Dentistry is as much of an art as it is a science. However, regardless of whether you’re dealing with a toothache, have suffered a chipped or broken tooth, or are in for a routine checkup, there’s still a possibility for risk. While most dentists work hard to follow safety protocols for each patient, there are some who make mistakes or are derelict in their duties.

Negligence in dentistry can take many forms, including failing to administer anesthesia when necessary, the improper use of dental instruments, or generally failing to meet health and safety standards. If you’ve sustained injuries due to negligence in dentistry, you may be entitled to compensation, but proving negligence and getting that compensation in Wisconsin can be a challenge. Here, we’ll take a look at common types of dental malpractice, medical and dental malpractice laws in Wisconsin, and how to prove negligence in a dental malpractice case.

Common Types of Dental Malpractice

Negligence in dentistry, also known as dental malpractice, comes in two primary forms: a dental injury resulting from an equipment malfunction, or a dental injury resulting from neglect. However, most dental malpractice cases have to do with neglect rather than equipment malfunctions.

For example, oral surgery procedures can be extremely risky, as they involve cutting into very sensitive areas of the mouth. There are numerous potential complications that can arise during or after an oral surgery procedure, including:

  • Damage to nerves, which can cause numbness or loss of sensation in the lips and tongue
  • Infections in the mouth or skin near your mouth
  • Complications with anesthesia, which can even lead to death

Even during regular dental checkups, dentists are liable for failing to diagnose, identify, or raise alarms regarding other critical health problems related to the mouth, like mouth and gum cancers or other conditions that could be causing you pain.

Medical and Dental Malpractice Laws in Wisconsin

Under Wisconsin law, dentists are considered healthcare professionals. This means the same laws that apply to medical malpractice cases also apply to dental malpractice cases.

In Wisconsin, if you’re the victim of negligence in dentistry, you have three years from the date of the injury to bring an action against the dentist. In the event that you didn’t notice the injury or the injury hadn’t become evident before the three years expired, you have one year from the date you notice the injury to bring an action against the dentist.

When you do bring an action against a dentist for dental malpractice, the real work begins. Medical malpractice cases in Wisconsin are difficult to prove and require a high burden of proof from you, the plaintiff. 

Finally, medical malpractice lawsuits have compensation limits for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. These damages are limited to $750,000. There’s no limit to economic damages, which include measurable expenses such as medical costs, rehabilitation services, medications, and more.

How Do You Prove Negligence in Dentistry in Wisconsin?

With such a high burden of proof, how can you prove negligence in dentistry in Wisconsin? The process is complicated further because Wisconsin doesn’t have any established guidelines for proving negligence or medical malpractice. However, to win in court, you’ll most likely be expected to establish and prove the elements of a typical negligence case:

  • That you were owed a duty by the defendant (the dentist). In the case of dental malpractice, this is usually established by the dentist-patient relationship.
  • You’ll want to establish a common standard for the type of care you received. This is important for creating contrast in comparison to the substandard care you received and illustrating that you wouldn’t have been injured if it weren’t for the poor care you received. 
  • You will need to establish the scope of the dentist’s responsibility. For example, if your dentist failed to inform you of a mouth cancer which you were later diagnosed with, you could assume that the dentist should have been able to foresee the danger the cancer posed to you. You will need to prove that it would have been reasonable for the dentist to foresee the outcome.
  • Finally, you will need to demonstrate that you were injured and that your injury was a direct result of the dentist’s negligence.

Proving each of these items is a significant undertaking. It’s for this reason that an expert witness would typically be included in the case. Expert witnesses are absolutely essential to dental malpractice cases, as they are uniquely qualified to give context, speak on standard practices, and answer various technical questions which can ultimately help you get the damages you deserve. 

Turn to Medical and Dental Malpractice Lawyers You Can Count On

The complexity of dental and medical malpractice demands a lawyer who is absolutely dedicated to your case. Some lawyers and settlement mills shy away from what tend to be rigorous cases requiring lots of time and collaboration. Not Frank Pasternak and Jeff Zirgibel.

With over 50 years of combined experience, Frank and Jeff have a long history of dedicating their energy and expertise to each case and producing outstanding results for their clients. If you’re a victim of dental malpractice, don’t wait; contact Frank Pasternak and Jeff Zirgibel today for a free case consultation.