Succor Consulting, LLC

"Succor = Help When You Need It - Anywhere"

Harold Nemetz, D.D.S., A.M.Ed.
Call: 707-465-1453

Dr. Harold Nemetz is a dental expert witness assisting both Plaintiff and Defense attorneys with General and Prosthetic Dentistry matters.

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Dental Expert Witness

What is an EXPERT WITNESS?

An expert witness is someone who is recognized by a court as an authority on a topic who has knowledge beyond that accessible to the average person. In order to be accepted as an expert witness, the witness must generally present his or her qualifications on the stand so that the judge and jury understand what sets the witness part from other witnesses. Rather than testifying on legal matters, expert witnesses provide factual information and analysis which may be beneficial to a case.

Expert witnesses will have experience, training, skills, and education which are not common to the general public. A dentist, for example, is usually treated as an expert witness on the stand because not everyone has the benefit of a dental education and experience in practice as a doctor. Many expert witnesses provide scientific and technical information.

Some  expert witnesses provide testimony, which is usually given after the witness has reviewed the relevant material and assembled factual information. These witnesses can be questioned by both the defense and the prosecution, and the opposing side may opt to bring in an expert witness of its own to rebut the testimony of the original witness.

Other expert witnesses may offer fact finding services without testifying.

Generally, the more qualified someone is, the more desirable he or she is as an expert witness. Example: a Dentist held in high esteem and a professor at a University dental School or institutions which set the standards in the area of expertise are generally more sought after, as are witnesses with ample publications to their names

Qualifying an Expert

The attorney offering testimony of an expert witness follows certain legal formlisms to have the expert’s testimony accepted in court and, must first establish that the expert witness has the proper (‘specific’) qualifications.  The expert witness must assert familiarity with the treatment of patients with the plaintiff’s complaint by dentists. The testimony must be tailored for the situation whether testifying against a generalist or specialist and whether any competent dental generalist  or specialist should have avoided the defendants error or if the general had a duty to refer the patient to a more skilled dentist e.g., board certified specialist.  The expert should have an extensive background.

RETRIEVING INFORMATION:  The information I can retrieve from my memory and wisdom banks allows me to make succinct accurate decisions concerning the areas of dentistry I have experienced.

The following is where I retrieve a lot of information:

  • For the past 12 years: I have been a working dentist and Director of two Rural Health Clinics (one of them ‘Federally Qualified’) treating 20-30 patients per day (400-600 patients/month) and “managing other dentists and staff.”
  • A Private Clinical Practice 30+ years limited to operative, restorative, and prosthetic dentistry with multiple Dentist associates  and staff in my office.
  • Continually referring to, working with, and consulting with all Dental Specialties’
  • Achieved an Advanced Master’s Degree in Professional Education, USC 1977 [AMEd]
  • Post Doctoral Teaching at Universities & Continuing Education [Approximately 6000 hours]

Teaching: Post Graduate (post-doctoral) ‘Residency Teachings’:

  • College of the Redwoods, Dental Health Center, Eureka, California (2009->)
  • University of California, San Francisco; (2006->)
  • Loma Linda University: Professor: Teaching Advanced Operative Education/Restorative Dentistry (post-doctoral students) 10+ years. Teaching International Dentistry (students were graduate Dentists). 10+ years post-doctoral teaching
  • University of Southern California: Associate Professor: Teaching Advanced Prosthodontics’ Education 15+ years while concurrently being Director of Product Evaluation

What is a “Professional”?

“PROFESSIONAL” DEFINITION:

“The privilege to be accorded professional status rests primarily in the knowledge, skill and experience with which you serve your clients, patients and society. Therefore you have the obligation of keeping your knowledge and skill current”.

A professional works to receive payment for an activity (as a professional), which usually requires expertise and caries with it socially significant mores and folkways. That is to say, behaving professionally would indicate the person’s actions remain in accordance with specific rules, written or unwritten, pertaining to behavior, dress, speech, etc. By extension, the adjective professional can indicate that someone has great expertise or skill in a craft of activity.

Publications: “Peer- Refereed” vs. “Non-Refereed”

Refereed Materials are publications reviewed by the journal staffs professional ”expert readers” or”‘referees” prior to accepting the article for the publication of the material. After reading and evaluating the material, the referee informs the publisher if the document should be published or if any changes should be made prior to publication.

