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When seeking professional dental advice you are entering a relationship that relies heavily on trust. A sense of wrong can emerge when that trust is betrayed, or if your dental professional makes a mistake that leads to worsened symptoms. Long-term pain and discomfort can also arise from dental negligence, which can make it difficult to fulfil daily duties. In cases like these, you would be entitled to make a dental negligence claim against your dentist for compensation.
As such, dental law requires dentists to keep you safe with a ‘duty of care’ that they must adhere to. This legal obligation means that all patients must be given a reasonable level of care and that any chance of harm is avoided. If the ‘duty of care’ has not been adhered to and you believe negligence has resulted in you sustaining a personal injury, we can provide the help you need to make the situation right.
Our legal team specialises in dealing with accident and personal injury claims only. We have been providing legal services in the UK since 1988 and are accredited through the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, as well as The Law Society and, are regulated and authorised by the SRA.
If you believe that you have sustained a dental injury and are ready to make a claim, or if you need more advice on how to make a claim, we can help you. For impartial advice without any cost to you, you can contact Smith Jones Solicitors on 0800 195 95 90 for expert assistance on all dental negligence claims.
Types of Dental Claims
There are three different categories that most orthodontist or dental claims can be separated into. The first is diagnosis – this covers instances of failure to act and diagnose a condition or disease. The second is an ‘inadequate technique’ on the professional’s part, and the third is ‘careless performance’.
Claims for Misdiagnosis & Dental Neglect
Absent or wrongly administered treatment can occur if a dental professional has not diagnosed a condition correctly. Major complications can arise in cases where there have been referral delays or misdiagnosis. This can increase the damage that is already present. Conversely, pain or harm may also result from treatment that was not required.
An example of this is how gingivitis, a form of gum disease, can lead to a periodontal disease when it is left untreated. A periodontal disease damages the tissues that are used to support teeth. Loose teeth can occur as a result of periodontal disease, and as the disease progresses to the bone that anchors the teeth within the jaw, there is the chance that the teeth will begin to fall out.
Whilst it is your responsibility to clean your teeth daily, a dentist should monitor the gum disease by scheduling appointments with a hygienist on a regular basis, as well as take x-rays to locate any areas that could be problematic.
If you have attended regular appointments with a dental professional, but the dentist has not treated the periodontal disease in the beginning or managed to identify that it is present, then you could have grounds for a periodontal disease claim.
Bridges, veneers, crowns, tooth-coloured fillings or implants are designed to restore or improve teeth that are damaged. Before any procedures take place, you should be assessed fully so the dentist can get a complete understanding of what treatment may be required and the extent of any problems already present. You then have the right to be told about the benefits of the procedure and made fully aware of any problems that could arise during the treatment.
In instances of dental procedures designed to restore teeth failing, you are likely to feel pain and can become traumatised by the experience. Patients who must undertake repeat procedures to correct previously inadequate dental techniques could be subjected to increased emotional and financial burden. When claiming for dental malpractice the emotional and financial loss can be added to the claim.
Claims for Careless Treatment
Careless treatment may refer to a dental professional carelessly removing too many teeth or where other teeth were damaged in the process. Future problems can also arise if a tooth was not completely removed – where a dentist has left a portion of the extracted tooth in the mouth.
A recurring toothache and infections in the jaw can occur when a part of the root of a tooth is left in the mouth or if the canal is not properly filled during a root canal treatment.
Suing a Dentist – What’s The Process?
A claim cannot be filed by every patient who has experienced pain due to a dental procedure or whose dental procedure has not been successful. Despite the ‘duty of care’ that medical professionals must adhere to, it is not easy to prove dental malpractice. Anyone who is claiming dental negligence must prove that the injury or pain that they are suffering from was a result of the dental treatment.
One way of proving this is to undertake a medical exam by an independent specialist – this should be arranged by your solicitors. If you believe that you have a case for dental negligence and would like to pursue a claim, then contact us today about claiming dental medical malpractice compensation.
To ensure the claim is successful, our expert team will start gathering evidence to support it. The process of gaining a settlement will then include contacting the opposing side, making clear the pain you have experienced, any resulting care or requirements you may need, and the financial implications of the negligence. Every claim is different at this point, and it would be best to speak to a specialist dental lawyer about your unique circumstances.
Other Common Dental Procedures That You Can Claim For
Claims for Cosmetic Procedures That Have Failed
Serious problems can arise when there has been negligence during a cosmetic procedure. Some of these can leave patients with further dental problems, instead of the improvements that they were seeking.
It is a necessity for dentists to perform a complete examination of your current oral health before they consider undertaking any procedure such as the fitting of bridges, veneers or crowns. Failure is the likely result of any procedure that is carried out without this examination. You may require a jaw bone density test for example. If a dentist fits implants without checking the bone density there is a chance that the implants won’t fuse, leading to more dental issues in the wake of the failed procedure.
Claims for Extractions That Have Been Botched
In instances where teeth have been extracted, any resulting experience where complications have arisen due to tooth extraction may be claimed for. Serious issues such as blood poisoning, damage to nerves or harm to nearby healthy teeth can occur during a botched tooth extraction. If damage could not have been avoided during the extraction then a successful claim will be unlikely. Our specialist team will be able to assist you in deciding whether your claim is viable.
