Visitor Question

Improperly performed root canal required a repeat procedure…

Submitted By: Daniel (Houston, Texas)

Approximately 2 years ago my son’s dentist determined that my son needed a root canal.

He provided a recommendation for a specialist (certified endodontist) in the area to perform the procedure, and we employed the specialist to perform the procedure.

My son moved out of state to take a new job and before he had sufficient time with his new job to qualify for dental insurance, he again had pain with the same tooth. The new dentist also referred him to a new specialist in that state to do a new root canal on the same tooth.

Clearly, if done correctly, a root canal is only required once on the same tooth. He clearly did not do his job. What can he do? Any chance for a recovery from the first specialist for the cost of the second procedure? How about pain and suffering? Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Daniel,

You are impliedly referring to a Dental Malpractice Claim. Like medical malpractice, proving dental malpractice is a very challenging endeavor. Roughly, the legal definition of dental malpractice is “…an omission or commission by a dentist, which falls beneath the dental standard set by other dentists in the community, and which causes undue harm to the patient.”

Proving your case will likely require expert testimony from one or more certified endodontists who will testify the original dentist’s work fell beneath the standard of care in the dental community, and as result, your son was unnecessarily injured, or required additional surgery which would have been unnecessary if the dentist had properly performed the root canal.

Here’s more about liability in medical malpractice cases. Proving a dental malpractice claim requires legal representation by a personal injury attorney with substantial experience in dental malpractice.

Unfortunately, it’s quite unlikely you will be able to find a personal injury attorney to accept your son’s case. There is just not enough money in the case to make it worthwhile for the attorney. In a dental malpractice claim, the advance costs to be expended for specialists, depositions, expert testimony, and more can be exorbitant.

While you can consider filing a small claims lawsuit against the dentist, you will run into the same problem. The dentist presumably has malpractice insurance. That insurance provides to the dentist legal representation when a claim of malpractice is filed. As a result, in a small claims lawsuit it will be your son up against a defense attorney.

While small claims court has more relaxed procedures and is designed for ordinary citizens, an attorney still knows much better than you how to defend a case.

Your son can contact the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners and file a grievance against the dentist. Doing so will likely prompt an investigation into the dentist’s actions.

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

Best of luck,

Published: August 21, 2015

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