Dental Malpractice and Dental Negligence Compensation Claims
Statistics show that Dental Negligence cases have shown a marked increase in recent years. This is probably attributable to a number of factors, not least the growth in general orthodontic procedures as well as cosmetic dentistry (e.g. teeth whitening) being conducted both in Ireland, Northern Ireland and eastern European countries such as Hungary.
Dentists are legally recognized as medical practitioners under the Medical Practitioners Act of 2007 and as such have obligations to conduct dental procedures to a high standard. However, if you have been injured or your appearance has been adversely affected because of dental malpractice, you can bring an action for compensation against the dentist in question.
Like any medical malpractice cases, these are not necessarily straightforward when professional liability is not admitted by the dentist or clinic in question. Which is why a reputable personal injury solicitor will ensure that everything is processed properly thus alleviating the stresses and costs that you might otherwise incur.
It should be noted, that due to their complexity these type of medical negligence cases are not undertaken by the Injuries Board (formerly PIAB). Therefore you should consult with a registered Law Society injury claims lawyer before you commit to any fees for taking your claim.
There a couple of basic types of claim you can make a against a dentist;
- Clinical Negligence – This broadly covers the category where a dentist or clinic fails to provide the necessary treatment that you require, usually by failing to diagnose the problem during an examination or misdiagnosing your ailment e.g. not correctly diagnosing a mouth ulcer condition as oral cancer.
- Dental Malpractice – Although related to negligence, this would typically encompass situations where either inappropriate treatment was carried out or, in common parlance, it was a botched job resulting in pain, injury, a negative impact on your appearance and/or unnecessary loss of teeth or dental function.
Just because you may not have been satisfied with a dental treatment you received is not enough. Like any injury claim civil action, it must be provable that the dentist failed in his/her obligation to provide a duty of care and that your circumstances would not have occurred if a competent dentist had carried out the procedure.
Evidence for your claim
As soon as you believe that you have been adversely affected by dental malpractice or negligence, you should make a written complaint to the dentist in question and keep a record of all correspondence. It is important that you do not agree to settle for any damages before consulting your solicitor or accept further procedures until you are certain of the implications. Generally speaking, once you have reached this stage, it is deemed legally speaking as the Date of Knowledge.
Statute of Limitations
For your claim to have legal standing, it must be made within 2 years of the Date of Knowledge. There are some exceptions to this in the case of children under 18 or in cases of a missed diagnosis.
What kind of compensation is paid for dental malpractice/negligence?
Like an personal injury case, this will vary with the circumstance. You are however generally entitled to;
- damages for pain and suffering (both physical and psychological)
- out of pocket expenses including loss of earnings (in rare circumstances this could include future loss of earnings if you sufferred a cosmetic impairment which affected your employment prospects)
- medical expenses including a refund of any monies already paid to the liable party and also any expenses inccurred or likely to be incurred in addressing the damage caused to you.
*Other Dental Injury Case Types
Note: This section above deals with dental claims issues where a dentist as medical practitioner is at fault. If you suffer injury as a result of an accident (e.g. car crash) which leads to dental damage or tooth loss, there is a slightly different personal injury claims procedure to be followed. For the record the Injuries Board do provide quantum guidelines for dental compensation payouts as follows;
€3,600 to €5,700 – Loss of milk tooth
€6,000 to €11,100 – Broken tooth
€5,300 to €12,800 – Loss of tooth
Claiming Compensation from a Dentist in another country
You can bring an action against a dentist in another country. Typically the action would have to be taken via the courts in that jurisdiction although an Irish-based solicitor can assist by appointing a lawyer counterpart in that country to take the case. One can also file damages here in Ireland against that dentist’s representatives or agents if that applies.