How can I find out if my dentist had insurance or assets?

by Katherine
(Larkspur, California)

Earlier this year, I learned that my dentist of 40 years had done significant damage to my teeth because he failed to meet the Standard of Care on five different counts. I filed a complaint against him with the Dental Board of California as well as with an attorney. I have an expert witness report detailing the damage that he did, estimated at $32,000, in addition to the fact that he abandoned me.

It took five attempts to serve him, but we finally did, and he was given 30 days to respond. On the 29th day, my attorney received an email from someone claiming to be my former dentist's attorney friend, but not officially representing him. He informed us that my former dentist was very ill and had neither insurance nor assets, so there was no point in pursuing this case.

How do we know if he's telling the truth or if this is just an attempt to blow us off? I called the Dental Board of California who told me that is "confidential information" and he is not required to carry insurance. How can it be possible for a dentist to be issued a license to practice if he has neither insurance nor assets to cover any potential damage to his patients?

So now he just gets to walk away while I get stuck with a $32,000 bill for repairing the damage that he did, in addition to the thousands of dollars that I and my dental plans already paid him over the years? Is there any way that I can find out if he ever had malpractice insurance or assets? What other recourse do I have? Thank you.

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 my dentist had insurance or assets?":

Katherine (Larkspur, California):

It is our policy at Injury Claim Coach not to interfere with an attorney-client relationship. To do so would be inappropriate. In all matters regarding your question, seek the advice and counsel of your attorney.

Generally speaking, California law does not require a dentist to carry property or liability insurance. However, if the dentist was renting his office space from a third party property owner, that third party property owner, as a condition of the lease may have required the dentist to carry liability insurance.

If you can prove you were injured by the dentist while on the property owner's premises, there is a possibility you will be able to file an insurance claim with the property owner's insurance company.

If your attorney has informed you pursuing the case would be a futile exercise, then your attorney has very likely investigated the dentist and any assets, including the existence of insurance.

You can be confident if there were assets to be liquidated, your attorney would have suggested pursuing the case. Your attorney would have very likely accepted your case on a contingency fee basis. A substantial settlement or court judgment would have resulted in substantial legal fees for your attorney.

You certainly have the right to seek a second and third legal opinion. Another attorney may have a fresh perspective on the case.

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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PERSONAL INJURY
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MEDICAL ERROR
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