Case Study: Dental Negligence Claim
Mr. S approached Versus Law with a claim of dental negligence following the extraction of a molar, which subsequently resulted in pain and numbness in his lip. This case study highlights the key points and outcomes of Mr. S’s claim.
Referral for Specialist Care:
Upon experiencing persistent pain and numbness in his lip following the molar extraction, Mr. S was referred to a specialist for further examination and treatment. This referral indicated the seriousness of his condition and the need for specialised intervention. We obtained a copy of Mr. S’s dental and medical records (with his written consent) in order to investigate the claim further. We prepared a chronology of the sequence of events and used this to prepare a detailed Letter of Claim, setting out Mr. S’s allegations of breach of statutory duty and negligence against the treating dentist.
Diagnosis of Permanent Nerve Damage:
After undergoing a thorough evaluation by the specialist, Mr. S was diagnosed with permanent nerve damage in his lip. This diagnosis confirmed the severity and lasting impact of the injury he had suffered. We considered the lasting future impact on Mr S’s life, in order to appropriately assess the correct level of compensation that an injury of this nature and magnitude should attract.
Breach of Duty of Care:
It was established during the course of our investigations that Mr S’s dentist had breached their duty of care. The duty of care refers to the responsibility of healthcare professionals to provide treatment in a manner consistent with the accepted standards of the profession. In this case, the dentist failed to meet the required standard of care. Throughout we were assisted by a qualified specialist with a particular expertise in dental negligence to assist us in navigating around the technical terms and the relevant issues.
Improper Procedure Execution:
Further investigation revealed that the dentist had carried out the molar extraction procedure improperly. The specific details of the improper execution were examined and presented as evidence in support of Mr. S’s claim.
Consultation with Dental Expert:
To strengthen Mr. S’s case, we sought the opinion of a dental expert who thoroughly assessed the care provided to Mr. S. The expert identified five points of failure in the treatment process, highlighting specific instances where the standard of care was not met. These findings provided valuable evidence to support Mr. S’s claim. The Dental Expert prepared a Medico-legal Report as expert evidence in support of Mr. S’s claim.
After presenting the gathered evidence, including the assessment by the dental expert, Mr. S’s claim for dental negligence was successful, At court it was recognised the breach of duty of care by the dentist and the subsequent permanent nerve damage suffered by Mr. S. As a result, Mr. S was awarded an Offer of Settlement. However, we felt the Offer of Settlement was a little on the low side and so we negotiated an increased award of £22,000 in damages for the pain, suffering, and loss he experienced due to the dental negligence.
The case of Mr. S exemplifies the consequences of dental negligence and the importance of pursuing legal action to seek compensation for such injuries. Through the referral for specialist care, the diagnosis of permanent nerve damage, and the consultation with a dental expert, Mr. S’s claim was supported by strong evidence. The successful outcome of the case not only provided Mr. S with financial compensation but also highlighted the significance of upholding the duty of care within the dental profession to ensure patient safety and well-being.
The difficulties in proving dental negligence can arise due to various factors. Here are some challenges that may be encountered during the process:
- Establishing the Standard of Care: To prove dental negligence, it is necessary to demonstrate that the dentist breached their duty of care towards the patient. This requires establishing the standard of care expected from a reasonably competent dentist in a similar situation. Determining this standard can be complex as it involves comparing the dentist’s actions with those of their peers and relevant professional guidelines.
- Causation: Proving that the dentist’s actions directly caused the patient’s injury or harm is crucial. In cases of dental negligence, it can be challenging to establish a clear link between the dentist’s conduct and the resulting damage. This difficulty is particularly relevant when dealing with pre-existing conditions or complex medical histories.
- Expert Opinion: In many dental negligence cases, the opinion of an independent dental expert is sought to evaluate the care provided by the dentist. However, it can be challenging to find an expert witness who is experienced in the specific area of dentistry involved in the case and willing to provide a professional opinion. Additionally, different experts may have differing views, adding complexity to the case.
- Lack of Documentation: Insufficient or incomplete documentation of the treatment provided can hinder the process of proving dental negligence. In some cases, dental records may not adequately reflect the treatment procedures performed, making it difficult to establish the sequence of events or identify any deviations from the standard of care.
- Time and Expense: Pursuing a dental negligence claim can be a lengthy and costly process. It requires gathering evidence, obtaining expert opinions, and potentially going through court proceedings. This can place a significant burden on the claimant, who may need to invest significant time, effort, and financial resources to prove their case.
Despite these challenges, successful dental negligence claims can be made with a thorough investigation, expert opinions, and compelling evidence. Each case is unique, and the specific difficulties in proving dental negligence may vary depending on the circumstances involved. It is essential to consult with legal professionals who specialise in medical malpractice or dental negligence cases to navigate through these challenges effectively.
If you have a dental negligence claim or just wish to discuss a possible claim please get in touch with the team at Versus Law Solicitors