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Botched dental treatment? You may be entitled to compensation

So, you pluck up the courage to go to your dentist to get those fillings done or to have the root canal treatment you have been dreading for months. You come out of the dental surgery expecting healthier teeth, but what you end up with is more pain and discomfort. If this sounds familiar, then it is time to talk to a solicitor.

From reviewing your medical records to find out why treatment was necessary to assessing what went wrong in the dentist’s chair, a solicitor can help to establish whether the treatment you received was below the expected standard and, if so, whether compensation should be paid. They can also help to ensure that you are treated properly going forward. Katherine Flashman Kitson, personal injury specialist at Parnalls Solicitors explains more.

‘When you go to see a dentist, you are entitled to be treated with reasonable skill and care. Where the service you receive is substandard and you suffer as a result this may amount to negligence, and, if it does, you are well within your rights to ask your dentist to make amends’, says Katherine.

When will dental treatment be negligent?

Dental treatment will be negligent where it can be shown that the way your dentist treated you is not the way that a reasonable dentist would have treated you. This may be the case, for example, where your dentist has:

• failed to diagnose you with a condition that dentists are trained to spot, such as mouth cancer or gum disease;
• unnecessarily removed a healthy tooth;
• failed to follow basic hygiene controls which have caused an infection;
• failed to properly secure a dental crown or veneer;
• carried out inadequate bridge or orthodontic work;
• poorly performed teeth bleaching;
• failed to properly fill your teeth;
• failed to spot and treat tooth decay; or
• caused permanent nerve damage.

How much compensation can I claim?

If your dentist has been negligent then the amount of compensation you can claim will depend on the amount of harm caused and the cost of any treatment needed to repair the damage.

In most cases compensation can be claimed for the pain and suffering you have endured together with the cost of any further treatment you require. You can also claim for any related financial losses, such as loss of earnings, if you have been unable to work or have had to take time off to attend medical appointments.

How do I make a claim?

To make a claim, your solicitor will need to review your medical records to establish whether the way you have been treated is negligent. If it is, then a letter will be sent to your dentist to explain your case and to ask whether they admit fault. Your dentist will have four months to reply to this letter and will do so only after discussing your claim with their insurer.

If your dentist admits that they were negligent then your solicitor will contact their insurer to negotiate a compensation payment. If negligence is denied, or if the amount of compensation to be paid cannot be agreed, your solicitor will have to issue a claim at court to get the matter resolved. There are strict time limits for making a compensation claim, so it is important to act quickly.

The cost of investigating your claim, and of taking the matter to court if necessary, can usually be funded under a conditional fee agreement which means there may possibly be no legal fees to pay unless your claim is successful.

How much compensation can I expect to receive?

The amount of compensation you can expect to receive will depend on how badly you have been affected by the way you have been treated. Minor problems may only result in the payment of a few hundred pounds. However, more serious problems could result in a compensation claim of many thousands of pounds.

If you have received poor dental treatment, please contact Katherine Flashman Kitson on 01566 772375 or email to find out how we can help.

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.


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