As in any legal case, an expert witness service can help provide you with the right type of testimony that can support your claim. When a medical issue is involved, using a medical expert witness can help simplify complex issues for both you and a jury to understand. A medical expert can also help you assess the quality of your case before it even goes to trial and the value of the claim if one does exist. If the medical issue at hand is related to a dentist’s work, then you can benefit from the advice from a dental expert witness.
One of the threshold issues medical expert witnesses can help you resolve is identifying whether the dentist in question has violated the duty of care owed the patient. Many dental malpractice claims never go before a judge because the medical expert can establish that any duty of care was breached.
Often, dental malpractice claims are based on a patient’s dissatisfaction with the outcome of a procedure, which is a very different issue from malpractice. Any quality expert can help you distinguish between dissatisfaction and a failure of care.
In the scheme of these types of claims, there are four basic areas in which a dentist has a duty of care. These areas are general dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, TMJ therapy, and implant dentistry.
In general dentistry, a dentist owes a patient care that is reasonably prudent and would be expected of any dentist under similar circumstances. The same standard applies to cosmetic dentistry since it is not considered a sub-specialty by the profession.
Implant dentistry is likewise not yet considered a recognized sub-specialty, but it has been acknowledged that special training is required. So if the malpractice claim is based on a implant dentistry procedure, you will want to know about the specific training and practice background of the dentist in question.
TMJ therapy, designed to address Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems can sit between the reasonably prudent duty of general dentistry and some showing of expertise as with implant dentistry. While also not considered a sub-speciality, TMJ therapy can be complex and many dentists can make wild claims about their ability to resolve this issue. So a dental expert witness will usually explore the specific claims and practical results of the dentist mentioned in the claim to assess whether the duty of care was violated.
Assuming the dental expert witness can establish for a claimant that a dentist did in fact breach the duty of care owed the patient, the next step is to help the attorney quantify the claim. Very few dental medical malpractice claims ever actually result in an award to the patient, so you can use help to assess whether the potential award for the breach of care is worthwhile relative to the legal expenses.
Any physician expert witness should be prepared to address and be well experienced to handle both duty of care you should have received from your dentist relative to the service you were provided as well as the size of award you might reasonably expect. So discuss both needs with any dental expert witness with whom you meet.