I developed my TMJ a month after I received a lot of dental work done including fillings, crowns, and a root canal. The root canal was my first and I was not given nitrous after being told I was. I found this out later when receiving the crown and having actual nitrous I got incredibly sick.
My theory is that the crown did not fit properly and knocked off my bite giving me TMJ because my jaw was then shifted to the left 5mm to compensate for the newer bite. A month after the work was done I was in excruitiating pain, suffered severe vertigo, anxiety, depression, and lost all my things paying for doctors trying to figure out what was wrong and all the while they simply treated me like a drug addict.
I'm not wanting some outrageous settlement but enough to cover all expenses that incurred as a result of poor dental work. Has anyone tried pursuing legal action because of this? how did it turn out and is it a wise idea? Thank you.
Hi--19 yrs. ago when i developed tmj I tried to sue my orthodontist. Unfortunately, I had waited too long and I couldn't legally do anything. (Time limitations on legal action had lapsed) I'm obviously not a lawyer, but if you have documentation from other dentists saying that you did indeed develop tmj from the crowns and such, go for it. I don't know how much of this reply can be posted without it being deleted, but I think that dentists should be held accountable for their actions, especially if they have caused something as debilitating as tmj dysfunction, they should be held accountable, No question. It is worth it to get a consult from a good lawyer. Most will do the consult free of charge.
Last edited by moderator2; 12-07-2009 at 07:59 AM.
Reason: please do not quote when you are the first to reply
I have no idea I'm afraid, but I applaud anyone who goes down this road, especially with success. I think that this kind of action not only holds those responsible accountable but it also raises awareness of TMJD and might make dentists think twice before carrying out uneccessary dental work.
My only advice is act quickly if you're going to act on this because there are time limitations as jmitchell said regarding when you can take out a legal pursuit of a medical nature.
I tried some. I was told that the med. cases are the hardest from all but among them dental cases are the hardest to win. I completely agree that the luxury life of dentists who make lots of $$ causing our long-term misery should be shaken to say the least.
Yes, do smth if you can! For all of us!
I'd suggest that first, you collect all that you have in regards to this case: write down all the visits with him, dates, what was done, x-rays, models of your teeth. If you don't have ask him in the polite form to mail them to you. We are eligible for all this (except for the photos if he took some but ask them anyway if he did). Then write down all you remember about your symptoms and all that you have from the next dentist (models, his conclusion, etc,)
Only when you prepare everything you can think of contact a lawyer and mention all that you have.
Otherwise, he/she might just tell you general facts like:
if you didn't have any permanent damage caused which you can prove this is not the case.
Many med. lawyers simply reject you as soon as they hear "dental case".
Good luck! Please, do not postpone as it was mentioned.
Go for it! The statues of limitations vary a lot from state to state. But it is also can be counted from the moment you knew what he did wrong.
In theory I could even sue the dentist who messed up my bite (and later my disks) in 1990 b/c I only learned about this not long ago, but I don't have enough proves for the case.
I hate to be the ultimate pessimist and I am not saying you should not at least look into it and consult with a lawyer but based on my experience its often very hard to concretely prove without a doubt that a dentists' work caused your problem. And its often hard to find dentists willing to go to court and tesitfy on your behalf against a professional colleague - most will not want to get that involved although many will freely offer their opinion in their own office. And for every "expert" witness you can hire to tesitfy on your behalf (that the crown caused this) the dentist's malpractice lawyer will call just as as many expert witnesses to refute their testimony. All the dentists I have been treated by agreed that my replacement bridge work caused my tmj yet only one felt confident enough and was willing to testify on my behalf. And since tmj is such a grey area to begin with both sides could argue their sides until the cows come home which - if a jury is requested - could then leave issue up to them - assuming the case doesn't get dismissed on some technicality.
However there is also a good chance this would not even get to court - often casese like these in which a lawsuit is filed requires that both parties meet and take testimony from each other (depositions) and then go thru arbitration or mediation in hopes of a settlement out of court so if all you are seeking is reimbursement of the fees you paid the dentist and not add'l damages then seeing a lawyer would still be a good idea - it could force the defendent to settle out of court and make the issue go away. Also many of the lawyers I consulted with wanted a $1K to $1.5K retainer fee paid up front and their fee for winning was between 30-35% of the amount awarded (the amt the dentist is sued for).
Sorry if this wasn't the answer you were looking for - but I am just trying to keep it a bit realisitc - I am not saying its impossible only that its harder and more intricate than tv shows lead us to believe. Its can sometimes end up seeming like the legal system was not written to protect innocent people - there are just so many loop holes and technicalities that can end the whole case.
Last edited by Thelma-Louise; 08-18-2009 at 10:31 PM.
I personally believe that there is a special place in Hell for all the so called tmj specialist who have taken our life savings and ruined our joints, damaged discs, and left us in complete messes and then say it's our fault you didn't get in sooner, or that has nothing to do with your tmj....that's not something I did to you....Whatever...It's called Charma, my friend. Right back at ya.
Last edited by moderator2; 12-07-2009 at 07:59 AM.
Reason: please don't leave huge quotes in your messages
I have to agree with Thelma Louise. I did check into legal action. It is really difficult to prove. In my case, the lawyers who reviewed my case determined it couldn't be proven and I never tried any other lawyers. The good news is that the law firm did not charge me, many personal injury ones will not unless they collect.
