Rock in chocolate covered coffee beans damaged my tooth...

by Dawn
(Taylorsville, NC)

I was eating some chocolate covered coffee beans. I bit into one and felt an excruciating pain in my tooth and heard a grinding/squeaking noise. I felt something in my mouth and thought it was a tooth but it was a pebble.

I contacted the company and they called me. They wanted me to send them the pebble and I initially agreed but they failed to follow through with a shipping procedure. After experiencing some pain off and on for about 2 weeks, I went to the dentist and was told that my tooth had been damaged below the gum line.

The dentist wrote a letter to that effect on my behalf. I then took the rock to an archaeologist who examined it and said that it was a piece of quartz. I still have the rock, original packaging, dental report and note from the archaeologist. What should I do?

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Rock in chocolate covered coffee beans damaged my tooth...":

Dawn (Taylorsville, NC):

The letter from your dentist will help your injury claim. However, it is unlikely your dentist’s letter states without doubt your injury was the direct result of your biting down on the piece of quartz. Your dentist would have no evidence of that. He or she wasn't there and would only be able to take your word for what happened.

Moreover, the longer you wait to file your claim, the greater the chance the insurance company will say your injury occurred sometime after the time you know you were injured.

At this point, even if the company were to agree to compensate you for your loss, you would only be entitled to reimbursement for your dental bills, including that compensation required to completely repair or replace your tooth (pursuant to whatever is reasonably expected by dentists for a similar injury).

Additionally, you may be entitled to reimbursement for your out of pocket costs for medications, parking fees, and even a prorated amount for the gasoline used to travel to and from your dentist. You may also be entitled to compensation for your lost wages sustained as a result of your trips to the dentist.

You may be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering, but there is no law requiring the company to reimburse you for your pain and suffering. It is entirely up to them.

If they do offer you an amount for your pain and suffering, it will be quite modest. From the facts you present there is no evidence of any substantial suffering.

Moreover, with the underlying facts, and limited amount of compensation you might receive, it is unlikely you will find an attorney to accept your case. Even if you were to find one to accept your case, the amount in controversy and ultimate settlement would leave very little money left over.

If you aren't satisfied with your own attempts at negotiating a settlement with the company, you can consider filing a lawsuit against the company in one of North Carolina’s Small Claims Courts.

The jurisdictional (maximum) amount you can sue for in North Carolina's Small Claims Court ranges from $5,000 to $10,000, depending upon the county in which the lawsuit is filed. Read the following for more information:

A Citizen's Guide to North Carolina Small Claims Court

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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