You always hated your crooked teeth when you were a kid, so the first thing you did as a grown up was see an orthodontist. The relationship started out great but now you believe your orthodontist did a terrible job on your mouth. What can you do?
You can sue an orthodontist as you would any other medical care practitioner, but your suit will only succeed if you can prove medical negligence. There must be more to the story than just dissatisfaction with the results you got. A negligence claim in a medical context is called medical malpractice. Here is how it’s established.
Medical Malpractice Elements
Negligence has four elements: duty, breach, causation, and harm. In regular negligence cases, duty can be difficult to establish. Not so in medical malpractice. An orthodontist has a duty of care to a patient, so what is left in that regard is to establish what that duty is in the specific circumstances, and that helps establish the next element, breach.
You have to prove that the orthodontist breached the duty of care owed to you, or fell below the level of care of a reasonable practitioner in the same or similar circumstances. If you do that, the first two elements of negligence — duty and breach — have been established.
Next you much show causation and harm. Your orthodontist has to be the cause of the harm you experienced, a harm that you are quantifying in your lawsuit with a damages claim. In other words, if something completely unforeseeable happens and causes you some damage, but it’s not actually the fault of the orthodontist, then you won’t have a valid claim even if you were injured.
Similarly, if you claim injury but in fact you are just unhappy with the results of a cosmetic medical treatment, that case is also not going to succeed. Medical malpractice is more than just dissatisfaction on the part of the patient — it’s a claim to make when you have been treated negligently and your health care practitioners treatment of you results in an actual injury caused by their failure to uphold reasonable standards of care.
Talk to a Lawyer
If you have been injured by a medical practitioner of any kind, an orthodontist or anyone else, speak to a lawyer. Medical malpractice cases are complex and you will need help. Many injury attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to assess your case.
- Have an injury claim? Get your claim reviewed for free. (Consumer Injury)
- Get Legal Help With a Medical Malpractice Issue (FindLaw’s Learn About the Law)
- Medical and Helath Information (FindLaw’s Learn About the Law)
- Information for Your Lawyer: Medical Background (FindLaw’s Learn About the Law)