California Appeals Court Holds Dental Patient’s Claim Barred By Statute of Limitations
A patient sued a dentist for dental malpractice, alleging that his negligence in performing a dental implant procedure permanently damaged a nerve in her jaw. He moved for summary judgment based on the one-year limitations period that Code of Civil Procedure section 340.5 establishes for all professional negligence claims against health care providers. The trial court granted the motion and entered judgment against the patient. The Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed.Section 340.5’s one-year limitations period starts when the plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered both her injury and that someone’s wrongdoing likely caused it. The patient testified she felt an electric shock as the dentist drilled the socket for her implant, and she immediately thought he had done something wrong. On the next day, she returned to his office to complain about the pain.