Can I Sue My Dentist? How To Handle Claims Of Dental Negligence.
You can sue your dentist if they have failed to provide an acceptable standard of care. This usually occurs when their direct action or inaction has led you to suffer avoidable injury, harm or suffering.
If you have experienced injury or harm as a result of receiving dental care that has fallen below the duty of care or professional standards expected, then dental malpractice or dental negligence may have occurred. When this happens, whether it be via the NHS, or private practitioner you are within your rights to sue your dentist and should contact a solicitor specialising in dental negligence claims for legal advice as soon as you think you have a case.
At Hattons Solicitors we have a team dedicated to investigating and securing medical and dental negligence claims on behalf of our clients in and around the North West of England.
From the simplest to the most complex of cases, we ask the right questions and have the experience you need to help you to establish if you have a legitimate case to pursue. We can then support you in receiving the compensation you deserve if you have been injured as a result of receiving dental care that has falls below the standards expected.
Click this link to send us a message or call us on 01744 744400 for a friendly chat.
Read on to find out more about dental malpractice, what to do when treatment goes wrong, and how a solicitor can help you to secure the best outcome possible for you.
When Can You Sue A Dentist?
It’s rare to find people who enjoy going to the dentist, but when we do attend appointments for either routine or on-going treatment, emergency works or check-ups, we can all expect to feel safe and experience proper levels of care from a qualified professional, that prevents any further avoidable injury or harm arising to us.
When this isn’t the case and a dentist has performed poorly, negligently or inappropriately, and this results in avoidable harm being caused to you, then dental negligence may have occurred and you may have a may to sue your dentist.
While most dental appointments run without a hitch, some procedures can go wrong even if the correct treatment plan was followed. In these cases there is usually no case to answer. Negligence can however be considered if injury arises when the treatment provided falls below the standard that a competent dentist could be expected to provide. In these cases, it may be appropriate to pursue a malpractice claim.
What Is Dental Negligence?
All dental practitioners in the UK must be listed on the General Dental Council Register by law and follow the following nine professional principles as they practice:
- Put patients’ interests first
- Communicate effectively with patients
- Obtain valid consent
- Maintain and protect patients’ information
- Have a clear and effective complaints procedure
- Work with colleagues in a way that is in the patients’ best interests
- Maintain, develop and work within their professional knowledge and skills
- Raise concerns if patients are at risk
- Make sure their personal behaviour maintains confidence in them and the dental profession
If you feel that something has gone wrong with the dental care you have received, or if you have visited a dentist for any reason and the dentist hasn’t adhered to any of the principles outlined above and this has caused you pain and suffering, then they could have fallen below the acceptable standard of care expected and you may have a case to make a claim against them.
What Dental Work Is Covered?
When it comes to duty of care, all dental procedures should be delivered in line with the principles outlined above and meet the expected standard of care. From the simplest of routine procedures such as a filling, to elective cosmetic dentistry, and complicated root canal procedures, your treatment should be carried out proficiently, safely and not cause you avoidable harm.
Examples of cases where negligence may have occurred include:
- Delayed diagnosis of oral cancer despite routine dental check-ups
- Excessive removal of enamel ahead of cosmetic procedures resulting in permanent damage
- Complications resulting from root cancel treatments
- Complications resulting from tooth extraction
- Failure to treat gum disease that resulted in tooth loss despite regular dental checkups
How Long Do I Have To Sue My Dentist?
While some dental negligence claims are apparent immediately during or after treatment, other outcomes caused by a failure to meet proper duty of care may not come to light for months or years after your original interaction with the dentist in question. Depending on your situation, you may be wondering if there is a time limit for making dental negligence claims.
The time limit for making dental negligence claims is three years from the date that the negligence occurred or the date that you became aware of the negligence. There are exceptions to this rule, so you should always contact a solicitor in the first instance if you suspect you have a case to sue. They will be able to advise you the best course of action specifically related to your circumstances.
How Much Compensation Can I Expect To Receive?
Usually, the intended outcome of suing somebody is to receive financial compensation proportionate to the pain and suffering experienced.
As the actual amount of compensation that you could receive in a successful negligence claim against your dentist will depend on a number of factors specific to your case, we can’t provide a figure that you can expect to receive here, but can tell you that it will be based on the following points:
- The nature of the claim in question. Eg. a misdiagnosis, carelessness, poor technique or failure to provide clear and proper advice.