Refereed materials are also referred to as Peer Reviewed. Refereed materials are significant to the research and the literature of most academic fields because they assure readers that the information conveyed is reliable and timely.

Non-Refereed Materials such as Trade Journals or Magazines use less rigorous standards of screening prior to publication. In some publications, each article may be only screened by the publication’s editor. While knowledgeable, no editor can be an authority on all the subject matter printed in a professional journal.

Other non-refereed publications accept almost anything submitted in order to have something to print. The term “scholarly materials” is often used to describe refereed materials, but this term is not exclusive to refereed material. Non-refereed materials may not by scrutinized as intensely as refereed materials, but they can still be considered scholarly.

ALL OF THE PUBLICATIONS LISTED IN MY CV ARE REFEREED.

Dental Negligence: What Is It?

Dental  negligence, like all forms of negligence, stems from a failure to exercise reasonable care.  Negligence is a facet of common law tort law.  The specifics of what is required to prove negligence vary by jurisdiction, but the general premise is that a person failed to act with the care and up to the standards that wider society would consider reasonable.  In dentistry, negligence usually relates to treatments that have gone bad, misdiagnoses, or injuries caused by a failure to abide by “standard” industry practices.  Any failure of a dentist to deliver safe and standard care can constitute dental negligence.

Not all dental injuries trace their roots to dental negligence.  Negligence Law does not penalize unavoidable damage or injuries that were sustained despite a dentist’s best efforts.  A dentist can only be liable for negligence if he somehow acted in a way that was below the reasonably expected standard, or if he acted in disregard of industry practice guidelines or regulations.

Dentists are medical professionals, and  they are held to certain standards of expected care.  They are expected to properly diagnose dental conditions and to thoroughly finish all dental procedures.  The exercise of care in examinations and surgeries, and the prescription of appropriate and reasonable medications and home treatments all fall within the purview of dentists.  Failure in these or other areas can open a dentist up to a dental  negligence lawsuit.

There are many types of negligence, and any dentist can be a negligent dentist.  Most negligence cases are marked by a patient injury.  A patient who feels immense pain after a routine dental procedure or a patient who feels that a dental condition was not properly treated may hire a dental negligence lawyer to investigate the possibility of suing for dental negligence. A lawyer considering such a case will seek to understand the nature of the patient’s suffering, and to discern the cause.  If the cause was related to some action or inaction on the part of the dentist, there may be grounds for a negligence suit.

Most of the time, dental negligence cases are brought as dental malpractice cases.  Most jurisdictions include negligence within medial malpractice.   Regardless of the theory under which the case is brought, it will center on a failure to provide competent or otherwise reasonable care at some specific moment.  Because mistakes happen and dentists sometimes get it wrong, dentists usually carry  malpractice insurance that will cover the costs of a negligence lawsuit and indemnify the dentist against any personal liability.

What is Dental Malpractice?

Dental malpractice is a form of professional negligence where a dentist does not provide an adequate standard of care for a patient, and the patient experiences harm as a result. Patients can sue for damages, collecting funds to pay for any necessary medical treatment as well as pain and suffering the patient may have experienced. Dentists and other medical professionals carry malpractice insurance to help them respond to suits and cover any damage awards.

Dentists are held to a high standard of professional care because they receive advanced training and professional certifications, and clients expect their dentists to provide appropriate treatment. A dentist who injures a patient by failing to follow standards and practices of the industry, maybe committing professional malpractice. Mistakes, even if not intentional, can be grounds for a dental malpractice suit if a patient can show that the dentist didn’t exercise due care.

Dental malpractice can potentially leave patients with very high medical bills. They may need additional surgery to correct unfinished or inappropriately formed procedures. It is also possible to experience complications that may result in chronic disease and other problems. A dentist may, for instance, extract the wrong teeth, forcing the patient to get more extractions to pull the correct teeth and causing permanent discomfort for the patient. In some cases, it can even be fatal, in which case survivors of the patient would file suit to recover compensation for the loss of a family member.

Dentists use numerous procedures to keep their patients safe and maintain safe working conditions at their clinics. These include properly training staff, using informed consent for procedures, and interviewing patients carefully to collect a full medical history. Even with these measures, dental malpractice is a risk, and most dentists carry insurance so that in the event of a suit and damage award, the insurance will pay.

