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Dental Negligence

You never expect when you go to a dentist that you’ll leave with worse injuries – but this can happen.

Although many dentists and hygienists are great at what they do, things can go wrong. Even medical practitioners are subject to human fault, and fault in dental treatment can result in serious pain and suffering.

If you have been injured at the dentist's hospital, as a result of negligence, you might be able to start a compensation claim for dental negligence.

Finding out if you can claim

The most crucial thing following an injury is understanding if you have the right to claim. If you’re unclear or are unsure what your position is legal, a trained legal expert can help. While everyone’s experience varies, there are few questions that you can answer that can help you understand if you have a claim. They are:

1.            Was your fault the result of somebody else’s behavior or lack of action?

2.            Did the incident occur in the last three years?

3.            Are you suffering an injury as a result, or suffering further symptoms or complications?

If you reply yes to those questions, then it’s likely you have a claim and that a legal adviser can help you take the next steps. To know if you can make a claim and to get tailored advice, give us a call on to speak to one of our expert advisors.

Types of dental negligence

The dental error refers to any treatment by a dentist that falls below an expected standard of care and has caused you an injury, such as:

1.            Incorrect or delayed diagnosis (for example, of oral cancer)

2.            Mistakes during cosmetic dentistry

3.            Injury to the nerves in the mouth

4.            Extraction of the wrong tooth

5.            Scarring of the face or mouth

6.            Damage of a root canal

7.            General damage to teeth

Of course, any type of injury or negligence you’ve suffered the result is the same, you’ve suffered pain, a need for more care, and possibly scarred by your experience. This isn’t fair and it might mean long-lasting effects on your physical and mental health.

In case you are worried about the costs of your injury or have been impacted by it physically or psychologically, then a trained legal adviser can put you in touch with a win no fee solicitor who has suffered from dental negligence claims for a free consultation – they’ll be able to recommend you on whether you have a claim, and what your next steps are.

Claiming against NHS dentists

Starting a claim against the NHS can feel like a big deal and a difficult decision to make. But in case you’ve been left in pain, with scarring, or not able to work or have a social life because of it, you have a right to start a claim. Your compensation there is only to cover what you have been through because of your injury, not to give you ‘free’ money.

If you do decide to claim an NHS dentist, then it’s likely they’ll be represented by NHS Resolution. Studies show that 96% of the claims handled by NHS Resolution are settled without going to court, so you generally don’t need to worry about a court appearance.

In case you are still feeling confused, your right to compensation is outlined in the NHS Constitution, where it declares you have the right to:

1.            Complain and to have your claim dealt with efficiently and fully investigated

2.            Learn the outcome of any investigation

3.            Take your case to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, if you’re not satisfied with how your complaint has been handled

4.            Receive compensation if you’ve been harmed via an act of negligence

Claiming against private dentists

You can also start a claim against a private dental clinic if they’ve injured you or failed to diagnose you properly. While, by comparison to a claim made against the NHS, there is no supervise authority, you do still have rights.

For instance, the UK civil court rules require your dentist to reply to your claim within four months in a Letter of Response. This letter should detail whether they admit they are at fault, and as a result are taking a compensation offer, or deny they at fault altogether.

In case the other side do deny negligence, or if your solicitor feels that any offer of compensation is too low, then they will continue negotiations, or the case may need to go to court. It’s uncommon that cases do end up in court, but if your claim does go to court, your solocitor will guide you through every step of the process and be there to represent you.

Proving your claim

Whether you suffered poor care, misdiagnosis, or negligent dental work, the process for claiming dental negligence is the same – this comprises providing evidence that the negligent care occurred. This includes:

1.            That your dentist accepted you as a patient and agreed to give treatment to you

2.            That your dentist violated their duty to you and that other professional in that position would have acted differently

Anyway, don’t worry – your solicitor will be there to help you make sure that there is evidence, and that it’s all collected and presented in a way that supports your claim.

Similarly, before you speak to an expert, a legal adviser will also make sure that your claim is likely to be considered by asking you some questions about your experience.

In case your dentist didn’t tell you your treatment was going to take place or didn’t tell you of the risks involved, then this might also be appraised negligent treatment.

How long does it take to make a claim?

Every personal injury case is unique from one another – this includes a dental error. Because of the complexity of each case, we are unable to tell you how long your claim might take. But what we can say is that your lawyer will work hard to make sure your case is handled quickly.

Normally, your claims get shorter if your dentist accepts liability for your accident. If they deny it, then your lawyer will need to gather more evidence to support your case, which can cause a delay.

When your dentist accepts only partial answerability

In case your dentist, or the person who gave you treatment, only a few responsibilities accept then your solicitor will gather evidence to either prove that this is not the case or negotiate based on this partial responsibility.

Normally, even where you were partly at fault, you can still receive compensation.

Dental negligence involving children

Inadequate dental treatment involving a child can be particularly traumatic and could lead to a long-lasting fear of dentists, which can make the constant pain and suffering the child goes through feel even worse.

If your loved one has suffered negligent treatment whilst at the dentist, you can start a claim on their behalf. You can claim them until they are 18. Otherwise, they can make a claim themselves up to the age of 21.