Dental Negligence Claims
At some point in our lives, many of us will require the attention of a dental professional. In the vast majority of cases, dentists provide a very high standard of care and help us feel better. However, things can and do go wrong and, when they do, further corrective treatment – usually expensive and even painful – may be required. Whether it be misdiagnosis, incorrect treatment or incompetency, dental negligence can have a devastating impact on the health of a patient.
What Is Dental Negligence?
Dental negligence is the breach of duty of care on the part of a dentist or a medical professional who specializes in dentistry, that results injury to a patient.
Every dental professional is expected to place the health and wellbeing of their patients at the forefront of all their actions. When a mistake or mishap occurs and a patient suffers harm as a result, this can have severe and long-lasting effects, including permanent facial disfigurement. Therefore, as is the case with any form of medical negligence, dental negligence claims are taken very seriously.
Types of Dental Treatment
Tooth extraction involves the complete removal of the tooth from the mouth, and may be required for different reasons, ranging from crowded teeth to tooth decay.
Gum disease usually starts with the build-up of plaque and, if not properly treated, could lead to bad breath, bleeding gums, and even tooth loss as a result of destruction of tissues surrounding the teeth.
These are surgical fixtures in the jawbone designed to provide a strong foundation for the teeth. Dental implants must be done by specialist dentists as things could easily go wrong.
Root Canal Treatment
Root canal treatment is aimed at repairing infected or badly damaged tooth instead of removing it. It involves cleaning of the canals inside the root of a tooth and removal of dead or dying material to save the tooth.
There are different cosmetic dental procedures available today. Prior to accepting any form of cosmetic treatment, it is important that you understand the risks involved as well as its possible outcome.
What Types of Negligent Treatments Can Lead to a Dental Negligence Claim?
Dental negligence generally fits into one or more of the following categories:
Delayed or incorrect diagnosis can cause irreparable damage. For instance, if a dentist fails to identify gingivitis, this can cause the patient’s gum to weaken and make for unhealthy teeth. If your dental condition has been misdiagnosed and you have suffered harm as a result, our dental negligence solicitors can help you make a claim against your negligent dentist.
Your dentist’s level of skill and experience plays an important role in the quality of care they provide. If a dentist has failed to properly adhere crowns and bridges, wrongly applied veneers, or failed to adequately prepare a cavity before filling it, they may be deemed negligent. Inadequate care on the part of a dental professional can leave a patient requiring further treatment, which also means longer than necessary recovery period.
Lack of Informed Consent
Every health professional must seek the consent of a patient before carrying out any procedure. Consent involves more than just getting the patient’s signature. It also means ensuring a patient understands the risks and potential results of a procedure; it is also about making sure the patient knows about alternative therapies, if any.
Failing to seek a patient’s informed consent can be a ground for a compensation claim, particularly if the procedure does not go to plan.
If something goes wrong with the administration of local or general anaesthesia during a surgical procedure and causes harm to a patient, there may be grounds for a compensation claim.
Incorrect Surgical Procedure
Whether you are undergoing a dental implants or reconstructive surgery, you may be entitled to a dental negligence claim if you have suffered harm during the surgical procedure.
This list is not exhaustive, as there are dental negligence cases outside this framework. When you contact us, our dental negligence solicitors will let you know whether your dental professional has acted negligently.
How Common is Dental Negligence?
Historically, the UK records under 10,000 dental negligence cases each year. However, our specialist solicitors have noticed a rise in these figures in recent years, particularly due to the fact that more persons now seek dental care and there are more dental care experts today.
The increasing popularity of cosmetic dentistry is also responsible for the rising number of dental claims made. This is not surprising. Cosmetic dental procedures are also becoming more invasive, with reconstruction of gums, teeth and jaw bones now common. Therefore, it is now likely that experts in the dental care sector make mistakes that lead to serious injury.
Whether you have had an elective or emergency procedure, or you simply had a routine checkup, you may be able to make claims for dental negligence if your dentist has caused you harm.
Am I Entitled to a Dental Negligence Claim?
There are two key criteria that determine whether an individual can make claims for dental negligence:
- You have suffered harm as a result of negligence
- Your injury was avoidable and was a result of error on the part of a dental professional.
If your dentist took reasonable steps to protect you from the injury or you received negligent treatment but suffered no harm, it is unlikely you will be awarded compensation.
Making Dental Negligence Claims
If you are considering making dental claims, do not hesitate to get in touch with us. We will offer a free, no obligation consultation with one of our dental negligence solicitors. During this consultation, we will discuss details of your case to capture all the facts about the negligent treatment you suffered.
Armed with the facts, our solicitors will let you know whether you have a good chance of making a successful dental negligence claim.
What Evidence Do I Need to Prove Dental Negligence?
As a claimant, it is your responsibility to show that your dentist has breached his/her duty of care towards you, causing you harm. First, you must show that the dentist agreed to take you as a patient. Other supporting evidence for your claim may include:
Obtaining your medical records is the first step. The dental negligence solicitor assigned to your case will write to the NHS body responsible for your care. Obtaining dental records may take a few months, but is a crucial step towards determining whether you suffered negligent treatment.
Independent Medical Opinion
Once we are able to obtain your records, they will be reviewed by an independent medical expert who will prepare a report based on these records. The report will provide a detailed assessment of your situation and let us know whether you have been a victim of dental negligence, as well as the extent of damage suffered.
