Medical Malpractice Lawyer
As with any other type of doctor, orthodontists are capable of making mistakes. As a Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyer from an office like the Wieand Law Firm can explain, when a mistake is serious enough to cause harm to the patient, it is considered medical malpractice. As such, the patient would likely qualify to file an injury claim against their orthodontist with the goal of recovering sufficient compensation to pay for medical care to reverse the mistake, and other damages. “Other” damages vary from case to case but may include pain and suffering.
An experienced medical malpractice lawyer will be able to review the details of their client’s case and determine not only what damages are compensable but also what each damage is worth from a financial perspective. This is important because once the claim is settled, even if the patient suffers additional damages at a later date (perhaps they need additional and unanticipated surgical procedures) they are not eligible to receive more compensation.
Orthodontists are Held to a Higher Standard
Though orthodontists are human and humans make mistakes, doctors are held to a higher standard. That is, they are expected to act competently when treating a patient and to not harm that patient due to negligence or carelessness. As a healthcare provider, orthodontists are specialists who focus on the prevention and correction of tooth alignment conditions and related concerns. If the orthodontist fails to meet the standard of competent care of their patient and it directly leads to an injury, the patient has the right to obtain compensation equal to the damage they suffered.
Meeting the Criteria for a Medical Malpractice Claim
Not every mistake made by an orthodontist is considered medical malpractice. When a lawyer reviews a potential client’s case, they will try to determine if the case has merit. If it does not, the defendant’s insurance company will deny the claim. If the lawyer attempts to pursue a lawsuit against the orthodontist but does not have a case that meets the basic criteria, the court will likely throw it out even before a jury is called upon to hear evidence.
For instance, if the patient had teeth that were severely out of alignment, the orthodontist may have explained from the start that there was a limit as to how perfectly he or she could realign the teeth. If, following the treatment the patient was dissatisfied with how their teeth looked, unless the orthodontist was grossly incompetent, is is unlikely they will be held responsible for medical malpractice.
As a general rule, in any given situation the question will be asked, “How would a similarly trained orthodontist have treated a patient who had a similar condition?” If the answer is that the average, competent orthodontist would have taken a drastically different approach, then the case may have merit.
Another consideration is the degree of harm done to the patient. For instance, if the patient experienced some minutes of discomfort, that is considered normal for many types of dental treatments. On the other hand, if the orthodontist destroyed one of the patient’s perfectly healthy teeth, it would more likely be considered medical malpractice.