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NY Attorney from different practice area needs basic advice on how to handle a demand letter and what to include

Brooklyn, NY |

I have a small dental malpractice case based primarily on misdiagnosis and unnecessary pain and suffering and punitive damages. As this practice area is new to me, I am hoping someone who has been on the receiving end of mentorship might be kind enough to give some guidance as to the following questions:

1. should the initial demand ltr be on my letterhead or be from my client?

2. to what extent should the ltr detail my client's claim?

3. should the ltr include a settlement #?

4. as the claim is relatively small, should the ltr offer to resolve the claim without involving the def's insurance co? w/ respect to this, does it make any difference if the letter is sent under the client's name or my name?

5. should i have a cert of merit before sending the ltr?


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Attorney answers 3


There should be an initial letter to the dentist/insurance company stating that you are representing the client. When you have assembled all the medical records and bills and know the extent of the damages, only then should you send out a demand package detailing everything and asking for a specific amount. Dental malpractice claims generally are not very lucrative, and if you file, you may end up spending more on costs than you may recover. Good luck.

The answer does not create an attorney/client relationship and is for informational purposes only.

Lassen Law Firm
1515 Market St #1510
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Licensed in PA & NJ. 29% Contingency Fee. Phone: 215-510-6755



I beg to differ about the lucrativeness of dental malpractice. As more dentists are taking those weekend seminars to learn how to surgically implant screws in the jaw and maxilla, the more chances there is of MAJOR malpractice suits. That is not simple low-cost dentistry; actually, very little is nowadays. Oral surgeons charge anywhere from $300 to $75,000 for services, and insurance accepts the billings. Patients, however, may not tolerate the end results because they're totally effed up! The patient cannot eat, often cannot swallow; and the dental malpractice can exacerbate pre-existing medical conditions terribly. It costs, many times over $200k, just to fix dental negligence/error and dentists/oral surgeons of ONE procedure! should be paying for them, NOT the patients - half of whom are ill-informed if informed at all! And don't forget the misdiagnoses, disease undiagnosed but existing at treatment time, improper medications (contraindications), permanent nerve damage, lack of oversight on other illnesses/diseases the patient may have, and finally permanent disfigurement and death. As dentistry becomes more sophisticated yet its educational curve has not kept up, we have people getting seriously harmed, for life if not for years UNLESS lawyers start educating themselves about the very real damages that poor or outright bad dental care creates. These men and women who are doing the bad deeds? GOTTA PAY! We need better educated attorneys about dental malpractice. It IS worth megabucks to a) get everything repaired/fixed (IF it even can be!), b) repay the insurance company back from the original treatment(s), c) pay you and d) punish them at the licensing level in any state. We haven't even talked about pain, suffering, and all that! The ONLY way these people learn to stick to what they were taught in dental school and forget the fancy surgical techniques that NO ONE can learn in less than 12 hours of instruction is to sue their pants off! It's the ONLY thing that gets their bloody attention - just like doctors and hospitals! They fear NOTHING but ... losing money. Greed. Plain and simple. Hit'em where it hurts the most and they WILL straighten up their acts, or ... they'll move somewhere else and try again.



Shhot! I forgot about sinus prefs, caries left under crowns and fillings, overuse and abuse of antibiotics, ... the list is actually VERY long and if it involves any of those pre-existing medical conditions? Katy bar the door.


Avvo is a resource for clients, not for lawyers. That said, I would urge you not to pursue this matter. Your questions indicate you have no clue, and you are not going to learn enough from an Avvo answer to do a competent job. Send the client to a lawyer who is familiar and experienced with dental malpractice cases. As Mr. Lassen has pointed out, you are not going to make any money on a small dental malpractice case anyway, but more importantly, this is a highly specialized practice area. Assuming an adjuster even responds to a claim letter- not a likely scenario- a lawyer inexperienced in the field is not going to have a much better chance than a pro se to get a decent settlement for the client.

Any opinions stated in response to Avvo questions are based upon the facts stated in the question. Responses to Avvo questions are for general information purposes only, and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice.


No. I do not accept the premise that this posting was made by an attorney. The reason I do not accept this is that I handled my first dental malpractice case within the first year of graduation from law school when the ink was still wet on my degree, and I knew all of the answers to these questions. I went on to try the case before a jury despite the fact that the insurance company defense attorney was a seasoned experienced malpractice defense attorney.

Retain an attorney. If no attorney will accept the case, it is because experienced malpractice attorneys know the elements of a legal claim. Medical malpractice law comes right out and states that there is no recovery for merely a 'bad result'.

When you say you have a malpractice case based primarily on misdiagnosis, this means that you have a written medical narrative signed by a dentist.

Andrew Daniel Myers

Andrew Daniel Myers


The last sentence of paragraph 1 should have indicated that we won the case.



Didnt sound like an attorney to me either! Good eye. When an oral surgeon performs an "overly aggressive alveoplasty" and leaves no maxilla for any kind of implant or denture, then we have a major problem. The bone must be replaced so the patient has a base FOR the new artificial teeth/dentures. And when said surgeon does it at a SLANT ... oh boy! Ain't we got fun?! He was supposed to do a removal of two maxilla canine bony projections. Instead ... well, I've got a case. I DON'T have an attorney though because up here in Alaska, most attorneys have admitted, they just do not know enough about it. It's a new field to them - and its partially medical and partially dental. It's time consuming IF you don't know dental, but once you do - easy peasy. Most settle. People HAVE to be able to masticate, swallow, provide themselves nutrition, hydration - without choking half to death, OR to death, as has happened. When you say I need a "written medical narrative signed by a dentist" don't you really mean a "written dental narrative written by a dentist?" ... or SEVERAL from both dentists AND oral surgeons?

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