The dentists, endondontist, oral surgeons are all referring patients to each other and part of a "good old boys" club. Though some might comment off the record I feel sure none of them would have in court. I did see a neurologist who probably would have. Some medical doctors believe that dentists can do damage.
A friend of mine did collect a fortune - her jaw problems were caused by a car accident and she sued the truck driver who hit her. It took a long time but she won!
I can relate to you oh too well - in January 2007, I had all four of my impacted wisdom teeth extracted and it is believed malpractice occurred. I was under IV sedation, so the oral surgeon was the one opening my mouth. We believe that he hyperextended my jaw/opened my mouth too wide, dislocating both of the discs in my TMJs.
Prior to the procedure, I had no TMJ problems and had never experienced jaw pain, clicking, popping, etc. However, even after healing from the extractions, I remained in excruciating pain and my mouth barely opened at 4mm. It also opened extremely deviated to the left. We pointed all of this out to the oral surgeon, specifically asking him about TMJ, but he kept testing other theories. It actually took my science teacher at the time, a retired dentist of over 10 years, to diagnose the problem. One day, he asked me to open my mouth because he knew I was still in pain and it had been a month at that point. When he saw the deviation, he asked me to open my mouth more slowly, then looked at me very concerned, put his arm around me and simply said, "You're going to be okay, you're going to be okay." Immediately, he emailed my mom that he believed at least the left disc in my TMJ was displaced, and that he believed I needed to be sedated and have it manually manipulated into place (basically, arthrocentisis). He was right. However, both of the discs were displaced, just the left disc was worse. That's how easy it was to diagnose - anyone with some dental knowledge could tell what was going on just by seeing me open my mouth (so there could be a failure to diagnose aspect to my case). Since then, I have lived in chronic pain, on pain killers and muscle relaxants 24/7. I have three surgeries in NY and six other surgical procedures under IV sedation (2 of which were local in D.C., the other four up in NY), and I am getting my fourth surgery in NY in 2 weeks from today - bilateral open jaw surgery to remove my discs and replace them with abdominal fat. My condyles are flat and my bones are degenerating (so I've been diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my jaw), and due to this and my terrible pain, I've been told that I will need bilateral joint replacement in the somewhat near future.
We have sought legal advice, given the obvious cause and effect of wisdom teeth extracted ---> jaw bilaterally dislocated. Because of how much surgery and other expensive treamtents I've needed, a lawyer has taken interest in my case, so we've been working with him. My medical records currently sit with an "expert" oral surgeon out-of-state (according to my lawyer, it's very hard to find doctors who will speak on the plaintiff's side of malpractice cases, and because I live in a very liberal and affluent area, when these cases go to court, 8/10 times the jury sides with the doctor because so many people are family or friends with doctors/dentists). Because the odds are obviously against us and dental malpractice is so difficult to prove, the lawyer needs the expert to give him a very confident stamp of approval that malpractice happened and that this case will win. If we get that, the lawyer will have the expert write up something that states why/how he believes malpractice happened, and my lawyer will also write up our claim. Then the lawyer will file these with the court, and the case will be official.
In your case, I looked this up for you, and the statute of limitations for MEDICAL malpractice in the state of Alabama is 4 years. The poster below wrote 2 years, which is true for all professional malpractice in Alabama (which usually includes medical), but it's actually 4 years for specifically medical in Alabama. So, your case must be filed with the court (meaning you'll liking need an expert testimony in writing along with your lawyer's claim) by April 2010. I will warn you though, you may get turned down by many lawyers; they're taking on a huge risk with each case because if they don't win, they don't make any money, they actually lose a lot of money. Everything Thelma-Louise said is spot on from what the lawyers have told us, and it hurts to hear it when you feel like a "victim of malpractice," but it's the truth. Malpractice cases are nothing to be taken lightly. I don't want to sound like a hypocrite as my family is involved in a case right now, but my incident had a very obvious cause and effect result (wisdom teeth extraction to both TMJ discs dislocated...something had to have happened while I was under, and doctors have agreed with us). Yet, even we don't know if this will be proved because like Thelma-Louise said, the defense will bring in a ton of experts to pick at every little thing you have to say against that doctor.
One thing to do would be to ask the doctors you're seeing now is if they could give you a copy of your records with them (which is the very first action the lawyer will make if there's any interest in your case) so you can make sure they're accurate. The first TMJ specialist I saw had some inaccuracies in my records. For example, the records said I was a diabetic, which I'm not, but more importantly, they said things suggesting I had a strong family history of TMJ, which is not true. That's something that the defense would attack, so if you know what your records say and what the lawyer and his expert are going to be finding, you'll be in better shape (so if there's an error or anything, you can warn them). Sometimes I wonder what would be worse - not pursuing the case at all, or going through it and losing. Or even, if it would be worse just being told by the lawyer that the expert didn't see malpractice and that they don't want my case. You might want to keep that in mind and think about everything Thelma-Louise said because it's so true. If seeing a lawyer would give you some peace of mind, you should - pretty much all of them will see you for free, if they have some interest they'll collect all of your medical records and get an expert's opinion free of charge as well. I wish you the best of luck and please let me know how everything goes!