When Civil Wrongs Are Criminal Wrongs
When somebody commits a civil wrong (negligent driving, for instance) and, as a result, causes injury to another, there is likely a potential action to be brought by or on behalf of the victim. Sometimes, wrongs which constitute crimes, the action is brought by the government. But as our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Aronberg, Aronberg & Green know, a wrong committed by a tortfeasor also constitutes a crime. In those situations, the incident can give rise to both a civil action (brought by the victim in civil court, with the potential penalty being a jury verdict awarding damages to the plaintiff) and criminal charges (brought by the state, with the potential penalty usually being some combination of fines and/or jail time).
As our personal injury lawyers know, one area of personal injury law which occasionally involves criminal implications is that of medical malpractice. Florida State Statutes Chapter 766 classifies medical malpractice as an actionable tort. On the other hand, Florida State Statute 456.065 states that practicing in a health care profession without a license is a felony of the third degree. Thus, if an individual is harmed by actions carried out by an unlicensed health care provider (including in connection with ongoing treatment with a licensed health care provider), the misconduct can result in civil liability and criminal liability.
Recently, an incident in Palm Beach County illustrates the issue described in this blog post. According to the Palm Beach Post, a Wellington woman went to an orthodontist for a tooth realignment. The orthodontist recommended that the woman stop using Invisalign and start using metal braces. When the patient agreed, the orthodontist referred her to another “dentist” in his office. That dentist disregarded complaints of jaw pain and over-shifting teeth. When it came time for the braces to come off, the patient was complaining even more. She eventually discovered that the dentist to whom she had been referred was actually unlicensed. He was on probation for practicing without a license in Broward. Today, as our personal injury lawyers understand, the patient is suffering from headaches and spasms. She cannot speak for long periods of time. And she cannot properly close her mouth.
Eventually, the patient went to the police. Both dentists were arrested. The licensed dentist was arrested for employing an unlicensed individual to perform dental work. The unlicensed dentist was arrested on charges of practicing dental hygiene without a license. Given the injuries sustained by the patient, it is quite likely that she has a successful civil case. The case would be against the two dentists for the physical and economic harm she has sustained due to their misconduct.