If you’ve had dental treatment which you are unhappy with, or feel you’ve suffered as a result of, then you may have a dental negligence claim. Dentists owe their patients a duty of care, so if for whatever reason you suffer injury or pain and feel your treatment was poor, this could lead to a potential claim against the dental practice for compensation.

Here we explain the types of dental negligence, how a dental negligence claim processes, and the costs and possible compensation involved.

Types of dental negligence

Every case has its own unique circumstances that need to be taken into consideration, though broadly speaking, dental negligence can be grouped into the following three categories:

  • Delayed diagnosis

If your dentist takes too long to diagnose a problem with your oral health, to the point where further complications occur that could have been avoidable, this is a delayed diagnosis.

Examples include failing to treat decay or act upon signs of gum disease.

  • Misdiagnosis

A false diagnosis or misdiagnosis occurs when a dental problem is misjudged, leading to worsening symptoms and unnecessary treatment.

  • Substandard dental work

A dentist’s work is deemed substandard, or inadequate, when they fail to carry out treatment to an appropriate standard. Examples of substandard dental work include the following:

  • Extraction of the wrong tooth
  • Inadequate fillings, crowns, or root canal treatment
  • Incorrect fitting of dental implants
  • Failed implants

Making a dental negligence claim

If you feel that you have indeed been negligently treated by a dentist, you will need to show that the dentist did not exercise reasonable skill in carrying out your dental work. Having established that a breach of the duty has occurred, i.e. that the dentist has acted in a way which was substandard, you must prove that the breach of duty caused damage to you (i.e. avoidable pain and suffering).

On contacting a solicitor, your dental records, dental X-rays and further notes about your dental treatment will need to be obtained. If you have been to multiple practices, or specialists, these records will also be sought for your negligence case.

After examination of all evidence, a decision will be made as to whether your treatment was substandard and your claim deemed successful or not.

How long do I have to make a dental negligence claim?

It can take up to four months for a legal representative to gain access to your dental records and begin investigating your claim, so it is advised that you address the negligence as soon as possible.

The time limit, as governed by the Limitation Act 1980, states that your compensation claim for dental negligence must be made within three years of you realising the dental negligence was the cause of your current suffering.

What are the costs of making a dental negligence claim?

We operate on a ‘No win, No fee’ basis so whatever the outcome there are no upfront costs for making a claim. If you are unsuccessful there will be no cost to you and if you are successful you will receive at least 75% of the compensation awarded.

In any dental negligence case, your potential compensation will take into account:

  • Financial damages for the pain and suffering you have endured
  • Loss of earnings (due to time off work for further treatment, etc.)
  • Your ‘out of pocket’ expenses, which can include further treatment, transport, prescription costs, etc
  • Costs for any remedial treatment you may have in order to repair the damage caused by negligence

Dental negligence case: Faye Walters

Faye Walters chose to have veneers implanted prior to her wedding day. Unfortunately, not only had the veneers discoloured, but they had also cracked twice when she was eating, with the second time requiring emergency treatment from an on-call dentist.

On discovering that this was due to her dentist’s substandard dental work, Faye found that it would cost her more than £7,000 – and five months of treatment – to correct her teeth: “It was only when my second veneer cracked and I went to see a new dentist that I discovered the full extent of the problem,” said Faye, 29.

Having taken legal action against the dentist, who had fitted her six veneers so poorly at a cost of close to £2,000 in July 2010, Faye was eventually paid £10,000 in compensation, covering the cost of her new set, and also helping to compensate for her pain and suffering.

Sarah Smith, litigation assistant at Neil Hudgell Solicitors, represented Faye in her compensation claim: “All too often we represent clients who have suffered as a result of dental or cosmetic surgery negligence and, as in this case, patients can suffer both financially and emotionally. Having veneers fitted is a very costly procedure and we were very pleased to have secured a positive outcome for Faye.”

If you’d like to know more, take the next step, or just talk to somebody about your experience and what your options might be, we look forward to hearing from you and can be contacted here: http://www.neil-hudgell.co.uk/our-services/medical-negligence/dental-negligence