How can I find out if a dentist has malpractice insurance?

by A
(USA)

I had a root canal done in May last year. The numbing agent wore off a few hours later. It was a Thursday evening. Saturday night at 11:00pm it went numb again. I call the Dentist the following morning, and recounted what happened. He call in a prescription for pain killers and antibiotics.

For a week he told me I was fine. He didn't know what was wrong, but said I would be fine and not to forget my appointment the following week for my crown and root canal on the other side of my mouth.

I decided I was not fine. I called another dentist and he saw me within an hour of my call. He told me my Mental Nerve had been paralyzed, and though he could not do anything to help me he knew who could. That doctor saw me that same afternoon.

To get to the point, I have had 2 surgeries and that part of my face is permanently paralyzed - acid burn, the nerve was removed. I am on lots of nerve pain medicine and high dose ibuprofen, most likely for the rest of my life.

This "root canal" dentist is ignoring my lawyer's attempts to deliver him papers. I know how expensive it is to sue when you need an "expert witness". So I was wondering, is there a way to find out if he has insurance to know if my attempts at a lawsuit are in vain. He sold his dental practice a month after this incident.

Any information you can give on how to find out if he has insurance would be great. Thanks.

Visitor Question:
Disclaimer: Information provided in our response is NOT formal legal advice. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Under no circumstances should the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Our response does NOT create an attorney-client relationship. Always get a formal case review from a licensed attorney in your area.

ANSWER for "How can I find out if a dentist has malpractice insurance?":

A (USA):

It is our policy here at ICC not to interfere with the attorney-client privilege. To do so would be entirely inappropriate. You should seek answers to your specific questions from your attorney.

Generally speaking, dentists do not have a legal duty to disclose whether or not they have dental malpractice insurance, and if so, the limits of their policy. To elicit that information normally takes what is referred to as "pretrial discovery."

Pretrial discovery can include depositions, interrogatories, motions to disclose, and other information vital to the pursuit of a malpractice claim. Unfortunately, in most cases pretrial discovery can not occur until a plaintiff, usually through his or her attorney, has filed a lawsuit.

Once a lawsuit is filed, the plaintiff - and the defendant - have the right to conduct the type of pretrial discovery required to learn about the dentist, his or past history of malpractice claims, and whether or not malpractice insurance exists.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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