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A dental negligence solicitor is a lawyer who deals with a specific area of personal injury compensation claims involving dentists. Complaints against dentists are common enough however the question to be asked is whether or not the dentist was negligent. Did his conduct fall below an acceptable standard? Dentists are judged not by absolute standards but their work is compared to that of similar dentists working in the community. In broad terms if a dentist carries out work and the manner of his treatment is acceptable to a substantial group of competent dentists then that dentist will not necessarily have been negligent even though alternative treatment may have been more successful.

Reasonable Skill & Care?

Treatment by a dentist that fails is not always considered to be a matter of medical negligence. To show that there is a case for compensation it is necessary to prove that the dentist concerned did not achieve a reasonable standard of skill and care. This is not judged on absolute standards but is compared to other dentists practicing in the same location with similar qualifications. Even if it is subsequently found that an alternative treatment would have been more successful, it is not dental negligence provided that a substantial body of other dentists would have pursued a similar course to the one that failed and that such treatment was logical.

Compensation Procedure

Determining whether or not a dental negligence claim will succeed is a complex matter dependent on a thorough review of the work that has been carried out by the dentist after consideration of the dental records supplemented by a personal medical examination. To determine if you have a viable claim our dental negligence solicitors will initially take a detailed statement over the phone and in appropriate cases will enter into a no win no fee* agreement. Thereafter the dental records will be obtained and sent for consideration by an independent specialist dentist who may require personal examination of the work that has been carried out. If a determination of negligence is made then a formal letter of claim is written to the negligent dentist whose insurers will at that point take over conduct of the claim. If the insurers admit liability them the matter proceeds to settlement. If liability is denied the case proceeds to a hearing in a court of law.

Time Limits

There are time limits in dental negligence matters and in general terms a compensation claim must have been settled or proceedings must have been issued in a court of law within three years of the patient becoming aware of the negligent treatment. There are exceptions to the three year rule for minors where time does not start running until the eighteenth birthday and for the mentally disabled where time does not start running until full mental capacity is restored. In addition the court has wide discretion to allow claims outside the normal time limits but this discretion is very rarely exercised.

Damages Awards

Damages that are available in dental negligence cases are the same as in any other personal injury claim. They include an award for pain and suffering, compensation for any loss of lifestyle, loss of earnings and the cost of medical treatment, prescriptions and general expenses including the cost of personal care in appropriate cases. Interest can be added to these items if settlement is delayed.

The amount of the award of financial compensation in a medical negligence compensation claim includes the following items:-

  • Pain & Suffering - this item is determined after consideration of the extent of the injury, the time taken for recovery and any long term consequences. The amount is determined after consideration of dental negligence compensation awarded in previous court cases and thereafter making a comparison. The UK government does issue guidelines to lawyers and judges to determine the amount of an award for personal injury.
  • Medical Expenses - complex procedures involving dental treatment may be carried out on the National Health Service however many treatments are now carried out on a privately paid basis. In either case, in the event of dental negligence being proved, we are able to claim the cost of rectification on a private basis including treatment that may be required at a future date.
  • Loss of Earnings - We are able to claim loss of income if the repair of the negligent dental treatment has resulted in time off work. Claims can also be made for loss of earnings due to future anticipated treatment that may be necessary in due course.
  • General Expenses - all losses that have been reasonably incurred due to dental negligence can be claimed back, including any private medical expenses, travel expenses, accommodation for specialist treatment etc.

Dental Negligence Solicitors

Legal aid is available to finance a dental negligence claim however our solicitors will also deal with claims on a totally risk free no win no fee* basis otherwise known as a conditional fee agreement. No legal charge is payable unless the legal case is won and the client obtains an award of compensation. In the event that the legal claim is lost there is no charge made to the client. If you would like fee advice without obligation from a dental negligence solicitor who is a member of the Solicitors Regulation Authority panel of clinical negligence experts just call our helpline or complete the contact form or email our offices.



*Legal Information

The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here