Claiming Compensation From a Dentist for Negligence
Going to the dentist can be a scary experience. 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 hurt in the dentist’s chair, you should look into making a claim for dental negligence compensation.
Gathering evidence to make a dental negligence claim
It makes no difference whether you were a victim of inadequate care, misdiagnosis or careless dental work. The process for proving dental negligence is the same. Your dental practitioners owe you a duty of care to provide the correct treatment and to perform this treatment in the correct manner.
You must be able to prove, first, that the dentist or hygienist owes you this duty. This means that he or she has accepted you as a patient and/or has agreed to provide treatment. Next, you must show that the dental professional was in breach of this duty and that, given the same circumstances, other professionals in similar positions would not have acted in the same manner. This can be proven by expert testimony from those knowledgeable in the field of dentistry and other medical professionals. Once you’ve proven that your dentist was in breach of duty, you must show that this breach directly resulted in your harm.
At Claims.co.uk we can put you in touch with an no win no fee solicitor who has experience in dental negligence claims. Having been through this before, he or she will be able to advise you on how to prove a breach of duty and gather the right evidence to increase your chances of success.
The length of the claims process
The length of the claims process greatly depends on whether or not the defendant admits or denies liability. The time will shrink drastically should your dentist admit guilt right away. On the other hand, if he or she denies blame, the legal process will take longer, and a number of court appearances may need to be scheduled, meaning you can definitely expect a longer claims process.
Again, after speaking with a qualified personal injury lawyer, they will be able to provide you with an idea of the timeframe you can expect for your claim to settle.
Types of dental negligence
In simple terms, dental negligence consists of any treatment which falls below an expected standard. Specific problems which might arise when receiving dental treatment include the following:
- Incorrect or delayed diagnosis – particularly serious where oral cancer is concerned.
- Mistakes during cosmetic dentistry.
- Injury to the nerves in the mouth.
- Extraction of the wrong tooth.
- Scarring of the face or mouth.
- Damage of a root canal.
- General damage to teeth.
No matter what the details of the actual negligence are, however, the general principle is the same. In years gone by, courts would apply something called the Bolam test, which involved deciding whether the treatment provided had fallen below the standard that might reasonably be expected from someone working in the field. In recent years, however, the definition of negligence has shifted somewhat, to take into account cases in which, for example, a patient wasn’t kept fully informed by their medical practitioner of the risks involved in the treatment. The dentist, in other words, might claim that the treatment represented a ‘reasonable’ risk, but their lack of disclosure may well mean you are able to claim compensation.
Claims against NHS dentists
If you make a claim against an NHS dentist, then they will usually be represented by the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA). Figures show that 96% of the claims handled by the NHSLA are settled without even going to court.
Your right to compensation following negligence on the part of an NHS dentist is actually enshrined in the NHS Constitution, which also details the following rights:
- The right to complain and to have your claim dealt with efficiently and fully investigated.
- The right to learn the outcome of any investigation.
- The right, if you’re not satisfied with the way in which your complaint has been handled, to take your case to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.
- The right to receive compensation if you’ve been harmed via an act of negligence.
You can also, of course, make a claim against a private dental clinic, and in both cases the process will be the same. Our injury solicitors will help you:
- Request and bring together the records of your treatment.
- Undertake an assessment of both your current condition and the details of your case, carried out by a qualified dental practitioner.
- If the assessment indicates that you have been a victim of negligence then our solicitors will begin building your case. This will include details not only of the treatment you received and of how it fell below the required standard, but also of the impact it has had on your life in physical, psychological and financial terms.
- The dentist will then be informed, via a ‘Letter of Claim’ that you intend to seek compensation.
- The UK ‘Court Rules’ state that your dentist will have 4 months to reply in a ‘Letter of Response’, in which they will either admit blame and make an offer of compensation, or deny fault altogether. If they do deny negligence, or if we feel that any offer of compensation is too low, then further negotiations will take place, or the case may well go to court.
Get free, expert legal advice about your claim
Our personal injury solicitors will be able to take on your dental negligence claim on a no win no fee basis. This is a conditional agreement between the client and solicitor which stipulates that you will not be responsible for any expensive legal fees upfront.
This is a great option for those injury victims who deserve access to legal representation, but aren’t in the position to take on the financial risk. After all, you’ve already been through enough and you shouldn’t have to worry about money, too.
If you have any questions about dental negligence or no win no fee solicitors, don’t hesitate to fill out our no obligation online claims form. You’ll be one step closer to getting the compensation you deserve.