- The extent of any further dental work required to remedy damage caused by the original negligence experienced
- The severity or longevity of the injury and suffering experienced as a result of the dentists action or inaction.
To get a better understanding of the amount of compensation that you would be likely to receive please talk to our friendly professional negligence team. They will be able to advise you on likely compensation amounts based on your specific case using their experience of similar cases.
What Happens When You Sue A Dentist?
When you contact a solicitor with the intention of suing a dentist for malpractice, there are standard procedures that must be followed. This approach ensures that the claim is managed fairly, effectively and lawfully for both sides and gives you the best chance of winning compensation for the injury or pain you have suffered.
To pursue any claim of malpractice against a dentist, we must consider:
- Whether there was a duty of care expected. This is the dentist’s legal duty to treat you safely.
- Whether there has been a breach of that duty of care by either the action or inaction of the dentist.
- The action or inaction that caused injury to you – this is known as causation.
- The harm that you have suffered as a result of the dentists actions – this is known as damage.
- The first thing your lawyer will do is to ascertain if you have a valid claim for dental malpractice or dental negligence against your dentist. To do this they will work with you to establish the facts and timeline of the claim in question in order to assess if it can meet the legal test of negligence.
- From here, our team will try to get a clear picture of what happened by requesting copies of your medical records and obtaining an independent medical report to show that negligence occurred, along with gathering any evidence available to support how this breach of care has impacted your life afterwards.
- If a duty of care was breached and our lawyers can prove that you suffered due to an act of negligence or poor advice given by your dentist, then there is a case for professional negligence and your legal team will begin a series of statutory communications between you, ‘the claimant’ and your dentist.
- During this process your legal team will clearly communicate the claim, damages sought and legal basis for the claim. The dentist being sued is then required to provide a Letter of Response in which they can either admit the claim and make a proposal for a settlement, or dispute the claim.
- Any financial claim made will intend to cover the damages you have suffered and will be calculated from the date of the breach of care that led to the harm you have experienced. The amount that you can expect to receive varies from case to case but will be based on the severity of what has happened to you and the impact that it has had one your life.
- If a settlement cannot be reached using the protocol outlined above then court proceedings will be issued and a judge will decide the outcome of the case, if a settlement should be awarded and how much this should be.
Click this link to send us a message or call us on 01744 744400 for a friendly chat.
Should I Stop Treatment While My Case Is Ongoing?
If you are engaged in an on-going negligence claim against your dentist but need treatment for pain or infection that you are experiencing as a result of the original work in question, then seeking help for this should take priority over the pursuit of your legal case. Your health and well-being needs to be your top priority.
You should however be mindful that depending on the specifics of your case, treatment you pursue may impact on evidence needed for your legal claim. Your legal team can advise you on this in regards to your case so that you can continue to get the treatment you need whilst preserving any evidence that may be required.
Dentists are highly skilled care givers that offer a wide variety of routine and complex dental procedures to their patients. Whether you are visiting a dentist for a routine check up, emergency works or long term treatment plans, patients should feel safe in the knowledge that the care they receive, and treatments delivered will be carried out to the highest standard by a practitioner that is suitably qualified and able to complete the dental care required competently.
If your dentist fails to provide a reasonable standard of care through either their actions or in-actions, and this results in you receiving an injury or avoidable long term pain, then you may be eligible to make a claim for dental malpractice or professional negligence.
If you have experienced any kind of dentistry work that has fallen below the standard of care or quality of procedure that you would expect to receive, and this has also resulted in an injury or physical harm taking place, then the dentist may have been professionally negligent and you are within your rights to sue for professional negligence.
Find Out More
Please use our contact form to get in touch or call 01744 744400 to speak to our specialist Medical and Dental Negligence Lawyers today If you believe that you have experienced a clear breach of care by your dentist and you have been injured as a result.
We are trained to engage in inquests and ask the right questions when challenging the care you have received via the NHS or private practitioners. We will help you to establish if you have a legitimate claim, then work to understand your case in depth in order to work towards securing the best outcome possible for you.
Hattons Solicitors is based in St Helens, Merseyside and the firm has been providing efficient, affordable and high quality legal services to members of the public and the wider business community since 2001. Professional excellence and quality of work is reinforced by our Law Society Lexcel Accreditation, and membership to the Law Society. Our friendly team will always listen to you and your needs before working with you to deliver the best approach that best meets your needsPosted on: 10/May/2021 Posted in: Medical Negligence