What is Dental Negligence?
Not many people enjoy going to the dentist and often dental pain and discomfort is endured until the last possible moment. When dental negligence is brought into the mix, it can make the experience traumatic, but what exactly is dental negligence?
Dental negligence generally refers to pain, injury and/or trauma caused by mistakes and/or delay in treatment which can cause significant pain and at times can also affect one’s mental wellbeing. Whilst at times, some experiences can be short lived, there are more severe instances when dental negligence can have a serious impact on long term health and lifestyle.
What is classed as dental negligence?
There are many various forms of dental negligence ranging from a filling being inserted incorrectly to permanent nerve damage to mistakes in treatment resulting in loss of multiple teeth. Dental negligence compensation claims can be pursued after experiencing any one of the following most common types:
Incorrect fitting of a crown or bridge.
Failure to provide treatment plans, preventative or oral hygiene advice.
Mistakes during oral surgery.
Failure to carry out a root canal adequately
Your dental practitioner is responsible for providing you with the adequate information regarding any risks associated with the proposed treatment/procedure. They also have a duty to highlight known side effects which could cause health problems. This is also known as ‘informed consent’ and if a patient has not been fully informed before giving their consent and something goes wrong, there are grounds for a dental negligence claim.
Can I claim for dental negligence?
The short answer is yes. However, for a claim to be successful the burden is on the plaintiff to prove the alleged negligence. This is done by obtaining a report from an independent medical expert who will provide comment on two key factors:
1. Breach of duty
The test of whether a doctor breached the duty of care owed to a patient is whether he or she has failed to meet the standard of a reasonable body of other practitioners also skilled in that field. If this is established by the medical expert, the claim can progress onto the ‘causation’ stage.
Causation is a burden that is placed on the plaintiff to prove. The claimant must prove that, on the balance of probabilities, the negligent actions of the doctor or other healthcare professional actually caused the injuries which they have suffered from. If the expert identifies a connection between your condition and any failings with your medical treatment, and if it is concluded that the outcome could have been prevented, you may be entitled to claim compensation.
How long does a dental negligence claim take?
Asking how long a claim will take can be akin to asking how long a piece of string is. Typically, by the time all dental records have been obtained and an expert legal report has been furnished, the investigative process can take in the region of around twelve months. It is only at this stage your solicitor will be in a position to progress your case if the investigations conclude a positive result.
How much can I claim?
Every dental negligence compensation case is as unique as it is complex. For this reason, it is virtually impossible to give an opinion on what a claim is worth before investigations have been carried out. Until detailed expert evidence on long term prognosis has been procured, there is no rational way to carry out an assessment on a client’s dental negligence compensation claim.
However, the legal principle which underlies the awarding of compensation is to attempt to put them back in the position they would have been in had they not fallen victim to the substandard care which has caused injury. To arrive at the correct figure, compensation is broken down into two categories:
1. General Damages – intended to represent compensation for the pain and suffering;
2. Special Damages – intended to represent recoverable losses such as earnings and cost of medical/specialist treatment.
Why choose PA Duffy & Co?
Our clinical negligence solicitors and dental negligence solicitors are well versed and experienced in dental negligence compensation claims and can provide you with the right help and advice. In appointing PA Duffy & Co Solicitors you will receive top-quality legal services and support throughout the duration of your claim.
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Contact our dental negligence solicitors in Dungannon, Belfast or Dublin