Dental Negligence

How Do I Bring A Claim For Dental Negligence?

What types of dental negligence claims can be brought?

  • Nerve Damage – nerve damage is one of the most serious dental injuries that a person can suffer and can be left with permanent pain. Trigeminal neuralgia (TN), also known as Trigeminal neuropathy, is a type of chronic pain disorder that involves sudden, severe facial pain. It affects the trigeminal nerve, or fifth cranial nerve, which provides feeling and nerve signalling to many parts of the head and face.
  • Cosmetic Dentistry Claims: Damage or poor appearance following cosmetic dental treatment, and these include implants and crowns and can often result in damage to the surrounding teeth.
  • Non Cosmetic Dental Treatment: Infection, Failure to properly diagnose a dental condition, Delay in diagnosis of a dental condition, Misdiagnosis of a dental condition, Extraction of the wrong tooth, Inadequate root canal treatment, fillings or crowns, Inadequate orthodontic treatment, Failure to treat a dental condition at all
  • Oral Cancer Claims: Undiagnosed mouth cancer can lead to serious illness or death. Your dentist is more likely than your doctor to diagnose mouth cancer, so they should look for signs of mouth cancer at every check-up. If your dental practitioner fails to diagnose mouth cancer or ignores symptoms of mouth cancer, you may be able to make a dental negligence claim.

Whom Can I Claim Against?

You can claim against the dentist or orthodontist personally if they are not covered by the Clinical Indemnity Scheme.   A dentist is usually self employed and will carry their own insurance but not always.

The Medical Practitioners Act 2007  includes dentists as legally recognised medical practitioners in Ireland. They are required to practice dentistry to the highest medical standard. Because dentists are considered medical practitioners, you will have to pursue your claim through a solicitor, as it will not go through the Injuries Board.

How long do I have to bring a claim?

The time limit for dental negligence claims is generally two years from the time of the alleged negligence. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Read on to find out more about the statute of limitations in respect of dental negligence claims.

Exceptions for Dental Negligence Legal Time Limits In Ireland

A patient may not be aware on the date of the alleged dental negligence that any negligence occurred. The person then arguably has two years less one day from the date of discovery of the alleged negligence. This could, for example, occur at a follow-up appointment when the patient discovers information about the origin of the negligence. Or indeed, it may not occur until the patient is in possession of a copy of his or her medical records. It is important to note that the date of discovery is the date the victim has constructive knowledge of the alleged medical negligence, in other words, when the victim should have known about it.

How to Make a Dental Negligence Claim?

If you are unhappy with the treatment that you have received from your dentist, you may wish to contact a solicitor who is an expert in the field of medical negligence to investigate your case.  You should always consult with a solicitor who has expertise in the area of dental and medical negligence as this is a complex area of law, and you should be led by someone with expertise.

  1. The first thing we will do is arrange for you to come in and meet us for a consultation. We will take down the history of treatment and your complaints.   We will then advise  you whether it is worth pursing a claim.
  2. The next thing we will do is take up a copy of your dental records, and where necessary your medical records. We have the experience and expertise to review the records and give you a preliminary opinion on whether you are likely to establish a case of dental negligence.
  3. If we are of the opinion that there may have been negligence on the part of the practitioner who treated you we will instruct an independent expert to carry out a report to consider whether the treatment that you have received is below the standard of care that should normally be applied.

Establishing Negligence

Dentist negligence means that the dental treatment that you received is below the standard of care that one would ordinarily expect to see that a patient should receive from a dentist.  If the independent expert report supports this opinion then you are entitled to bring a claim for negligence, however it is also necessary to show that you suffered an injury because of the negligence, and this is known as causation.

Establishing Causation

It must then be considered that due to the negligent dental treatment that you have received your recovery has been delayed or you have suffered further injury and sustained a loss.  The Expert Report will also need to support this.

Before issuing proceedings in a dental or medical negligence claim, we must have a positive independent expert report from a dental practitioner of equal specialisation who finds the treatment that you were provided with fell below an acceptable standard of care, and because of this you suffered an injury.

What happens next?

When we issue proceedings the insurer for the dentist will instruct solicitors.   We may need to take up further reports, on your condition and prognosis.   With very serious injuries, particularly dental injuries that may result in nerve damage, it will be necessary to consider whether you are still able to work, whether you can still carry on with all of your previous activities of daily living.  We will advise on the appropriate Vocational Representative expert who will assess you and provide us with a Vocational Report if you are claiming for future loss of earnings. We may instruct an Occupational Therapist, a Care Expert, a Psychiatrist if the injury has had a psychological impact on you.   We have even instructed Architects in dental cases where the patient has suffered a serious nerve injury resulting in sensitivity to temperature and as a result will require further insulation for their home.

Will I have to go to court if I bring a dental negligence claim?

The majority of these cases settle outside of court.  This is because we will not proceed with a case unless we are confident that you will win and therefore settlement usually occurs without having to go to court.   However, going to court is always a possibility you must be prepared for.

How much compensation will I get for my dental injury?

This varies very much from case to case as it will depend on the severity of your injury, whether it is permanent, and how it has affected your life.  You can claim for general damages which is compensation for your pain and suffering, but you can also claim for special damages and these are the financial costs resulting from the injury caused. This may cover costs already incurred, such as transport, accommodation, and medical treatment, and expected future expenses such as further medical treatment and loss of earnings.  The damages you receive will be based on the precise injuries suffered, the circumstances of the case and with reference to the Personal Injuries guideline and established case law.

Medical Negligence Solicitors Ireland

We represent clients in dental negligence and medical negligence cases from all over Ireland and not just medical negligence cases in Dublin.   We can accommodate virtual meetings if you have difficulty travelling.