We will also take relevant witness statements to establish negligence. On your part, however, evidence such as a personal diary about how your injury impacts your life, records of calls/correspondence between you and your dentist can be helpful in supporting your claim for compensation. You can count on us to support you in obtaining relevant information to create a strong and undeniable claim on your behalf. The better prepared your initial claim application is, the more likely that there will be a favourable outcome.
How Do I Make a Dental Negligence Claim Against the NHS?
Understandably, many people hesitate when it comes to taking legal action against the NHS. However, if your dentist has acted negligently, you need to keep in mind that you won’t be suing the NHS as a body, but the dentist who made the mistake.
Our dental negligence solicitors will draft a detailed “Letter of Claim” on your behalf; this letter will set out your concerns as well as what you hope to achieve. Your dentist will have four months to respond via a “Letter of Response”. If they admit liability, our solicitors will negotiate a compensation on your behalf. The compensation award you will receive will depend on the nature and severity of your injury, as well as the impact of the injury on your life.
What Can I Make Claims for After Dental Negligence?
Compensation for dental negligence involves tangible and intangible costs. While some costs like medical bills are pretty easy to calculate, others – like placing monetary value on pain and suffering – are not so simple. Compensation is divided into two parts:
General Damages: This is compensation for the direct impact of the injury, such as the pain, suffering, loss of amenity and psychological trauma.
Special Damages: This compensates for financial losses incurred as a result of dental negligence. Some examples of special damages include:
- Medical expenses – If you have paid for ongoing care following your injury, you may be able to make a compensation claim.
- Travel costs – If you have incurred out of pocket expenses due for travel for medical appointments or anything related to the negligence you suffered, you may be entitled to compensation.
- Loss of earnings – If you have cut your work hours short or missed work due to your injury, you may be entitled to a compensation. In the same vein, if the injury will likely affect your ability to work in the long-term, then you can make claims for future estimated losses.
These are the most common types of damages. If we think your case doesn’t fit into one of these, we will let you know how to go about a claim.
Keep in mind that it is impossible to determine a specific compensation amount at the start of your claim. However, our solicitors will be able to give you an idea on how much you can expect as details of your case becomes clear.
Can I Continue Dental Treatment While My Case is Ongoing?
If you have started a dental negligence claim but require dental care to treat your injury, this treatment must take priority. However, if the dental treatment you want is an elective procedure, such as having a cosmetic surgery, this may interfere with crucial evidence.
Our specialist medical negligence solicitors at nhsnegligenceclaim.com can advise you on the best steps to take when it comes to preserving vital evidence for your claim.
Is There A Time Limit for Making Dental Negligence Claims?
There is a strict three-year time limit for general medical negligence claims, and this also applies to dental treatments. You usually have three years from the date that the negligent treatment occurred or the date that you became aware that your injury was due to negligence.
Exceptions to the three-year time limit involve children under the age of 18 (the 3-year time limit begins from their 18th birthday) and those who have suffered a mental illness as a result of the treatment (the time limit begins from when they recover).
If you are unsure about the time limit for your case, our dental negligence solicitors can provide the guidance you need to make informed decisions every step of the way.
No Win No Fee Dental Negligence Claims
If we believe you have been a victim of dental negligence, our specialist solicitors will likely offer you a No Win No Fee agreement.
This agreement helps to minimise the financial risk associated with making a medical negligence claim. You would not have to pay any upfront legal fees and if your case is unsuccessful, you will not pay us anything. If your claim is successful, a success fee will be deducted from your final compensation award. This means that when our solicitors agree to work with you, they shoulder all the risks that come from pursuing a claim because they believe there is a reasonable chance of success.
You can trust us to seek the highest possible compensation for your claim, because we will not receive any payments if you are not successful.
How We Can Help with Your Dental Negligence Claim
We work with a panel of specialist solicitors who will team up with you to capture all the facts of your story. Following our free, no obligation meeting with you, our solicitors will be able to determine whether there is a good chance for success. Whatever their recommendation may be, we will furnish you with the best advice concerning your claim.
If our solicitors decide to take on your case, we will do everything possible to negotiate an out of court settlement with the alleged negligent party. If it is in your best interest to go to court, we will also advice you on the next steps. In any case, you can trust us to prioritise your interests to ensure you get justice for the mistreatment you endured at the hands of your dentist.
Q: What happens if a dentist makes a mistake?
If a dentist makes a mistake, you may suffer injuries or your existing condition could get worse. In this case, making dental negligence claims can help to right the wrongs done to you. First, you may want to make a complaint to the NHS before proceeding to make a claim for compensation. If your dentist is deemed negligent, you will receive compensation for the injury you suffered.
Q: Can I sue my dentist for bad implant?
Yes. You can sue your dentist if his/her actions or inactions during your dental implant fails to meet the reasonably acceptable standards. If you have suffered pain, injury, or there was an implant failure due to a poorly performed dental procedure, our dental negligence solicitors can guide you on how to pursue a claim for dental negligence.
Q: Do dentists make mistakes?
Yes. While most dentists provide a very high standard of care to their patients, mistakes can and do happen occasionally and a patient can suffer harm as a result or even require further dental work to correct the mistake. Some of the most common dental mistakes include misdiagnosis, injuries to the gum, jaw, teeth and failing to obtain informed consent before starting a medical procedure.