consider consulting with an experienced Columbia, SC dental malpractice lawyer to help guide you through the legal process.
Q3: What is the statute of limitations for dental malpractice in South Carolina?
A3: In South Carolina, the general rule for filing a medical or dental malpractice claim is within three (3) years from the date of incident. However, there are exceptions and special circumstances that may extend this deadline. Consulting with a Columbia, SC dental malpractice lawyer will help determine your specific case's time limits.
Q4: Is there a cap on dental malpractice damages in SC?
A4: South Carolina has a cap on non-economic damages (e.g., pain and suffering) awarded in medical malpractice lawsuits at $350,000 per defendant with an overall limit of $1.05 million across all defendants involved SC Code § 15-32-220. Economic damages (e.g., lost wages & future care costs) are not capped.