Dental Negligence *
A Dentist, as per the Medical Practitioners Act 20017, is a legally recognised medical practitioner in Ireland. They are obliged to practice dentistry to the highest of medical standards. Dental negligence claims * arise when a person suffers an injury as a result of dental treatment or their appearance has been affected as a result of dental malpractice *. It is important to note that if you have suffered an injury as a result of dental negligence *, that you contact a dental/medical negligence solicitor * to discuss your case.
Common Types of Dental Negligence Claims *
- Misdiagnosis of medical conditions, such as gum disease or oral cancer
- Delayed diagnosis of medical conditions, such as gum disease or oral cancer
- Incorrect tooth extraction
- Injury as a result of poor standard of dental work
- Performance of unnecessary dental procedures
- Severed nerve claim
- Poor standards of hygiene leading to infection
- Fractured Mandible claim
Dental Negligence claims * can either be understood to be clinical negligence * (failure to provide necessary dental care, failure to diagnose an illness or condition) or dental malpractice * (cases where incorrect dental work was carried out, incidents where substandard work resulted in personal injury or altered the person’s appearance).
What is cosmetic dentistry?
Cosmetic dentistry is a method of professional oral care that focuses on improving the appearance of an individual’s mouth, teeth and smile. Cosmetic dentistry is most of the time a voluntary election, as opposed to an essential procedure. If you think you have experienced cosmetic dental negligence you can contact our legal team to discuss your options. Some examples of these procedures include:
- Teeth whitening
Making A Claim
The process for making a dental negligence claim * in Ireland is different when compared to other personal injury claims. Personal injury claims * in general are passed through the Injuries Board for assessment first, before they reach a court hearing. Dental negligence claims * – much like other medical negligence claims * – however, are brought straight to court and are not assessed by The Injuries Board.
There are certain things that you can do immediately after the incident that will help your solicitor establish a dental negligence * case for you:
- Record the date and time of the dental negligence * and the details of the type of dental treatment or procedure you received.
- Retain any medical/dental records relating to the incident.
- Take a photo of any visible injuries sustained as a result of the dental negligence.
You can take the following steps in order to proceed with your claim:
1. Speak to a Dental Negligence Solicitor *
It is advisable that you speak with a dental negligence solicitor * as soon as possible after the incident. Dental negligence * can be considered a subcategory of medical negligence *. This is a very complex topic in Irish Law. Attempting to proceed alone without the help of a solicitor may result in you missing some vitally important steps. Your solicitor can then guide you through the next steps to ensure that the claim procedure runs as smoothly as possible for you.
2. Medical Records
Generally, after discussing your situation in detail with you, your solicitor will request access to your medical and/or dental records. Once these records are obtained, your solicitor will then write letters to any/all dental practitioners involved in your dental negligence claim *, outlining your claim. Any responses received from the dentist practitioners involved will be filed with your medical records.
3. Independent Dental Expert Assessment
Your medical records and responses from the medical practitioners involved in your claim will then be reviewed by an independent dental expert in the field of interest. This is to attempt to determine whether you have indeed been subject to substandard dental care and negligence*. This is along with whether your injuries/illness could have been avoided if the appropriate standard of dental care had been adhered to.
4. Letter of Claim to the Dentist
Following the complaint having been lodged, your solicitor will them draft a letter of claim and send it to the relevant parties involved in your claim. A letter of claim outlines the nature of the dental negligence. It gives the dentist an opportunity to settle your claim.
The next steps involved in a claim will heavily depend on the nature of your claim and the response to your letter of claim and this will determine whether your claim * is brought to a court hearing or settled our side of the court. Your solicitor will be in a position to advise on the best course of action once negligence is confirmed and a letter of claim is sent to the relevant parties.
Following a claim, the compensation that a person receives is known as damages:
Non-financial damages such as pain and suffering and/or physical and emotional damage as a result of the negligence.
Out of pocket expenses incurred. For example, loss of earnings and future earnings, refund of any dental fees already paid. This is in addition to compensation for any future dental bills.
The amount of compensation recoverable for case will depend on certain factors:
- Dental History: If you have experienced similar dental problems in the past.
- Long-term effects of your injury/illness. This will play a factor in how much compensation is awarded. For example, an 18-year-old person that suffered a lifelong injury/illness may be awarded more than an 80-year-old person who suffered an injury/illness. This comes down to the estimated lifespan of both people.
- Type of injury or illness sustained. Dental injuries range from minor to serious. A court may award higher compensation to a person with a serious injury than what it would award to a person with a minor treatable injury.
Useful Information about Dental Negligence claims *
Statute of Limitations – Legal Time Frames
It is important to remember that there is a certain timeframe in place within which you can make a claim. For medical negligence claims the timeframe is 2 years following the date of the incident or 2 years following the date that a person made the connection that their illness or injuries were a result of dental negligence *. The time frame in which you have to make a claim is called the statute of limitations.
Dental negligence involving Children *
In an unfortunate incident where a child is subject to dental negligence *, the process of making a claim differed from that of an adult who has been subject to dental negligence *. A minor can bring a claim for medical negligence * in the first two years following their 18th birthday.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR CASE
With 30 years’ experience as specialist dental negligence solicitors *, Tracey Solicitors, ensure not to overwhelm you with legal jargon. We can provide you with legal advice and guidance with your best interest at heart. This will be carried out in a language that you can understand. For a confidential discussion call our expert medical negligence solicitor Caoimhe McConnell on 00353 (0) 649 9900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell her about your case.