A Guide to Claiming Cosmetic Dentistry Compensation
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a cosmetic dentistry injury we can help.
The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered a cosmetic dentistry injury and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.
The number of people having dentist procedures in the UK is on the rise. From the year 2000 to 2010, the UK dentistry market grew by 46%. A significant amount of this growth in the market can be attributed to cosmetic dentistry.
While the majority of cosmetic dentistry procedures are successful, a small number fail to produce the desired outcome or create adverse outcomes, such as health problems and scarring. Not every negative outcome will entitle the injured patient to recover compensation, however.
For a claim to succeed, it must be established that the practitioner responsible for the procedure was negligent. Proving negligence will depend on the facts of the case.
Do I have a cosmetic dentistry claim?
Medical negligence claims differ from personal injury claims as the following will need to be established:
- there was a breach of duty ("negligence" or "fault"); and
- the breach of duty was the cause of your injury, damage or loss ("causation" or "avoidable harm").
Breach of Duty
A breach of duty means that the standard of care you received was below the standard that could reasonably be expected of a competent healthcare professional.
To establish causation, it will need to be demonstrated that the injury you suffered resulted from the negligent care rather than the underlying condition.
Get an impartial opinion
To get impartial advice on whether you have a claim, speak to a cosmetic dentistry claim expert on 0800 612 7456.
A brief phone consultation will tell you exactly where you stand. There is no obligation to start a claim.
You can also find out if you have a claim with our Online Claim Checker.
Is compensation always payable?
If an error occurred during treatment and the patient was harmed as a result, this may be referred to as an "undesirable outcome".
Not all treatment that results in an undesirable outcome will result in the payment of compensation.
Sometimes an undesirable outcome is due to a known risk associated with the treatment, or due to a mistake that a doctor could reasonably have made in the circumstances.
How long do I have to start a claim?
If your injury is apparent immediately after medical treatment, you will have 3 years to start a claim.
It may be that the negligent procedure happened more than 3 years ago, but your injury was only diagnosed recently, within the last 3 years. If so, you may still be able to make a claim.
What if your injury was diagnosed months or years after treatment?
You may not be immediately aware of your injury. In some cases, months and even years can pass before symptoms appear.
The law allows you to make a medical negligence claim up to three years after the 'date of knowledge' (when you first learned of the injury).
It is recommended that you start a claim as soon as possible, as medical negligence cases can be complex. Starting your claim sooner will give your solicitor more time to gather medical evidence, assess the extent of your injury and to negotiate interim payments and your final compensation amount.
The amount of money you could claim for your cosmetic dentistry will depend on:
- the extent of your injury, and
- any financial losses or costs you have incurred.
At the start of your claim, your solicitor will consider the many ways your cosmetic dentistry has affected your life. Your solicitor will take all of these effects into account to calculate the correct compensation award for you.
This calculation will factor in 'general damages' and 'special damages'.
General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA).
Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.
Special damages are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident.
What can I claim for after a cosmetic dentistry? (see list)
Examples of special damages (losses you can claim for) include:
- Lost earnings (including future earnings)
- Medical treatment costs
- Travel costs
- Costs of care
- Costs of adapting your home or car
What is the average injury compensation for a cosmetic dentistry claim?
The Judicial College injury tables give a approximate idea of the ranges awarded for different injuries.
However, the money you would receive following a cosmetic dentistry will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.
Your cosmetic dentistry compensation will be calculated based on the unique impact your injuries have had on your life, your ability to work, and the actual financial losses you have incurred as a result of your injuries.
See the injury table above for some examples.
Can I get an interim payment?
Interim payments are effectively an advance on a probable compensation award. An interim payment may be awarded if the claimant is in immediate financial hardship.
Cosmetic dentistry compensation
Calculating how much compensation you can claim for a cosmetic dentistry injury can be complicated.
Our injury compensation calculator tells you if you may have a claim, how much compensation you could claim, and what you can claim for.
Find out what your cosmetic dentistry claim could be worth now:
How long does a cosmetic dentistry claim take?
The length of time needed to get compensation for a cosmetic dentistry injury can vary significantly.
A simple uncontested dental negligence claim could be settled in 12 to 24 months. If the cases is particularly complex, the process might take 2 to 3 years. On average a medical negligence claim takes between 12 and 36 months. See:How long will my claim take?
Will I still be able to claim for a cosmetic dentistry after the law changes in April 2020?
The law relating to personal injury claims is changing in April 2020.
You will no longer be able to claim no win, no fee compensation using a solicitor for lower value claims (under £5,000).
In addition, compensation for whiplash and other soft-tissue injuries will be reduced.
Caring and sensitive support
Your solicitor will handle your cosmetic dentistry claim from the initial consultation through to the financial settlement. In addition, your solicitor will work with other specialists to help you with:
- Financial support: interim payments while you are unable to work.
- Advice: on personal injury trusts, tax and welfare benefits.
- Coordination: with rehabilitation providers and therapists.
- Access: to treatment and therapies not always available on the NHS.
