Making a claim against your dentist
If you’re looking to sue your dentist following a treatment you’re not happy with, our team of expert lawyers at the Dental Law Partnership will be able to help.
Making a dental negligence claim can be a straightforward process when you have the right support and guidance from professionals in the field.
Do you have a claim?
In order to find out whether you’re entitled to dental negligence compensation, the first thing you need to do is discuss your case with one of our skilled solicitors and dentists. We will then be able to review the necessary actions needed to proceed with ensuring you receive the amount you deserve.
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For free initial legal advice, fill out Our online Claim Form below, call us on Freephone 0800 0853 823, or request a call back using our form to the right.
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The Claim Process
We will endeavour to achieve a negotiated settlement of your dental negligence claim. The majority of claims are resolved at a relatively early stage and without the need to commence court proceedings. However on occasion a dentist may strongly resist a claim or additional information may come to light which affects the strength of the claim. Sometimes it is necessary to commence court proceedings in order to resolve the claim.
If we have to commence court proceedings in your case the procedure will be as follows;
- Director Review
- Independent Expert Evidence
- Issue of Court Proceedings
- Service of Court Proceedings
- The Defence
- Exchange of Evidence
- Expert Meeting
- Offers of Settlement
Before we commence court proceedings your case will be reviewed by one of our Directors. The commencement of court proceedings can be expensive and it sets in place a strict court timetable for the exchange of evidence before trial. The Director will ensure that we are ready to commence court proceedings and that your case is of sufficient strength and value to justify incurring the additional costs.
Before commencing court proceedings we will also ensure that you have legal expenses insurance cover in place.
Independent Expert Evidence
In order to take a case to court we must have supportive evidence from an independent dental expert. Your solicitor will advise you if it is necessary to instruct an independent expert. In some cases you may need to attend the expert for examination and your solicitor will give you plenty of notice if this is necessary and help you to arrange the appointment.
The independent expert will consider your claim, possibly examine you, and prepare a report stating whether the treatment you received was negligent and identifying what injury or loss you have suffered as a result.
If we have to commence court proceedings it is likely that we will also have to instruct a barrister to draft court documents in relation to your claim. If your case is particularly complicated the barrister may wish to have a conference with you, your solicitor and possibly the independent expert, to clarify matters.
Issue of Court Proceedings
This is the step which commences your case in court. Your solicitor will send a Claim Form to court. The Claim Form includes the name and address of you and the Defendant (the dentist), and sets out very briefly the nature of your case. The Court will register details of your claim and mark the claim form to confirm the date on which it was issued.
Service of Court Proceedings
Within 4 months of the date on which the Claim Form was issued you must ‘serve proceedings’ on the Defendant’s solicitor. A number of documents make up the court ‘proceedings’ and these are;
- The Claim Form
- The ‘Particulars of Claim’ – this is a document, drafted by your barrister, which sets out the legal basis of your claim, the allegations of negligence and details of your injury
- A Condition and Prognosis report – this is a medical report prepared by your independent dental expert which sets out the injuries you have suffered as a result of negligent treatment and identifies any corrective treatment you may require in the future, and
- A Schedule of Loss – this document sets out the financial losses you have and will incur as a result of negligent treatment.
The Defendant will then serve a Defence which explains which allegations are admitted and which are denied. The Defendant may argue that the treatment was not negligent. Alternatively the Defendant may argue that although the treatment was negligent, it has not affected your dental condition in any material way or caused you to suffer an injury.
Exchange of Evidence
Following service of the Defence, the court will set a timetable for the exchange of evidence through to trial. We will exchange the following evidence with the Defendant:
- Details and copies of all documents to be considered at trial – these may include the relevant dental records and x-rays and documentary evidence of any financial loss you may have incurred.
- Witness statements – both parties must serve statements from the people who will give evidence at trial. Usually you will provide a witness statement in support of your claim. You may have friends or family members who can also give evidence to support your claim. The Defendant will usually serve a statement setting out what he did and why he did it.
- Liability and Causation evidence – your independent dental expert will prepare this medical report setting out why they consider that your treatment was negligent and how it has caused your injury. The Defendant may serve a medical report from another expert which explains why his treatment was not negligent. It is ultimately for the trial Judge to decide which expert opinion he prefers.
This exchange of evidence is vital so that we understand the reasoning of the expert who supports the Defendant’s treatment. Equally it enables the Defendant to understand why your expert is critical of the treatment you have received.
Both independent experts will meet to discuss their opinions and to identify those aspects of the claim on which they agree and disagree. In this way the real issues in dispute can be isolated and these become the focus of the trial.
Offers of Settlement
Either party can make an offer to settle the case at any time. It is not unusual for several offers to be exchanged during the course of a claim. However, if you decide to reject an offer of settlement it can have implications in relation to the payment of legal costs. Therefore your solicitor will provide you with full advice regarding any settlement proposals which are received, and will ensure that all offers of settlement are considered very carefully.
It is very rare for a case to proceed to trial. Even if it is necessary to commence court proceedings, most cases will settle before they reach trial.
Before the trial, your barrister will usually want to meet with you, your solicitor and your expert to discuss the evidence. At the trial your case will be presented by your barrister who will be familiar with the claim. The trial Judge will listen to evidence from each Party, their experts and barrister. The Judge will then decide whether the Defendant provided negligent treatment and if so, whether this treatment caused your injury. If the Judge decides in your favour he or she will also decide how much compensation you should receive.