What is a Dental Expert Witness?

A dental expert witness provides testimony and information in legal proceedings on dentistry matters. As with all expert witnesses, dental expert witnesses explain concepts or interpret facts with knowledge that the average person does not possess. Used in both civil and criminal courts, dental experts usually testify about dental records, forensics, or other specialty areas in the field.

Attorneys also employ dental expert witnesses in criminal trials. In cases where dental evidence is important.  In more complex criminal cases, a forensic dental expert, for example, may be called in to testify about human remains where identification of a victim is only possible through dental records.

While the term dental expert witness implies that the expert will testify in court, this is not always so. Some dental experts simply provide background information for attorneys or provide a written, sworn statement about the evidence in a case, or give testimony in an out-of-court deposition.The expert may also help by suggesting specific lines of questioning. The expert also may provide dental examinations or interpret records, and attorneys will use the information in court without necessarily calling the dental expert to testify in person.

To become a dental expert witness:

  • A person must first earn a dentistry degree and
  • have a credible/comprehensive curriculum vitae

Opposing attorneys often call qualifications and experience into question in order to undermine testimony, so dental expert witnesses must build a solid professional resume. Thorough and accurate testimony also is a requirement, as attorneys will use any previous dishonesty or inaccurate testimony to undermine the credibility of the dental expert

 

Patient Education: Informed Consent

Patient education is often overlooked.  Just because the patient does not ask questions about the proposed treatment does not mean they understand what is going to be done and accept the treatment.

INFORMED CONSENT: includes identifying and educating the patient about the following six components.

  1. The “dentist” must present all treatment options.
  2. The “dentist” must discuss the advantages of each option.
  3. The disadvantages/limitations of each option must be talked about. 
  4. The risk of each option should be identified and adequately discussed.
  5. The cost of each option must be furnished.
  6. The outcomes of no-treatment should be discoursed.

The dentist/clinician is responsible for providing informed consent (education) to each patient and for each proposed treatment AND there are a variety of ways to do this including:

  • a well trained staff
  • visual aids
  • software and video programs, e.gs.,computers, TVs/DVDs, iPads or portable tablets.

Holistic Dentristy

The Holistic Dental Network defines the field as: “an approach to Dentistry that promotes health and wellness instead of the treatment of disease. This approach to Dentistry encompasses both modern science and knowledge drawn from the worlds great traditions on natural healing. Holistic Dentistry acknowledges and deals with the mind, body, and spirit of the patient, not just his or her “Teeth”.

Holistic dentistry may also be called alternative dentistry/ unconventional dentistry, biologic dentistry/ biocompatible dentistry emphasizing approaches for which is supposed to consider the patient’s dental health in the context of their entire general physical and/or emotional and/or also spiritual health in some cases. This is part of the alternative health movement.

Although the holistic dental community is very diverse in its practices and approaches, common threads include:

  • strong opposition to the use of amalgam
  • root canal fillings and,
  • nonsurgical approaches to gum disease.

Many practices and opinions among alternative dentists are criticized by the mainstream dental community.

What is a Dental Specialist?

What is a Dental “Specialist”?
A specialty is an area of dentistry that has been formally recognized by the American Dental Association as meeting the specified Requirements for Recognition of Dental Specialties. The responsibilities of the different areas of specialization, the requirements and other information can be found below. Currently there are nine dental specialties recognized by the ADA.

