Culpable Conduct Defense in Dental Malpractice Cases in NY

What is the culpable conduct defense?

Dental malpractice plaintiffs will face several challenges in bringing a successful claim for injuries suffered due to a failed root canal, bad extraction, botched dental surgery, and the like.  One potential defense that plaintiffs should anticipate is the culpable conduct defense.  In some cases, a patient’s culpable conduct could result in apportionment of fault against the plaintiff, reducing your damage award.  Negligent conduct on the part of the patient could have significant negative consequences for your dental malpractice claim.

Culpable Conduct Defined

Culpable conduct can constitute many behaviors.  Culpable conduct includes any negligent behavior on the part of the patient that leads to dental injuries or worsening of a dental condition.  Potential instances of culpable conduct include:

  • Failure to provide a complete medical history;
  • Failure to adhere to follow up care instructions;
  • Lying about the cause of dental injuries or the nature of your injuries;
  • Taking any actions to aggravate your dental injury;
  • Poor home care/oral hygiene.

If the defendant raises an affirmative defense of culpable conduct, it will become critical for the plaintiff and his or her legal team to thoroughly investigate the matter to combat allegations of negligence.  Evidence that you were not provided with appropriate follow-up care instructions could, for instance, negate any claims that you failed to follow post-treatment instructions.

Comparative Negligence in New York

Under New York law, even if a patient is deemed partly at fault for his or her injury or illness, it is still possible to recover damages.  New York has adopted a system of pure comparative negligence.  Under the law, a patient’s partial responsibility for an injury will not bar their ability to recover from the healthcare provider that caused the injury.  The percentage of the patient’s fault will be equal to the percentage of damages that the patient’s recovery will be reduced.  For example, if your doctor was deemed to be 60 percent at fault, and you were 40 percent responsible, you will recover 60 percent of the damages stemming from your injury.  Contact a New York dental malpractice lawyer as soon as possible after your injury for assistance with your claim.

About the Author
Of all the different areas in medical malpractice, it is podiatry malpractice that has had a particular interest to me. With 42 years practicing law and representing hundreds of victims of malpractice, I have created a law practice in which my clients are comfortable knowing that their case is being handled with my personal attention, in the most professional manner, and without unreasonable delays.