While the public may be more familiar with medical malpractice claims involving a hospital or physician, these types of claims are also available against other medical professionals who do not offer treatment with the requisite standard of care, including dentists. Dental injuries can be very painful, and often the damage may only be repaired by placing a crown on the tooth, a root canal, or even removing the tooth.
Dental malpractice claims require the same legal elements be proven as with other medical malpractice claims. The plaintiff will be required to show “(1) the proper standard of care for the defendant [dentist]; (2) an unskilled or negligent failure to comply with the appropriate standard; and (3) a resulting injury proximately caused by the physicians’ failure of skill or care.” Jinkins v. Evangelical Hospitals Corp., 336 Ill. App. 3d 377, 382 (1st Dist. 2002). Generally, expert testimony will be required to establish the applicable standard of care and a breach of that standard of care. The Illinois Supreme Court explained that because laypersons do not generally understand medical procedures or treatment, expert testimony is required to aid members of the jury, as well as the judge. Addison v. Wittenberg, 124 Ill.2d 287, 297 (1988). The only exceptions to this requirement occur when the treatment is very common or the act which causes the injury is “so grossly negligent” that members of the jury would be able to evaluate the conduct with their own knowledge and experiences. Id.