  • Dental Public Health:
    Dental public health is the science and art of preventing and controlling dental diseases and promoting dental health through organized community efforts. It is that form of dental practice which serves the community as a patient rather than the individual. It is concerned with the dental health education of the public, with applied dental research, and with the administration of group dental care programs as well as the prevention and control of dental diseases on a community basis. (Adopted May 1976)
  • Endodontics:
    Endodontics is the branch of dentistry which is concerned with the morphology, physiology and pathology of the human dental pulp and periradicular tissues. Its study and practice encompass the basic and clinical sciences including biology of the normal pulp, the etiology, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases and injuries of the pulp and associated peritadicular conditions (Adopted December 1983)
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology:
    Oral pathology is the specialty of dentistry and discipline of pathology that deals with the nature, identification, and management of diseases affecting the oral and maxillofacial regions. It is a science that investigates the causes, processes, and effects of these diseases. The practice of oral pathology includes research and diagnosis of diseases using clinical, radiographic, microscopic, biochemical, or other examinations. (Adopted May 1991)
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology:
    Oral and maxillofacial radiology is the specialty of dentistry and discipline of radiology concerned with the production and interpretation of images and data produced by all modalities of radiant energy that are used for the diagnosis and management of diseases, disorders and conditions of the oral and maxillofacial region. (Adopted April 2001)
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery:
    Oral and maxillofacial surgery is the specialty of dentistry which includes the diagnosis, surgical and adjunctive treatment of diseases, injuries and defects involving both the functional and esthetic aspects of the hard and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial region. (Adopted October 1990)
  • Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics:
    Orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics is the dental specialty that includes the diagnosis, prevention, interception, and correction of malocclusion, as well as neuromuscular and skeletal abnormalities of the developing or mature orofacial structures. (Adopted April 2003)
  • Pediatric Dentistry:
    Pediatric Dentistry is an age-defined specialty that provides both primary and comprehensive preventive and therapeutic oral health care for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health care needs. (Adopted 1995)
  • Periodontics:
    Periodontics is that specialty of dentistry which encompasses the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the supporting and surrounding tissues of the teeth or their substitutes and the maintenance of the health, function and esthetics of these structures and tissues. (Adopted December 1992)
  • Prosthodontics:
    Prosthodontics is the dental specialty pertaining to the diagnosis, treatment planning, rehabilitation and maintenance of the oral function, comfort, appearance and health of patients with clinical conditions associated with missing or deficient teeth and/or oral and maxillofacial tissues using biocompatible substitutes. (Adopted April 2003)

Dental specialists are Dentists who:

  • have previously undergone the prescribed Dental School/University education necessary to become general dentists (3-4 years)
  • graduated and received a diploma
  • they had been accepted for post-doctoral education in an ‘ADVANCED EDUCATION PROGRAM’ or ‘POSTDOCTORAL PROGRAM’
  • receives a ’GRADUATE DEGREE’ or ‘CERTIFICATE.’

Various programs prepare students (dentists) for careers as researchers, academics and specialists among many other possibilities so as to complete at least two additional years of training to become experts in a particular specialty of the Dental profession (usually at a Dental School in a University).

Even though they have been previously trained in the practice of general dentistry, most dental specialists practice only within their (new) specific field of expertise. Patients seen by dental specialists are generally referred by general dentists to receive care for complex oral health issues that are beyond the scope of their general dentistry practice. THE “DENTAL SPECIALIST” IS BOARD ELIGIBLE UPON COMPLETION of the post-doctoral education program AND, is CERTIFIED as a DIPLOMAT OF THE SPECIALTY BOARD if a successful examination has been complete.

You can be a licensed practicing SPECIALIST without ever passing the boards. The big pressure to take the ‘specialty board exams’ comes from insurance companies, third party payers and hospital administrators, who are more likely to pay better or promote someone who is board certified.  Until you have passed the specialty board and become a Diplomat, you are ‘board eligible.’

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Client Testimonials

You were so very helpful during my trial and I am grateful to you for it.
- Sheri A. Cooley


You may shred the records.
You were very very helpful and also fun to work with.
- Lori M. Bencoe,
Bencoe, LaCour & Wood Law, P.C.


Your knowledge and comments in reviewing this matter are the type of honest approach we appreciate in an expert witness. Moreover, the research material you forwarded is quite interesting in light of the facts of this case.
Again, thank you for reviewing the case and agreeing to serve as an expert.
- Pieter Teeuwissen,
Danks Teeuwiessen & Associates


I retained Dr. Harold Nemetz as a dental expert in _ v.USA. The case hinged on whether Mr. Unin's dentist exercised the degree of care ordinarily exercised during a tooth extraction. Dr. Nemetz took pains to educate me on the nature of teeth and gums and relevant standard of care, all of which helped immensely. And during his trial testimony, he presented as professional, knowledgeable, unbiased and forceful.
I would recommend Dr. Nemetz to other personal injury attorneys as he is very approachable, engaged and knowledgeable. He was an asset to our case.
- Michele Brown,
Power & Brown, LLC