According to statistics, the number of dental negligence cases has increased in the past few years. This is mostly attributed to certain factors, such as the growth in cosmetic dentistry and orthodontic procedures.
Legally, dentists are considered medical practitioners and have an obligation to perform dental procedures. However, if your appearance has been severely affected or you have been injured due to dental malpractice, you can file a case against your dentist.
If you sustain an injury as a direct consequence of your treatment, it may constitute an act of dental negligence.
Keep in mind that dentists are responsible for their patients. It is their duty to ensure that they are safe and well. So, in case you suffer injury or pain due to a lapse in providing you such duty of care, you might be entitled to file a claim for dental negligence.
Then again, you may not be in a strong position if the dentist in question does not admit to the malpractice. This is why you need to seek help from a professional.
Dental negligence solicitors are the people you need in this kind of situation. They ensure that everything is properly processed so you can alleviate your stress as well as reduce the costs that you may incur.
Dental Negligence Cases
If you have any of the following issues, you may be eligible to file for a dental negligence claim:
- Failed Cosmetic Procedure
When you elect to have a cosmetic procedure, you basically hope to improve your smile and appearance. However, if your dentist is negligent, you may experience serious dental issues. This is why every patient has to undergo an assessment of their oral health before they submit to any procedure, such as crowns, bridges, or veneers. Otherwise, the dentist that carries out the procedure would be highly likely to fail. Dental implants, for instance, require you to have a specific bone density in your jaw. If you do not meet the criteria, the dental implants will not fuse with your jaw, and you may be in a much worse condition after the procedure.
Botched extractions may result in nerve damage, damage to adjacent teeth, and blood poisoning. You can make a claim if you experience any complications concerning tooth extraction, including extraction of healthy teeth. However, there are cases wherein extraction without complication is not possible. In these cases, you may not be able to make a claim.
- Advanced Gum Disease
You can also make a claim if your dentist of many years has failed to treat properly or identify your gum disease in its early stages. Advanced gum disease can result in serious oral infections or tooth loss. The necessary restorative treatments can also be very expensive and painful.
- Root Canal Treatment Error
If your dentist does not use adequate dental techniques during your root canal treatment, you may not achieve your desired results. For example, your dentist may fail to remove your entire tooth or properly fill your root canal afterwards. This can result in severe jaw infections or persistent toothaches.
Dental Negligence Claims
Anyway, there are actually two basic dental negligence claims that you can file against your dentist: clinical negligence and dental malpractice.
Clinical negligence covers the category in which a clinic or dentist fails to give the appropriate treatment for the patient. They may have failed to diagnose the problem properly during the examination.
An example of ailment misdiagnosis is incorrectly diagnosis mouth ulcer for oral cancer. On the other hand, dental malpractice generally encompasses situations wherein an inappropriate treatment was done, or the clinic or dentist did substandard work that resulted in injury, pain, unnecessary loss of dental function or teeth, or a terrible appearance.
You may also file a claim against inadequate treatment, misdiagnosis, and careless dental work. Inadequate treatment can result if the dentist does not use the right dental techniques to treat you. It can refer to a long-term treatment or a one-time treatment that caused serious complications.
Correct diagnosis is vital in patient care. In the event of misdiagnosis or a failure to diagnose your condition, you can file a claim against your dentist. Misdiagnosis can result in failure to provide accurate or adequate dental treatment, which in turn can exacerbate your problem or result in further damage.
Furthermore, you can file a claim for careless dental work, which includes a wide range of situations. Your dentist may have extracted the wrong tooth or cut your lip or gum during a procedure.
However, merely being unsatisfied with the dental treatment you got does not make you liable for filing a claim against your dentist. Just like any other injury claims civil action, you have to prove that your dentist has indeed failed in their obligation to give you proper dental treatment.
You should be able to prove that you would have otherwise gotten different and better results if the dentist did not fail in carrying out the procedure.
This can be an incredibly complex task. The law only grants compensation if the claimant can prove beyond any doubt that the treatment they received directly caused or contributed to their injury or pain.
You should be able to prove that your condition was indeed a cause of negligence or malpractice and not simply a natural or unavoidable development.
If you truly believe that you have been negatively affected by dental negligence or dental malpractice, you have to make a written complaint. See to it that you also keep all available evidence, such as receipts.
You also have to keep a record of your correspondence. Never agree to settle for anything unless you have consulted your solicitor. Do not accept any more procedures either. You have to be aware of the implications of such actions. This stage is what is referred to as the Date of Knowledge.
Concerning the statute of limitations, your claim can have a legal standing if you made it within two years of the Date of Knowledge. Remember that there are certain exceptions to this rule, such as cases of missed diagnoses and cases of children under eighteen years of age.
Just like a personal injury case, your compensation depends on your circumstance. Nevertheless, you are entitled to out of pocket expenses, such as loss of earnings.
This can be applicable if your condition prevents you from making money in the future, such as no longer being hirable due to your cosmetic impairment. You are also entitled to medical costs, including a refund of the money you paid the other party and any expenses you incurred while you addressed the damages caused to you.
You are entitled to damages for both psychological and physical pain and suffering too.
Dental claims come under personal injury claims. Therefore, you have to have sustained damage or injury, whether psychological or physical, as a direct result of the treatment.
If the clinic or dentist was careless or negligent, but you did not have any injury, you cannot carry on with your compensation claim. ‘Could have’ or ‘would have’ caused an injury is not considered enough reason to justify any compensation to be awarded to you.
Factors to Consider
Take note that every dental negligence claim is unique. So, the amount of compensation you receive may not be exactly the same to that of someone you know who had a similar experience. Nevertheless, there are certain things that are generally taken into consideration when it comes to assessing claims.
You have to consider contributory negligence. Determine whether or not you have contributed to your own injury by behaving in a negligent manner despite being warned about or being aware of the possible consequences.
You also have to consider your dental history, especially because it is an essential factor in assessing dental negligence claims. If you have any prior history of similar or identical dental problem, it may affect your compensation.
Injuries are generally assessed according to thelevel of seriousness. Hence, you also have to consider the type of injury that you sustained. Remember that certain injuries are more serious than the others, therefore, needing more compensation.
Don’t forget to consider the persistence and severity of your pain. Basically, the greater and more persistent your pain is, the higher the compensation you can receive.
Usually, plaintiffs are also awarded part or all of the cost of the specialist dental treatments they need to undergo to remedy the damage or injury they incurred because of dental negligence. Aside from remedial expenses, they may also file a claim for trauma suffered and prognosis.
To claim for trauma suffered, you should be able to prove that you indeed suffered psychological trauma because of your dental treatment.
As for claiming for prognosis, you should identify if your injury is likely to cause permanent or long-term damage. The longer your suffering, the more compensation you can get.
The length of your claiming process depends on the defendant admitting to or denying liability. If your dentist admits to dental negligence immediately, your case can be quickly resolved. However, if he/she denies it, you may have to appear before the court several times. If you want your claiming process to go on smoothly, seeking help from dental negligence solicitors is greatly advised.