How to bring a dental negligence claim
Jul 2022
Clinical Negligence

How to bring a dental negligence claim

Lauren Hall
Partner, Clinical Negligence

Are you concerned about the treatment you have received from your dentist? You may wish to bring a dental negligence claim but don’t know where to start. At Hay & Kilner, we can help you to take the first step.

What is dental negligence?

Dental negligence can occur where your dentist, NHS or private, has failed to take reasonable care and skill in carrying out your dental treatment. It may be in relation to a specific incident, such as extraction of the wrong tooth, or it may have been ongoing for years such as failure to diagnose and treat periodontal disease. If you have suffered harm as a result of negligent dental treatment, you may be entitled to compensation.

Complaint process

You may wish to make a formal complaint to your dentist, and we would be happy to discuss that with you. The complaint process can be helpful in identifying if your dentist is likely to make admissions of liability at an early stage.

Obtaining dental records

We will look to obtain disclosure of your dental records and, if appropriate, your dental hospital records. Our experienced team will then review your records and consider whether you have a claim.

Funding a claim

If we feel the prospects of your claim are sufficiently strong, we shall look to enter into a funding arrangement with you, which is often a No Win No Fee Agreement. Alternatively, you may already have insurance cover for example a household or car insurance policy that covers your legal expenses. We would be happy to review any policies for you and we may be able to act under the terms of your existing insurance.

Expert evidence and what we need to prove

At this stage, it is likely we will need to instruct an independent dental expert to review your records and provide a report commenting on the standard of care you have received from your dentist and the potential harm caused as a result of negligence.

This is known as breach of duty and causation which we need to prove to win your case. Breach of duty is showing that the treatment you received fell below the reasonable standard of care you would expect to receive from a reasonably competent dentist. If our independent expert considers that the care or treatment was carried out in a reasonable way, then this may be a defense and it is unlikely your claim will be successful.

Causation is demonstrating that, as a result of the negligent actions of your dentist, you have suffered physical harm. We may also need to arrange for you to examined by the expert to assess what treatment you may require to rectify the negligence for example a dental implant.

Letter of Claim

If the expert evidence obtained is supportive of your claim, we will then prepare and serve a detailed Letter of Claim on your dentist, setting out the allegations of negligence. The dentist or representative will then have 4 months to respond and either admit or deny liability.

If your dentist admits liability, we will negotiate a settlement for you which appropriately compensates for your injury and any future treatment you may require. There are also often past losses to consider such as loss of earnings, prescription, and treatment costs.

Court Proceedings

If the defendant denies liability and/or refuses to negotiate, we may then need to issue proceedings at Court to progress your case. We shall of course provide detailed advice should your claim reach this stage.

We are here to help

If you are concerned about treatment you have received from your dentist or wish to discuss a potential dental negligence claim, please contact Lauren Hall or a member of the team to discuss further.

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‘Hay & Kilner’ and ‘Hay & Kilner Law Firm’ are both trading names of Hay & Kilner LLP, a limited liability partnership registered in England & Wales with registered number OC418767. Our registered office is at The Lumen, St James' Boulevard, Newcastle Helix, Newcastle upon Tyne NE4 5BZ and we are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (Authorisation number 643191). We use the word ‘partner’ to refer to a member of Hay & Kilner LLP. A list of the members is available at our registered office.