Navigating Compensation for Lingual Nerve Injury in Dental Malpractice Cases

Lingual nerve injury & dental malpracticeLingual nerve injuries can lead to significant distress and negatively impact one's daily life. When such an injury is the result of dental negligence, victims might be eligible for compensation through a dental malpractice claim. The amount of compensation in cases of lingual nerve injury can vary greatly depending on several factors.

Understanding Lingual Nerve Injuries

Diagram of the lingual nerve in the mouthThe lingual nerve is a sensory nerve in the mouth and tongue that arises from the mandibular division of the trigeminal nerve, which is the largest nerve in the head. It runs alongside the tongue and sensation to the tongue and the floor of the mouth under the tongue and to the left and right of the tongue. Damage to the lingual nerve can result in various symptoms, such as:

  • Altered taste (often causing metallic taste in the mouth)
  • Loss of taste
  • Loss of tongue sensation
  • Tingling feelings in the tongue that won’t go away
  • Pain, burning, or electrical shock sensations in the tongue
  • Impaired speech or difficulty speaking
  • Drooling
  • Difficulty eating or chewing food
  • Biting of the tongue

Lingual nerve injuries can occur during dental procedures like wisdom teeth extractions, dental implant surgeries, root canal procedures, or other dental procedures. If a dentist causes a permanent lingual nerve injury as a result of breaching the standard of care, the victim may be entitled to compensation.

Compensation Types in Dental Malpractice Claims

There are a variety of types of compensation available to victims of dental malpractice who have suffered lingual nerve injuries. These types of damages are typically divided into two major categories: economic damages and noneconomic damages. We’ll talk about each of these major types of damages below.

Economic Damages: Recovering Financial Losses from Lingual Nerve Injuries

Economic damages aim to compensate victims of lingual nerve injuries for the readily quantifiable financial losses they have incurred due to their injuries. These damages typically include one or more of the following types of damages.

Past and Future Lost Wages

If a lingual nerve injury causes the victim to miss work, take an extended leave, or accept a lower-paying job, they may be eligible for compensation to cover the lost wages.

Medical Bills

Compensation for medical bills includes the costs of treatment already incurred due to the lingual nerve injury and any anticipated future medical expenses resulting from the injury.

Medical Liens

In cases where the victim's health insurance has paid for medical bills related to the lingual nerve injury, the insurance carrier may have the right to reimbursement from any settlement or verdict obtained in the malpractice claim. This is sometimes called a hospital lien or medical lien.

Out-of-Pocket Expenses

Out-of-pocket expenses are costs directly related to the lingual nerve injury that the victim has paid for themselves. These expenses may include co-pays, transportation costs, costs of medical appointments, and medication costs.

Since economic damages typically have clear documentation, such as medical bills, wage statements, and receipts, calculating these damages is often more straightforward than calculating noneconomic damages.

Noneconomic Damages: Addressing the Intangible Impact of Lingual Nerve Injuries

Noneconomic damages aim to compensate victims for the non-financial, intangible consequences of their lingual nerve injuries. These damages are harder to quantify but can sometimes be much more significant than economic damages. Examples of noneconomic damages include the following.

Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering compensation addresses the physical and mental distress caused by the lingual nerve injury. This can include chronic pain, discomfort, or emotional turmoil resulting from the injury.

Emotional Distress or Mental Anguish

Mental anguish compensation covers the emotional distress experienced by the victim due to the lingual nerve injury. This may include anxiety, depression, or fear associated with the injury and its consequences.

Drooling Out of the Mouth

Drooling compensation takes into account the embarrassment and inconvenience of uncontrollable drooling caused by the lingual nerve injury.

Speech Impediment or Difficulty Speaking

The lingual nerve is crucial for coordinating speech. Compensation for speech impediments addresses difficulties in pronouncing words or slurred speech resulting from damage to the lingual nerve.

Loss of Taste or Altered Taste

Compensation for loss of taste addresses the complete loss or alteration of the victim's ability to taste due to the lingual nerve injury.

Loss of Sensation in the Mouth or Face

Loss of sensation compensation covers the impact of losing sensation in the tongue and floor of the mouth, which can affect various aspects of the victim's day-to-day social life, such as eating, drinking, and talking.

Loss of Enjoyment Life

This type of compensation addresses the diminished pleasure or enjoyment in activities the victim previously enjoyed before the injury, such as eating, talking, or socializing. It can cover both the time since the injury and the anticipated future loss of enjoyment due to the injury.

Permanent Disfigurement

Disfigurement compensation covers any physical changes to the victim's face, tongue, or other parts of the mouth resulting from the lingual nerve injury. This can include numbness, muscle contractions, scarring, or changes in saliva production.

Since noneconomic damages involve subjective factors, calculating them can be more challenging than calculating economic damages. Nonetheless, noneconomic damages play a vital role in providing a more comprehensive form of compensation for the victims of lingual nerve injuries.

Critical Factors in a Lingual Nerve Injury Case

There are a number of factors that come into play when calculating noneconomic damages in lingual nerve injury cases. These factors are important to consider so that the victim’s compensation accurately reflects the injury's impact on the victim's life.

The Age of the Person Bringing the Dental Malpractice Claim

The age of the victim plays a crucial role in determining the compensation amount. Younger claimants are likely to receive more compensation because of the long-lasting impact of the lingual nerve injury on their lives.

The Severity of the Lingual Nerve Injury Damage

As with other types of personal injury claims, the severity of the injury itself can greatly affect the compensation a victim is entitled to. Cases where the nerve is completely severed or transected, for example, are more clear cut (no pun intended).

The Severity of the Lingual Nerve Injury Symptoms

The severity of the lingual nerve injury symptoms experienced by the victim will directly influence the compensation amount. More severe symptoms typically result in higher compensation to reflect the increased distress and impact on the victim's life.

The Prognosis of the Lingual Nerve Injury

The expected duration of the symptoms can have a significant effect on the compensation awarded. Cases with a poor prognosis, where symptoms are expected to persist indefinitely or worsen over time, may result in higher compensation compared to cases where symptoms are expected to improve or resolve eventually.

The Impact on the Victim’s Day-to-Day Life

In a dental malpractice case, the court will consider how the symptoms of the lingual nerve injury affect the victim's daily life. This includes the impact on their ability to work, socialize, and engage in hobbies or activities they previously enjoyed. Greater disruption to daily life may result in higher compensation to reflect the injury's overall impact on the victim's quality of life.

By considering these factors, the court can more accurately assess the appropriate compensation for victims of lingual nerve injuries, taking into account the unique circumstances and challenges each individual faces as a result of their injury.