Can my dentist bill me one year later after the final service as revenge for my complaint to an insurance company and Dental Board? I took a root canal treatment from my last dentist S one year ago. But several months later, my inflammation came back and even worse. My new dentist Z told me that my inflammation is all caused by the incorrect root canal treatment which was done by S. But S denied that. After that, I got a dental surgery for my tooth from a specialist. Delta Dental denied this claim since they believe this surgery shouldn’t take within 12 months after I just took a root canal treatment last year. I made a complaint about my failed root canal treatment to both Delta and DBC. Delta said they cannot determine my case is malpractice. Then the S sent me a bill for a copy of last year’s treatment. I remember she told me I already paid off all my bills last year. Do I need to pay that bill? Can I trust Delta?


The California Law provides that a claimant is entitled to recover the reasonable value of all medical expenses that have been incurred, and that are reasonably certain to be incurred in the future, as a result of the injury. [Howell v. Hamilton Meats & Provisions, Inc. (2011). Ordinarily, tort liability cannot be established unless plaintiffs can prove their injuries resulted from thetortious acts of a particular defendant or defendants. As a general rule, the burden of proof as to negligence (duty and breach) and causation rests upon plaintiff; and plaintiff does not meet this burden simply by demonstrating that one of several defendants could have been responsible. [See Sindell v. Abbott Laboratories (1980) 26]. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. These are situations in which, for policy reasons, the burden effectively shifts to defendants to absolve themselves from responsibility or to show that some other defendant or event caused the injuries. The conditions for res ipsa loquitor are that the accident is of a kind which ordinarily does not occur in the absence of someone’s negligence, that the accident was caused by an agency or instrumentality within the defendant’s exclusive control, and that the accident was not due to any voluntary action or contribution on plaintiff’s part. [Newing v.Cheatham (1975)]. The use of res ipsa is especially suited in cases of “egregious” medical or dental malpractice where “the unwitting and often unconscious or semi-conscious patient is at an evidentiary disadvantage because of his or her inability to demonstrate what occurred in the hospital or surgical room setting.” [Blackwell v. Hurst (1996)].

The appropriate standard of care required of a medical professional is not a matter of common lay knowledge. Therefore, except in cases of “egregious” medical negligence, expert medical testimony is required in medical malpractice actions to establish the standard of care required of a physician or other health care provider under the circumstances. [See Flowers v. Torrance Mem. Hosp. Med. Ctr. (1994) ]. Although alleged misconduct may have increased plaintiff’s previously existing risk of illness or injury, plaintiff cannot prevail on a negligence cause of action unless he or she demonstrates a reasonable probability (i.e., a greater-than–50% chance) defendant actually caused plaintiff’s injury. If the injury would have likely resulted in any event, it cannot be legally attributed to defendant. [Whiteley v. Philip Morris Inc. (2004)]. Moreover, evidence that a medical bill has not been paid can be introduced to show that the charges were unreasonable. (The inference is that if plaintiff had agreed with the bill, he or she would have paid it.) [See Latky v. Wolfe (1927)] However, nonpayment may be due to other reasons (e.g., P simply could not afford the charges) and plaintiff should be prepared to testify accordingly. It would be best to seek personal assistance from a lawyer in order to help you with your personal injury claim.

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