I'm not admitted in VA (only in CA), but can offer the following general observations.
In a malpractice case, you first must establish that the medical (or in this case dental) professional(s) acted below the standard of care. That can usually only be established through expert testimony (i.e. in your case, another dentist) willing to say that the treating dentist was negligent by falling below the standard of care. The expert will need to testify that using the 1st procedure that was done was not done within that standard of care.
Secondly, you must establish that the negligence was the cause of harm. In other words, if the condition is something that he would have had to deal with anyway, or if the condition (the result of the 1st procedure) is something that you and the dentist could have reasonably expected or was a known possible outcome, the defense will say that the actions of the dentist were entirely within what was expected, that he did nothing to make your condition any worse than what might have been expected as a possible outcome. That is typically where these kinds of cases falter; the plaintiff may be able to show that the professional made a mistake, but cannot overcome the argument that the mistake didn't do any additional harm. (The defense will often argue at trial that a "bad result does not equal bad medicine.")
The third point is the issue of damages. If the negligence caused you to incur additional injuries, and you had to pay for those additional medical services, those would be your "special damages."
In this case, based on the facts presented, I would find it somewhat difficult to believe that leaving a needle in someone's gums is within the applicable "standard of care" (but, hey, I could be wrong).
The bottom line is that it is virtually impossible in a limited forum like this to say that you do or do not have a malpractice case; that assessment can only be made as a result of a thorough review of the medical/dental records, by a competent med. mal. attorney AND an expert. Thus, I would strongly urge you to seek the advice of a local attorney specializing in malpractice claims to provide you with that more detailed assessment.
Good luck to you!
Disclaimer- The information you obtain at our web-site or through postings on such sites as this is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for specific advice regarding your individual situation. Any response given here is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change.
I agree wholeheartedly with my colleague, Mr. Hurd, regarding his general thoughts concerning your potential case. From a practical standpoint, I would add, however, that you may have to hunt a little for an attorney willing to take your case. Dental malpractice cases are not as lucrative most times as medical malpractice cases, as the damages are typically far less. Although your case may very well have a value, it may not meet the threshold from a financial standpoint that would interest many attorneys. Having spent many years defending malpractice claims, only rarely did a dental malpractice case cross my desk in Texas and Florida – two of the more litigious states in the country. Moreover, from your perspective, while a law firm will typically pay the litigations costs in advance, they are paid back to the firm from any settlement or verdict. Thus, the cost of procuring an expert opinion in the matter will reduce what you ultimately receive, which may seem a lot less than what you at first expected. Thus, I am not discouraging you, but simply trying to make sure that you understand that you may need to put in some effort to find a competent attorney to handle your case and that, in the end, you need to be realistic about your litigation goals. Discuss with the attorney you intend to hire his/her thoughts on value and ask him/her what he/she is basing that assessment upon, i.e., past cases settled/tried, jury verdicts in that jurisdiction, etc. That way you and your attorney can be on the same page. Good luck.
This answer is strictly for informational purposes, and not to be considered legal advice.
It is difficult to evaluate your case based on the information provided. You should find an EXPERIENCED medical malpractice attorney and call for a free consultation.
If this information has been helpful, please indicate below. Daniel Buttafuoco has been voted BEST LAWYER five years in a row and has represented clients all over the United States. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Daniel Buttafuoco strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in order to ensure proper advice is received. www.1800NowHurt.com
Attorney Hurd has provided excellent advise here, and you should call a malpractice lawyer in your state.
Licensed in PA & NJ. 29% Contingency Fee. Phone: 215-510-6755 www.InjuryLawyerPhiladelphia.com
Sign up to receive a 3-part series of useful information and advice about personal injury law.