When you go to see a medical professional, naturally, you place trust in their ability to provide you with appropriate treatment and look after you while you are in their care.
However, in some rare circumstances, these professionals can make mistakes that come at a cost to your dental health.
Such mistakes can lead to both mental and physical pain and trauma, which can cause significant disruption and suffering.
If you feel you have suffered dental negligence at the hands of a dental professional, then you may be eligible to bring a claim against the practice, regardless of whether this is private or through the NHS.
To find out more about dental negligence and the different types of dental claims, and to see whether you have the requirements for a claim, keep on reading.
What is dental negligence?
Dental negligence is a term used to describe any form of injury that has been directly sustained through dental treatments and/or procedures.
It also covers any conditions that have worsened due to being overlooked or mistreated by your dental professional.
What are some examples of dental negligence?
The most common types of dental negligence include, but are not limited to:
- Nerve injuries
- Errors in restorative dentistry
- A delay in diagnosis, such as oral cancer
- Cosmetic dentistry mistakes
- Periodontal disease misdiagnosis
- Any mistakes in treatment that caused the avoidable loss or damage of teeth
If a dentist makes a mistake that causes you avoidable pain and suffering, including additional dental fees to repair the damage, then you may have a claim for dental negligence.
Can I claim against my dentist?
No matter where you received your dental treatment, whether this was through a private provider or through the NHS, if you have been caused avoidable harm by this treatment, you can make a compensation claim.
How do I claim for dental negligence?
While the claim process differs for everyone, here is what you may typically expect from the dental negligence claim process:
Obtaining of medical records
To begin, we’ll work with you to obtain your medical records. The dental negligence solicitor will write to the practice(s) in relation to your claim to obtain these records.
While this can be a lengthy process, it is essential when providing supporting evidence for your claim.
A review of medical records (with instruction of an expert)
Once your medical records have been obtained, the next step will be to have these reviewed. These records will be reviewed by the legal representative responsible for your claim.
The expert will then be able to put together a report, outlining any harm you have suffered, and whether you have the grounds for a dental negligence claim.
Examination by a medicolegal expert
Next, an examination is sometimes required by a medicolegal expert to determine exactly what harm you have suffered as a result of the negligence, as well as to provide an expert opinion what treatment might be required to restore your dentition to the state it would have been in had the negligence not occurred.
Letter of claim
Following the review of your records and a thorough examination, a Letter of Claim will be drafted, clearly outlining the allegations of negligence against the dental provider.
Once received, the provider will forward the letter to their insurers, who will than have four months to investigate the allegations made against them. At the end of the investigation period, they must confirm their decision on liability and causation in a Letter of Response
Should the accused provider agree with your allegations of dental negligence, then negotiations will begin to settle your claim.
If your dentist admits liability for your claim, your legal representative will value your case, and work with you to settle on a level of damages that represents fair compensation for the avoidable pain, suffering and loss of amenity you have experienced. No compensation amount is guaranteed – it is entirely dependent on your unique situation and the injury/damage sustained.
For example, if extensive restorative dentistry is required to rectify the mistake of the dental provider, then your compensation sum may be larger.
The amount of damages you may be entitled to is made up of the following components:
- Compensation for avoidable pain and suffering – this award is to compensate any pain you have suffered as a result of the negligent treatment.
- Compensation for out of pocket losses and expenses – If you have incurred any financial losses as a result of your negligent treatment, this can be included as part of your claim. This includes any future dental treatment that might be required to restore your dentition to the state it was in before the negligent treatment occurred.
Should the defendant deny any accusations of dental negligence, or refuse any settlement negotiations, then you may have to take the matter to Court. Should this need arise, you will receive full representation and support from the legal expert working on your case.
With a specially trained dental legal advisor to hand, your case will be dealt with the utmost level of care and professionalism.
Are there any time constraints for making a dental negligence claim?
In ideal circumstances, if you feel you have a dental negligence claim, you should seek legal advice as soon as you can.
However, you have three years from the date of the incident to start a claim, or from the date you first became aware that your treatment might have been negligent.
You cannot pursue a claim once the Limitation period has expired.
There are, however, some exceptions to this rule, which are as follows:
- If you are making the claim on behalf of someone who does not have mental capacity, then the three year Limitation period does not start running until they regain capacity.
- If you are claiming on behalf of a minor (a child under the age of 18) the Limitation period does not start to run until the child turns 18. As soon as they turn 18, the three-year time limit will then start to run, and they will have until their 21st birthday to bring the claim.
We encourage you to being your claim forward to dental negligence solicitors, such as the team at Smith Partnership, as soon as possible.
How long does a dental negligence claim take?
As with any claim, the time it takes to complete the claim entirely depends on your own individual situation, such as the severity of trauma you have suffered, or whether the Defendant admits liability or not.
Typically, however, dental negligence claims take anywhere from a few months to many years to settle.
We aim to deal with cases as quickly and as swiftly as we can to reduce any extra stress and trauma that may arise, while striving to achieve the optimal outcome for you.
Why do you need the help of dental negligence solicitors?
Navigating a dental negligence claim on your own can be a time consuming, complex, and lengthy process.
Get in touch with the team at Smith Partnership today to find out more about how we can support you with your dental negligence claim.