A Guide to Claiming Dental Abscess Compensation
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a dental abscess injury we can help.
The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered a dental abscess injury and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.
A dental abscess is an infection of the tissues that surround the tooth root, characterised by the build up of pus in the infected area. The condition is caused by bacteria entering the tooth, usually as a result of tooth damage or decay.
Dentists owe their patients a duty of care to spot medical conditions of the mouth at the earliest opportunity. With timely treatment, a dental abscess rarely causes any long-term health problems. However, if a dentist fails to diagnose or treat a condition the dental abscess may grow and create permanent problems for the teeth, mouth and jaw.
Anyone who has suffered a dental abscess after receiving inadequate dental treatment may be eligible to make a dental negligence compensation claim.
Do I have a dental abscess 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 dental abscess 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 dental abscess 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 dental abscess 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 dental abscess? (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 dental abscess 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 dental abscess will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.
Your dental abscess 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.
I can't find my injury in the table, can I still claim?
The table is a list of the most common injuries associated with a dental abscess claim. You can see the full list of injury awards here: Judicial College Injury Tables.
Dental abscess compensation
Calculating how much compensation you can claim for a dental abscess 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 dental abscess claim could be worth now:
How long does a dental abscess claim take?
How long it can take to process a dental abscess claim can vary considerably.
A straightforward liability accepted medical negligence claim can settle in less than 12 months. However, if the case goes to court or there is a complex ongoing injury a claim can take longer. Typically, a dental negligence claim takes 12 to 24 months. To read more about how long your claim could take, see:How long will my claim take?
Will I still be able to claim for a dental abscess 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 dental abscess 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.
Dental abscess symptoms
Initially, a dental abscess may not have any symptoms. However, as the dental abscess develops, the patient usually will begin to experience the following:
- Severe toothache, usually described as a throbbing or shooting pain
- Bitter taste in the mouth
- Pain while chewing
- Red or swollen gums
- Visible draining of the pus into the mouth
- Swollen glands in the neck
- Swelling of the jaw.
Occasionally, the toothache associated with a dental abscess may stop once the tooth pulp and nerves have been damaged. This may discourage patients from seeking the dental treatment they need. Even without pain, the infection may continue to eat through tissue causing irreparable damage to the bone structure of the jaw.
How is a dental abscess treated?
Dental abscesses are usually treated using a combination of antibiotics and draining the abscess to remove all pus and bacteria. In serious cases, the abscess may have to be surgically removed.
Early diagnosis is critical to the chances of a patient making a full recovery from a dental abscess injury. When treatment is delayed, the infection could spread causing damage to other parts of the body.
Making a claim for a dental abscess injury
Dental staff owe a duty of care to provide treatment in a professional and timely manner. A claim may arise whenever this duty is breached and the patient suffers injury as a result. Examples include:
- A delay in diagnosing the dental abscess
- Failing to treat tooth damage or decay in a timely manner
- Incomplete draining of a dental abscess resulting in further infection
- Failing to provide a course of antibiotics
- Complications following deep cleaning treatments
- Mistakes during the removal of an abscess may give rise to a surgical error claim.
This list is not exhaustive. A claim may be made whenever it can be shown that the dentist behaved in a manner which fell short of the required standard. The arguments will often be highly technical, revolving around the details of specialist dental reports.
What if my dental abscess was misdiagnosed?
While few dentists would fail to spot an established dental abscess, they may miss certain types of tooth damage that, without the proper treatment, could lead to the development a dental abscess in the future. Mistakes of this kind can result in a misdiagnosis claim, one of the most common types of dental negligence compensation claim.
Failing to spot a dental problem can increase the pain and discomfort of the patient, prolong the recovery period and in serious cases, reduce the health outcome of the patient. Where it can be shown that a negligent misdiagnosis has caused or exacerbated the patient's dental abscess, a claim for compensation may be made.
No win, no fee, no risk
No win, no fee removes the risk from making a dental abscess claim. If you don't win your claim, you won't have to pay your solicitor any legal fees.
No win, no fee promise
Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is no financial risk in making a dental abscess claim, even if you don't win your claim.
What do I pay if I win my dental abscess 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 dental abscess claim?
If your dental abscess claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal fees whatsoever. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.
Is there a catch?
The Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) sets out the terms between you and your solicitor., No Win No Fee is a regulated activity and as such there should be no nasty surprises in the agreement. Nevertheless, it is recommended that you read the agreement carefully and ask any questions if you are unsure.
What is Legal Aid available for?
In 2000, the government abolished the right to legal aid in medical negligence cases. Depending on an individual's circumstances, Legal Aid may be available for discrimination cases, criminal cases, family mediation and court or tribunal representation.
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
Dental abscess 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