Going to the dentist can be a daunting experience. The last thing you expect when you go to a dentist is that you’ll leave with worse injuries – but this can happen.
Although most dentists and hygienists are great at what they do, things can sometimes go wrong. Even medical practitioners are subject to human error, and errors in dental treatment can result in serious pain and suffering.
If you’ve been injured while visiting the dentist, as a result of negligence, you might be able to make a compensation claim for dental negligence.
One of the most difficult things following an injury is understanding if you have the right to claim. If you’re feeling confused or are unsure what your position is legally, a trained legal adviser can help. While everyone’s experience varies, there are some questions that you can answer that can help you understand if you have a claim. They are:
If you answered 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 find out if you are able to make a claim and to get tailored advice, we recommend calling an adviser for free on 0800 234 6438, where you can have a no-pressure chat about your case.
Dental negligence refers to any treatment by a dentist which falls below an expected standard of care, and has caused you an injury. Included in this are experiences such as:
Of course, whatever type of injury or negligence you’ve suffered the result is the same, you’ve likely been left with pain, a need for more treatment and possibly scarred by your experience. This isn’t fair and it might mean long term effects on your physical and mental health.
If you’re worried about the costs of your injury, or have been impacted by it physically or psychologically, a trained legal adviser can put you in touch with a no win no fee solicitor who has experience with dental negligence claims for a free consultation – they’ll be able to advise you on whether you have a claim, and what your next steps are. You can call an adviser on 0800 234 6438 for free to get some advice now.
Making a claim against the NHS can feel like a big deal and a difficult decision to make. But if you’ve been left in pain, with scarring or unable to work or have a social life because of it, you have a right to make a claim. Your compensation there is only to recover what you have lost for your injury, not to give you ‘free’ money.
If you do decide to make a claim against an NHS dentist, then it’s likely they’ll be represented by NHS Resolution. Figures show that 96% of the claims handled by NHS Resolution are settled without going to court, so you likely don’t need to worry about a court appearance.
If you’re still feeling doubtful, your right to compensation is outlined in the NHS Constitution, where it states you have the right to:
You can also make a claim against a private dental clinic if they’ve injured you or failed to diagnose you properly. While, in contrast to a claim made against the NHS, there is no overseeing authority, you do still have rights.
For example, the UK civil court rules require your dentist to reply to your claim within four months in a Letter of Response. This letter must detail whether they admit they are at fault, and as a result are making a compensation offer, or deny they at fault altogether.
If 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 very rare that cases do end up in court, but if your claims does go to court, your solicitor will guide you through every step of the process and be there to represent you.
Whether you suffered inadequate care, misdiagnosis or careless dental work, the process for claiming dental negligence is the same – this includes providing evidence that the negligent care occurred. This includes:
However, don’t worry – your solicitor is there to help you make sure that there is evidence, and that it’s all gathered and presenting in a way that supports your claim.
Equally, before you speak to an expert solicitor, a trained legal adviser will also make sure that your claim is likely to be considered by asking you some questions about your experience.
If your dentist didn’t tell you your treatment was going to take place, or didn’t warn you of the risks involved, then this might also be considered negligent treatment.
Every personal injury case is unique – this includes dental negligence. Because of the complexities of each case, we can’t tell you how long your claim might take. But what we can say is that your solicitor will work hard make sure your case is handled quickly.
Typically, your claims will be shorter if your dentist accepts liability for your accident. If they deny it, then your solicitor will need to gather more evidence to support your case, which can cause a delay.
If your dentist, or the person who gave you treatment, only partially accepts responsibility then your solicitor will gather evidence to either prove that this is not the case, or negotiate for your compensation based on this partial responsibility.
Typically, even where you were partly at fault, you can still receive compensation.
Poor dental treatment involving a child can be particularly traumatic and could lead to a lifelong fear of dentists, which can make the immediate pain and suffering the child goes through feel even worse.
If your child has suffered negligent treatment whilst at the dentist, it is possible for you to make a claim on their behalf. You can make a claim for them until your child is 18. Or they can make a claim themselves up to the age of 21.
To start a claim on behalf of a loved one, or for yourself, you can get in touch with a trained legal adviser on 0800 234 6438 or fill in the simple online form.
Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.
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