What is cosmetic dentistry?
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) understands that there is no clear distinction between necessary or cosmetic dentistry. A dental procedure will frequently involve both treatment that is considered necessary and cosmetic work.
It is a clinical judgement made by the dental professional, based on the individual circumstance of each patient. Cosmetic dental procedures cannot be performed by the NHS - they are instead performed by private dentists.
People have cosmetic dentistry procedures for various reasons, from straightening crooked teeth to whitening discoloured teeth. Crowns, veneers and other dentist procedures may be considered cosmetic if they are performed to improve appearance rather than for medical necessity.
Cosmetic dental negligence
In order to make a cosmetic dentistry claim, you must be able to prove that your injuries are the result of dental negligence. In general, negligence will fall into one of two categories:
Misdiagnosis claims involve cases where the dentist fails to identify the cause of the dental problem, or incorrectly identifies the cause. This could lead to incorrect treatment being administered, which could worsen the problem or cause further oral damage.
In the context of cosmetic work, it may be the case that inappropriate cosmetic dentistry is recommended when more substantial dental treatment would be more suitable, or an underlying dental health issue is missed when undertaking cosmetic work.
As cosmetic dentistry is performed privately, you could also face extra costs to have the incorrect procedure rectified. It may be possible to claim for these costs when making a claim.
Inadequate dental technique cases
These cases stem from the dentist using incorrect or inadequate dental techniques.
Poor technique in dental cases can lead to serious complications including further oral problems, infection and severe pain, all of which could be factored into a claim.
Cosmetic dental procedures and dental negligence
There are a number of cosmetic procedures that could go wrong due to misdiagnosis or inadequate dental technique. Resolving these issues can be expensive and require further procedures for removals and repairs. You may be able to claim compensation for the following procedures if they are not performed correctly:
Crowns - If not fitted correctly, crowns can cause damage to the underlying teeth, leading to tooth decay and infection.
Braces - A common remedy to straighten teeth, if braces are fitted badly or not maintained effectively then patients can experience difficulties once the braces have been removed.
Veneers - Applying veneers requires the removal of part of the front of the tooth before fitting the veneer over the top. If this precise procedure is not performed correctly, the teeth can become sensitive, decay, and the tooth may die.
Teeth whitening - Whitening teeth by using chemicals or lasers can weaken the tooth enamel and cause tooth decay.
Gum procedures - In some cases the gums can be altered in order to make teeth appear straighter. If the gums are removed too far, this can reveal the root of the tooth which is extremely sensitive and more prone to decay.
Making a claim for cosmetic dental negligence
When making a cosmetic dentistry claim, the following will be taken into account to calculate the compensation you may be entitled to:
- Pain and suffering caused as a result of dental procedures
- Costs of further procedures to rectify the mistake
- Psychological damage as a result of the procedure
- Income lost due to incapacitation
No win, no fee - the facts
With a no win, no fee agreement, your solicitor agrees that you will have no legal fees to pay whatsoever if your claim is not successful.
Our no win, no fee promise
Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is absolutely no financial risk in making a cosmetic dentistry claim - even if you don't win your claim.
What do I pay if I win my cosmetic dentistry claim?
Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, after your claim is settled. The solicitor's success fee can be up to 25%. You and your solicitor can agree the success fee before you start your claim.
What do I pay if I do not win my cosmetic dentistry claim?
If your cosmetic dentistry claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal fees at all. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.
Can I get Legal Aid?
Legal aid is no longer available when making a personal injury claim, but a Conditional Fee Agreement (No Win, No Fee) can reduce the financial risks of making a claim.
How can Quittance help?
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning medical negligence claims.
If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open 8am to 9pm weekdays, 9am to 6pm on Saturday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.
Call us FREE 0800 612 7456 or arrange a callback:
if you can claim
to start a claim
Cosmetic dentistry FAQ's
Can I claim for someone else?
Yes. In certain circumstances, it is possible to claim compensation on behalf of another person in the capacity of a 'litigation friend'.
If an injured person is either too young or vulnerable, too injured or otherwise unable to claim on their own behalf, their litigation friend can handle the claim process on behalf of the injured person.
The litigation friend will be responsible for communicating with the solicitors, and for making decisions in respect of the claim.
Will I have to go to court?
Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by the solicitor panel are settled out of court.
Only a very small percentage (approx. 5%) of personal injury claims go to court. Generally, only very complex cases, or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court.
Cases that do ultimately go to court are held in front of a judge, not a jury.
Will I have to go to a solicitor's office?
No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. As with most professional services, it is no longer necessary to meet face to face with your solicitor. Personal injury claims are dealt with via email, post and telephone.
Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.
Can I get an early compensation payment?
If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.
An interim payment is a partial settlement of your claim which is paid before your claim is concluded. The amount you receive in interim payments would then be deducted from your final compensation settlement or award.
About the author
Howard qualified as a solicitor in 1984 and has specialised in personal injury for over 25 years. He is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and is a recognised Law Society Personal Injury Panel expert.
Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert