Visitor Question

Dentist left broken file in my mouth…

Submitted By: Gayle (Rockford, IL)

Exactly 11 months ago I had a root canal and went back to the dentist many times with pain, but I was told it just takes a long time to heal.

I just went to a new dentist and the X-ray shows a broken off metal file in the root, in addition to wads of cotton, and an infection.

Now I have to pay $1800 to attempt to fix it. I already paid $2750 for the original root canal. Can I file a lawsuit? How much can I sue for? 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.


Dear Gayle,

From the facts you present, it would appear you have the basis of a viable lawsuit. There is little doubt you suffered needlessly as a result of the dentist’s negligence.

If you want to sue the dentist without an attorney, you would be better off filing suit in small claims court. However, the State of Illinois does not permit plaintiffs in small claims court to recover for pain and suffering or emotional distress.

In small claims court, the best you could hope to recover would be the additional cost to have the tooth properly repaired, out-of-pocket expenses (for medications, costs of travel to and from the new dentist, etc.), and lost wages (if you had to miss work while treating or recovering).

For information about filing a claim in Illinois small claims courts, click here.

You may be able to find an attorney to accept your case. The amount your attorney would be able to recover through a settlement or court award might be anywhere from 7 to 8 thousand to 10 thousand dollars, or perhaps even a bit higher.

Remember though, out of that amount you will have to pay the attorney anywhere from 33.3% to 40%, plus court costs and costs of pursuing your case, including depositions and other pretrial discovery.

Learn more here: Filing a Dental Malpractice Lawsuit

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 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,


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