Claims for Errors in Root Canal Treatment
Inadequate techniques during root canal treatment can make the already unpleasant experience much worse. Serious and hard to treat jaw infections and continuous toothaches can be the result of a root that is not fully removed or a canal that has not been properly filled.
Claims for Advanced Gum Disease
A claim could be made against your dentist if they have not treated or identified the beginnings of gum disease. Oral infections and tooth loss can both be the result of gum disease that has reached an advanced stage. It can be very expensive to undertake restorative treatment for gum disease and the procedures are often painful. For an increased chance of successfully pursuing a claim for dental negligence, it is important to seek the help of a professional dental negligence solicitor.
Experts in Winning Dental Compensation
Our dental team includes a highly qualified dentist, working alongside our team of specialist personal injury solicitors who have experienced a variety of dental negligence cases.
- B.D.S. – Batchelor Dental Surgery
- MFGDP – Member of Faculty of General Dental Practitioners
- Dip Imp Dent (RCS) – Diploma Implantology (Royal College of Surgeons of England)
- Dip Rest. Dent (RCS) – Diploma in Restorative Dentistry (Royal College of Surgeons of England)
- Past Clinical Tutor at AstraZeneca
Our dental expert has practised at the highest level for over 32 years. From his own surgery, he has helped patients in every field of dentistry and understands the importance of:
- Proper pre-op assessment
- Proper planning and case work up
What Are The Time Limits To Starting Legal Action?
The normal rule is that a patient has 3 years in which to file a claim after the injury or dental negligence happened. There are certain exceptions that can be made, such as instances where the patient is under the age of 18, or where they were represented by a loved one due to diminished mental capacity.
It is advised to seek professional representation as soon as you are able in cases where you believe dental negligence was the direct cause of your pain or suffering.
What Will It Cost?
Your solicitor will decide whether the best course of action is to make a claim using ‘no win no fee’, meaning we would require no payment upfront before your claim begins. If your dental negligence case is successful, the other side pays for a large proportion of the fees. In instances where the claim was not successful, an insurance policy is responsible for paying the legal fees that have amounted.
How Is Dental Negligence Proved?
To prove that a dental professional has performed in a negligent way, several factors must be considered. A claim for dental negligence can be formed using a combination of these factors:
- Was the ‘duty of care’ breached by the dentist?
- Was any advice given negligent or inadequate?
- Was the treatment given incorrect or executed poorly?
- Has unneeded pain, distress or discomfort arisen due to the incorrect or inadequate treatment?
A solicitor may be able to assist in a compensation claim in cases where the dentist has not performed their duty professionally and you have suffered loss or pain as a result. The aim is to show that if the correct treatment or advice was given, the outcome of the procedure or lack of procedure would have been different. Claims may not be successful if the same outcome would have been reached if the right treatment or advice was given.
Most dental negligence claims have unique circumstances and the path to making a claim may not always be straightforward. So that you can get the right claim advice to fit your individual situation, it is highly advised that you contact an expert negligence solicitor to talk about your claim.
How Do I Complain about My NHS Dentist?
Opting to have treatment through a private dentist holds no guarantee that the treatment will be successful. This is despite statistics from the NHS showing that around 21% of adult patients prefer using a private dentist. In cases of negligence, it is possible to make a claim against both private practitioners and NHS dentists.
What Will My Settlement Be?
The compensation that you will receive from a dental negligence claim will be primarily for your suffering and pain. When negotiating a settlement, claims for additional treatment and added expenses can also be included. Any receipts or tickets for travel expenses should be retained for use as evidence of expenses you have been required to pay.
Any stress you’ve suffered or any financial loss due to the time that you have had to spend away from work can also be added to your compensation claim.
Whilst the amount of compensation available to you can be an incentive to inquire about a claim, it is difficult to put an exact number on the possible compensation without examining evidence of the dental negligence. Our personal injury calculator can give you a further indication as to the possible compensation you are able to receive.
Additional Treatment & Recovery
If you have suffered from an illness or injury from dental negligence, you should take the time to recover and allow our team of expert dental solicitors to look after your claim for you. We will do everything we can to ensure that you receive the compensation that is rightfully yours.
There is no need to be concerned if you have already recovered from the dental issue before making your claim. Our team can help you get started and provide individual advice no matter which stage of the recovery process you are currently at.
In cases where additional treatment may be required, make sure that you retain all evidence of the treatment and any extra expenses. This can be included in your claim. There is no guarantee that you will be compensated for the additional expenses but we will work with you to ensure that you get the most compensation possible.
For any future treatment or care associated with the original dental negligence, it is advised that a new dentist is carefully selected.
Other Common Complaints
Dental negligence does not just occur when a mistake is made. Sadly, we have experience oindealing with a variety of dental complaints such as dentists over-complicating surgery, when a simpler and more cost effective solution could have provided the same result. Often these complex procedures also come with a hefty price tag.
A dentist can also act negligently by failing to plan treatment appropriately. A lack of planning in dentistry can lead to all kinds of problems for the patient either immediately or somewhere down the line.
We will also need to consider whether you were advised correctly in relation to existing health concerns or lifestyle choices that may impact the success rate of certain treatments. If you have suffered unnecessary pain or loss as a result of a dentist breaching their professional duty, we may be able to help you make a dental negligence compensation claim.
You may have visited more than one dentist during the course of your treatment. If the failings of a previous dentist have been pointed out by your current one, please ensure you pass these details on to our friendly dental team. You can speak to them directly by calling 0800 0187 038.