Tom Wianecki leads the Firm’s dental malpractice defense unit. Mr. Wianecki has tried over 25 dental cases before juries. Those matters have involved a wide range of claims, such as lingual nerve injury, TMJ damage, failed restorative work, alleged unsuccessful orthodontic treatment, and claimed death from medication/anesthetic.
The Firm specializes in “quick strike” strategies to bring closure against our clients as rapidly as possible. This emphasis usually results in considerable cost savings to both the insurance carrier and client. Wesierski & Zurek LLP has specifically trained associates and paralegals in dental matters to effectively handle any size case.
Mr. Wianecki has represented dentists with high profile celebrity patients as well as practitioners seeing Denti-Cal patients. Our past clients include California dentists in practice from San Luis Obispo to National City as well as Santa Monica to Palm Desert. We have handled dental malpractice cases in all portions of southern and central California.
The Firm is very proud of its overall trial record. This success has been particularly strong in the dental malpractice field.
10 Things Every Potential Dental Malpractice Plaintiff-Patient Should Know
1. Suffering a bad or unfavorable outcome at the hands of a dentist doesn’t automatically mean there has been malpractice. There must be a deviation from the standard of care as established by the reasonable, ordinary, prudent dentist.
2. Your attorney does not establish standard of care. You as the patient cannot do so. Only another dentist can establish the requisite standard of care.
3. Your expert witness should be a good communicator. In addition, he or she should be willing to review the case, confer with counsel, give a deposition, and come to a trial. The best experts are not the most expensive experts. Your attorney should have both a comfortable and cost effective working relationship with the expert witness.
4. Your lawyer should have prior experience with other dental malpractice cases. The attorneys who regularly work in this area are relatively small. We all know one another. The insurance carriers with this book of business are also small in number. Carrier representatives are knowledgeable and experienced. Hence, you need someone who can successfully interface with them.
5. The statute of limitations in dental malpractice claims is 1 year, not 2 like a car accident. The 1 year runs from when you knew or should have known of the malpractice.
6. You should not go to court with an attorney over a small or relatively minor matter. Small claims has the jurisdictional limit of $7,500. No lawyers are allowed. Superior Court cases can be expensive and stressful.
7. Professional negligence policies of insurance have consent provisions. If the dentist so elects, he or she can insist that a case go all the way to trial. 5% of all cases filed are tried. 95% are not. In today’s economic environment, insurance companies often urge the dentist to settle as a cost savings matter. Professional malpractice policies are renewed yearly. Non-renewals are more common now than in prior years.
8. The California Dental Board has a reporting limit of $10,000 for any settlement or award. California is the only state with such a reporting limit. It is not unusual for smaller cases to settle at $9,999 (to officially not be reported).
9. Filing a Dental Board complaint will not help you win or lose a court case. While there is some overlap between the two venues, they differ in several important aspects. A Board matter is looking for any violation of the Dental Practices Act. Standard of care is the focus of court cases.
10. Serious dental injuries and death are capped at $250,000 for non-economic loss (that is, pain and suffering). There is no limitation of recovery for economic losses such as remedial dental treatment and/or lost earnings.