Dental Negligence / Dental Malpractice *
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 * for compensation arises 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. It is important to note that being dissatisfied with a dental procedure is not enough to bring a dental negligence claim * against a dentist, a person must be able to prove that the dentist responsible for the injury/illness failed to provide a duty of care and that had the dentist provided the level of care expected that the resulting injury or illness would not have occurred.
Common Types of Dental Negligence Claims *
- Misdiagnosis of dental/medical conditions, such as gum disease or oral cancer
- Delayed diagnosis of medical conditions, such as gum disease or oral cancer
- Incorrect tooth extraction
- Dental 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 dental work resulted in personal injury or altered the person’s appearance).
How can I make a dental negligence 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 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.
Following these steps, if you do feel like you are been subject dental negligence * or malpractice, 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 as s sub category of medical negligence *, which is a very complex topic in Irish Law and 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 dental negligence * and 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 dental negligence claim. A letter of claim outlines the nature of the dental negligence and invites the dentist at fault to settle your claim for compensation.
The next steps involved in a dental negligence claim * will heavily depend on the nature of your claim and the response to your letter of claim and this will determine whether your dental negligence 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 dental negligence * is confirmed and a letter of claim is sent to the relevant parties.
What legal remedies can I seek following a case of Dental Negligence *?
Following a dental negligence 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 as a result of dental negligence include, for example, loss of earnings and future earnings (if you were out of work), refund of any dental fees already paid and compensation for any future dental bills
The amount of compensation you claim for a dental negligence * case will depend on certain factors like:
- 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 life span of both people.
- Type of injury or illness sustained: Dental injuries range from minor to serious and 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 Medical Negligence compensation claims *
Statute of Limitations – Legal Time Frames
Following a case of dental negligence *, it is important to remember that there is a certain timeframe in place within which you can bring a claim for compensation. 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 for compensation 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.
With 30 years’ experience as specialist dental negligence solicitors *, Tracey Solicitors, ensure not to overwhelm you with legal jargon and can provide you with legal advice and guidance with your best interest at heart, 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.