A Guide to Claiming Dental Negligence Compensation

If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by dental negligence we can help.

The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered dental negligence and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.

Introduction

Dental negligence claims and orthodontist negligence claims generally fall into 3 main categories. Those around diagnosis, such as misdiagnosis or a failure to act; those in which the dentist's technique is inadequate; and those where a dentist is careless.

Do I have a dental negligence 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.

Causation

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 negligence 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.

Misdiagnosis

Misdiagnosis and delays in referral can result in serious complications, such as tooth infection or untreated oral cancer spreading.

If a dentist fails to correctly diagnose a condition it may lead to the wrong treatment being administered, or no treatment at all. The condition may worsen, causing further oral damage. The inappropriate treatment may itself cause unnecessary injury and pain.

For example, when gum disease such as gingivitis is not treated, longer term it may turn into periodontal disease. There are a number of types of periodontal disease; all affect the tissues supporting the teeth. As the disease gets worse the bone anchoring the teeth in the jaw is lost, making the teeth loose. If this is not treated, the teeth may eventually fall out.

Taking regular x-rays to identify problem areas and ensuring regular hygienist appointments are scheduled should help a dentist monitor gum disease, although the patient must be responsible for his own daily cleaning routine.

If a patient has been attending regular dental appointments with a dentist who failed to identify or properly treat the early stages of periodontal disease, he may be able to bring a claim.

Inadequate dental technique

Dental procedures to improve or restore damaged teeth include bridges, crowns, veneers and implants, as well as tooth-coloured fillings. Correctly performed, treatments should last several years, but if a dentist does not use the right techniques they may quickly fail.

Before treatment patients should be fully assessed by their dentists to examine the extent of any problems and to establish suitability for any procedure. They should be advised of any risks as well as the benefits.

When restorative dental procedures fail it may be traumatic and painful. Where procedures have to be repeated there may be financial and emotional cost to the patient.These losses can be included in dental negligence injury claim.

Careless treatment

A dentist may be careless and remove a healthy tooth by mistake, or damage teeth adjacent to the one being extracted. It is also not uncommon for too many teeth to be extracted.

In some cases, teeth are only partially extracted leaving some of the root sections within the jaw, leading to later complications.

Where a dentist fails to remove the whole root, or to fill the canal properly after removal in root canal treatment, a patient may be left with persistent toothache or more seriously, severe jaw infections.

How to claim for dentist or orthodontist negligence

Although dentists have a duty of care toward their patients, it does not mean that anyone whose dental treatment has failed, or who is pain may file a claim.

Proving that a dentist has acted negligently can be complex. Claimants must be able to demonstrate that the received dental treatment was the cause of their pain or injury.

Your solicitor will arrange for an independent medical exam to establish that the dentist or orthodontist's negligence was the cause of your injuries.

How much compensation can I claim for dental negligence?

The amount of money you could claim for your dental negligence 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 negligence 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

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

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 negligence? (see list)

Examples of special damages (losses you can claim for) include:

  • Lost earnings (including future earnings)
  • Medical treatment costs
  • Physiotherapy
  • Travel costs
  • Costs of care
  • Costs of adapting your home or car

What is the average injury compensation for a dental negligence 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 negligence will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.

Your dental negligence 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 claim for prescription costs?

Special damages?are awarded for costs or losses incurred as a result of the dental negligence injury. Damages can include loss of earnings, treatment cost and any other 'out-of-pocket' expenses such as prescriptions.?

Dental negligence compensation calculator

Calculating how much compensation you can claim for a dental negligence 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 negligence claim could be worth now:

Calculate compensation

How long does a dental negligence claim take?

How long it can take to get compensation for dental negligence can vary considerably.

For example, a simple uncontested medical negligence claim could be settled in under 12 months. However, if the case goes to court or there is a serious or complex ongoing injury, a compensation claim can take considerably longer. Normally a dental negligence claim will take 12 to 24 months. For more information on how long your claim could take, see:

How long will my claim take?

Will I still be able to claim for a dental negligence 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 negligence 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.

No win, no fee, no risk

Under a no win, no fee agreement (referred to as a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA') you can make a dental negligence claim without having to worry about upfront legal fees. If your dental negligence claim is unsuccessful you won't have to pay any money to your solicitor.

No win, no fee promise

If you have been injured and it wasn't your fault, our no win, no fee guarantee takes the risk out of making a dental negligence injury compensation claim.

What do I pay if I win my dental negligence 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 negligence claim?

If your dental negligence 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.

Is there a penalty if I withdraw?

Under a No Win, No Fee Agreement (CFA), fees may apply if a claimant refuses to cooperate, or abandons their claim after the legal work has started, or if the claim is fraudulent.

Read more about making a No win, no fee 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:

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Dental negligence 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.

Read more about claiming on behalf of another person.

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.

Read more: Will my injury claim go to court and what if it does?

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.

Read more: Will I have to visit a solicitor's office?

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.

Read more about interim compensation payments.

Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor

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