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4 Things You Need to Sue a Negligent Dentist for Malpractice

Milwaukee Personal Injury Law Firm on What It Takes to Win a Dental Malpractice Suit

Milwaukee Dental Malpractice Lawyers

Warshafsky Law has a long history of winning big for people who have been harmed by medical malpractice of all kinds. As with any type of medical malpractice lawsuit, success hinges upon a solid claim.

In most dental malpractice cases, you need to prove these 4 things to win your case:

  1. The existence of a duty, usually implied by the doctor-patient relationship
  2. A breach of the duty — in malpractice, a breach of the standard of care
  3. Damages — in non-legal terms, an injury
  4. Causation, a causal connection between the failure to meet the standard of care and the injury alleged

Source: Contemporary Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery by James R. Hupp

Proving a dentist failed to provide the standard of care is typically established by an expert medical witness with experience in the type of procedure which resulted in the injury. Similarly qualified witnesses are also needed to establish causation. With our extensive experience in personal injury cases, Warshafsky Law has no trouble finding expert witnesses for any kind of dental malpractice lawsuit. It doesn’t hurt that we have a medical doctor on staff, either!

What is considered dental malpractice?


Dental malpractice (dental negligence) is a type of medical malpractice and refers to an avoidable injury from:

  • Negligent dental work (including using wrong/defective equipment)
  • Failure to diagnose or treat a harmful condition (including misdiagnosis of tooth decay or gum disease)
  • Delay in diagnosis or treatment of oral disease (including infection)
  • Intentional misconduct by the dentist

Depending on your dental insurance, other types of malpractice may occur. One example would be a dentist giving an unnecessary diagnosis and treatment just to bill the patient’s insurance company for more money.

Orthodontists, endodontists, dental hygienists and other dental professionals can also be held responsible for malpractice resulting in injury.

What Successful Dental Malpractice Suits Look Like

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that if your injury was minor (one which caused only temporary pain and discomfort, for instance), it generally isn’t worth filing a suit over even if it was caused by malpractice. The type of injuries in successful dental malpractice suits are much more serious, with some resulting in hospitalization and even death to the patient.

Wait…did we just say “death”? Unfortunately, we did. While most people don’t think going to the dentist can result in serious injury, the risks are very real. When procedures go wrong, patients can suffer serious infections, brain abscesses, osteomyelitis and even death.

Dental Procedures Most Often Resulting in Lawsuits

  • Tooth extractions
  • Endodontic work (root canals)
  • Dental implants, crowns and bridges
  • Defective medical devices
  • Complications from dental anesthesia
  • Failure to diagnose oral cancer
  • Substandard TMJ and orthognathic surgeries
  • Infections requiring hospitalization
  • Sinus perforations
  • Nerve damage
  • Air embolisms
  • Adverse drug reactions

Interestingly, there is no way to know just how many dentistry-related deaths occur because most state governments don’t keep records. As of this writing, only Texas clearly requires dentists to report all deaths that could be related to dental treatments. If their statistics reflect what is going on in the rest of America, we’re in serious trouble: after reviewing statistics for the state of Texas, The Dallas Morning News found that one dental patient dies about every other day.

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Statute of Limitations on Wisconsin Dental Malpractice Lawsuits

Whether you suffered negligent dental work or your dentist failed to diagnose a hazardous condition, Wisconsin law sets a time limit on your ability to file a lawsuit seeking compensation.

Your personal injury lawsuit must begin within three years of the date of the injury OR one year from the date the injury was discovered (or “in the exercise of reasonable diligence should have been discovered.”) Wisconsin Statutes section 893.55

A dental negligence claim may NOT be started more than five years from the date of the injury or the act omission.

When in doubt, consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the act of dental malpractice. Not onlyis there a time limit, but physical evidence to support your case may fade.

Wondering how to define “reasonable” or whether the fairness of the statute could be questioned in your case? Schedule a completely free case appraisal with Warshafsky Law today.

Jaw-Dropping Dental Lawsuit Cases

If you follow any of the tabloids, you might remember hearing about a malpractice suit country music singer/actress LeeAnn Rimes filed against her Los Angeles dentist back in 2013. It all started after a dentist she consulted with about her Temporomandibular joint pain (TMJ) recommended veneers and crowns on her upper teeth as a way to alleviate her TMJ problems while also improving her appearance.

Unfortunately for Ms. Rimes, what followed was a nightmare of severe tooth pain, chronic bleeding and inflammation of the gums. Over the course of 3 years, she had over 29 surgeries to correct problems caused by the veneers. These surgeries included 9 root canals, bone grafts, and a temporary bridge. In addition to suing for the pain these problems caused, she’s also suing for “permanent cosmetic deficiency” and for lost income.

Rimes’ case showed that even celebrities, who you would think have only the best dental care, are not immune to problems caused by bad dental work. While the vast majority of dentists are well qualified and do exceptional work for their patients, dentists who fail to follow the accepted standard of care for treatment can be sued for medical malpractice.

When people choose their Wisconsin personal injury lawyer based on the endorsement of a football player or actor, they risk choosing an attorney who has never won more money in a courtroom. Settlement mills forward your paperwork and take a cut of your damages.

Hundreds of times we have prepared cases like yours beyond the brink of trial. Facing unlimited liability AND an expensive jury trial, insurance companies fess up what your case is worth. They HATE when you choose Warshafsky. Insurance companies know: it IS about the money.

If you have suffered pain or injury as a result of dental care gone wrong, our Milwaukee dental malpractice attorneys can help you recover your expenses, as well as compensation for loss of income and pain and suffering.

Other notable dental malpractice cases:

How Much Money Can You Expect In A Dental Malpractice Suit?

Without knowing the specifics of your situation, it’s impossible to give a dollar amount for the problems you’ve experienced due to dental work. Each case is unique, and the costs involved in correcting the problem, as well as the degree of pain and suffering endured, obviously affect the size of the judgment. If you’re looking for a ballpark idea, though, the average payment in a dental malpractice suit is $65,000 (according to Medical Protective, the leading provider of malpractice insurance in the United States).

Regardless of what type of case you have, our Milwaukee personal injury attorneys will secure the maximum possible compensation for the harm you’ve suffered. Unlike the typical “sign and settle” law firm, we prepare every case from day one as if it will be heard before a judge and jury. We’ll never recommend you take an insurance company’s settlement offer just so we can move on to the next case. Our reputation was built on a willingness to go to bat for every client in a court of law, and it has resulted in some of the highest judgments in Wisconsin history.

When you have Warshafsky Law on your side, you can count on a legal team with a willingness to fight for everything you’re owed.

Victim of Dental Malpractice in Wisconsin? Schedule a Free Legal Consultation Today

Warshafsky Law offers a free initial legal consultation to anyone considering legal action against a dentist, orthodontist or oral surgeon. You will meet with one of our experienced Milwaukee personal injury attorneys, not a paralegal. There is no charge and no obligation to hire us.

If you have grounds for a dental malpractice suit and would like to have us represent you, we will not ask for any payment from you until your case has been resolved—either through settlement or through a judgment made in court.

Warshafsky Law also offers a No Win, No Fee guarantee: if we do not succeed in your case, you don’t owe us a thing. With Warshafsky Law, you have absolutely nothing to lose.

Contact a Milwaukee dental malpractice attorney now to schedule a free legal consultation.