Just like any other medical professional, a dentist has a duty to prevent harm to patients and treat them using acceptable techniques. When a dentist causes nerve damage by deviating from the acceptable standard of care for the patient’s situation, the dentist commits medical malpractice. Nerve damage is one of the most common reasons for dental malpractice claims. If you or a loved one recently sustained nerve damage from a dental procedure, it is important you speak with an NYC medical malpractice lawyer know your legal options.
How Does Nerve Damage Happen?
Two main nerves in the mouth can sustain serious damage from negligent application of dentistry techniques. The lingual nerve runs across the tongue. Any damage to this nerve may cause lost taste sensations, numb tongue, pain, and altered mouth sensations. The inferior alveolar nerve runs below the bottom teeth and creates sensations in the lower teeth and gums, lower lip, and chin. Dental procedures involving the lower teeth may cause damage to this nerve.
It is important to note that some routine dental procedures may result in adverse side effects for a few days, and this is a typical part of the healing process. However, when nerve damage is long-term or permanent, then the patient may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim. The patient will need to prove that the nerve damage interferes with oral function, negatively impacts taste sensations, or makes it more difficult to eat, drink, or speak to succeed with a claim.
Succeeding with a Medical Malpractice Claim
If you or a loved one suffered nerve damage from a dental procedure, you must first confirm whether the damage is long-term or permanent. Minor nerve damage that heals after a few weeks or months may be a standard side effect of the procedure you had, and would not constitute grounds for a medical malpractice claim. In most cases, it is important to find an expert witness with a relevant background who can determine the scope of the damage you sustained and whether the dentist who performed the procedure deviated from the acceptable standard of care.
It is also vital to confirm that your claim meets the applicable statute of limitations. Every state upholds a statute of limitations or time limit for filing medical malpractice claims, and this window is typically two to four years. The statute of limitations usually begins on the date the harm occurs but some factors may toll or delay the start date. For example, if you underwent a dental procedure but the symptoms of nerve damage did not appear for several weeks, the statute of limitations would begin when you discovered the harm.
Damages and Compensation
A medical malpractice lawsuit for nerve damage from a dental procedure can lead to several types of compensation. If your injury required corrective procedures or otherwise led to additional medical expenses, you can claim these expenses as damages in your lawsuit. You can also claim lost wages if your recovery required you to miss work.
It is also possible to secure compensation for your pain and suffering. Nerve damage can cause severe physical pain as well as psychological trauma. Imagine losing your sense of taste and the ability to enjoy your favorite foods. What price would you place on your sense of taste? Although some states place caps or limits on the amount a plaintiff can receive in pain and suffering compensation, these damages tend to be significant in medical malpractice claims.
If you are unsure whether you have grounds for a medical malpractice claim against a dentist for nerve damage, find a medical malpractice attorney in your area and schedule a consultation. Once the attorney understands the facts of your situation, he or she can recommend the best course of action and give you an accurate idea of what to expect from the lawsuit process.