Shaked Law Firm attorneys, Sagi Shaked and Cory Lapin, recently settled a dental malpractice action for the dentist’s insurance policy limits of $1 million. This action arose from a jaw fracture during a wisdom tooth extraction.
When Shaked Law Firm was first approached to handle the case, nearly every dental expert told them that the injuries were unfortunate, but were not a result of negligence. This did not deter Mr. Shaked and Mr. Lapin from pursuing justice on behalf of their client.
The defendant was a general dentist who claimed to specialize in teeth cleanings and extractions. The plaintiff presented to the dentist’s office with a painful and impacted wisdom tooth. Given the level of impaction and the location of the tooth, this was no routine extraction for a general dentist. The defendant did not hesitate, however, and proceeded to extract the tooth. In the process, the dentist broke the plaintiff’s jaw and destroyed a major nerve running along the jaw. Since then, the plaintiff underwent multiple jaw surgeries and still has not fully recovered.
Throughout the litigation, the dentist and his insurance company claimed that a jaw fracture was a known risk and that the dentist performed the procedure properly. During discovery, Mr. Shaked and Mr. Lapin discovered that the dentist had minimal, if any, training in wisdom tooth extractions despite advertising himself as an expert in performing them. They also learned that most general dentists like the defendant would have referred the plaintiff to an oral surgeon due to the complexity of the case.
Given the wisdom tooth’s impaction and location, the proper way to perform the procedure--or the standard of care--was to break the wisdom tooth into sections and then remove the wisdom tooth piece by piece. All along, the dentist and his insurance company claimed that the dentist did exactly that. They even hired prominent experts to support their position that the dentist did everything properly.
However, Mr. Shaked and Mr. Lapin were able to prove that instead of breaking the tooth into sections, the defendant improperly attempted to remove the wisdom tooth as a whole. In doing so, the defendant put far too much pressure on the plaintiff’s jaw and broke it.
According to Florida law, a medical malpractice defendant’s insurance company cannot be responsible to pay more than the insurance policy limits unless it should have offered the policy limits and chose not to within 210 days after being served with the lawsuit.
Prior to the expiration of the safe harbor period for bad faith, the defendant and his office’s insurance company tendered the $1 million insurance policy limits. Shaked Law Firm is proud that it got justice for its client.