What You Can Expect From Us
Our Client Care Policy
“The Dental Law Partnership specialises in dental negligence. We believe that focusing on this area we are able to provide the best possible service for all our clients, who can rely on both our in-house dental and legal expertise and our creative legal thinking in the field.
From the moment you contact us we will take the time to listen to you, and take care to communicate with you using non-technical language. We act only for dental patients like you, and will work with the utmost professionalism, efficiency and confidentiality to support you in your claim. We have chosen to make our mission that of providing the highest quality access to justice for the dental patient, and we are committed to do everything we can to ensure that you are satisfied with the service we provide.”
How We Can Help You
With our specialist expertise and many years experience of ‘no win no fee’ dental negligence cases, we know that each client’s case is unique. Because of this, we perceive a partnership between you and us as the best way of seeing a case through to a successful conclusion. We feel that it is important for you to know what you can expect from us if you choose us to help you with your dental claim.
So we have set out this brief guide as to how clients can expect their claims to progress – details of the steps we take and some information about parts of the process, which are distinctive to the specialised service, which we offer.
- Your first contact with us
- Our claim questionnaire
- Questionnaire assessment
- Your own legal representative in the new client team
- Funding your claim
- No win – no fee agreement
- Getting the records
- Clinical assessment
- Allocation of a solicitor
- The Letter of Claim
- The Letter of Response and settlement
1. Your first contact with us
Our relationship with clients usually begins with a telephone call to our freephone number 0800 0853 823, which connects you to one of our new client team. A member of our team will listen to your problem and be able to advise on your legal rights and, from experience of many previous dental cases, discuss whether a claim could possibly be brought in the circumstances.
Alternatively some clients prefer to email us on firstname.lastname@example.org, and other people obtain free legal advice from us using our website based online service.
2. Our claim questionnaire
If a claim is being considered a member of the new client team will then arrange a convenient time to contact you to complete a claim questionnaire over the telephone which asks you for details of your claim and general information about the firm. We can also send the claim questionnaire by post or alternatively the form is available on the website and can be submitted online.
3. Questionnaire assessment
Once the telephone questionnaire has been completed or you have submitted the form online or returned it to us in the post, the questionnaire will be read and assessed by one of the firm’s directors – three of whom are solicitors and dentally qualified. We will then contact you to let you know whether we can take your case on or whether we may need some further information. Sometimes we consider that the case may not stand a good chance of success and if so we write to you to explain why.
4. Your own legal representative in the new client team
If we are able to accept the case then the initial stage of your case will be handled by a member of the new client team. Your member of the new client team will be your point of contact throughout the initial part of your claim and will be available to answer all your queries and guide you through the process until the case reaches the clinical assessment stage. If you visit the Our People page on the site you will find further information including the contact details of each member of our team.
5. Funding your claim
The first thing the new client team will do is discuss with you over the telephone how your case is to be funded.
There is a range of funding arrangements to pay for legal representation. At the very start of your case we will consider the arrangements available and advise you of the most appropriate funding option for you. We will also advise you regarding the likely cost of pursuing a claim against your dentist.
Legal aid is available for certain high value and complicated dental negligence claims for clients who satisfy certain financial criteria. We will advise whether you and your claim are eligible for legal aid.
Once you have signed and returned the funding agreement we will be acting on your behalf and we will deal with the dentist and his/her insurers on your behalf.
6. No win – no fee agreement
Most of our cases are funded on Law Society approved Conditional Fee Agreements (in other words ‘no win – no fee’ agreements).
In this country the general rule is that the loser in litigation pays the winner’s costs. We protect you against this possible outcome by ensuring that you have legal expenses insurance in place.
7. Getting the records
The first step of our investigation of your case is to obtain all the relevant dental records. This will be done by your legal representative in the new client team. Depending on the records required it can take 3 or 4 months to obtain all of the relevant records.
8. Clinical assessment
Once we have obtained all of the relevant records, our in-house dental experts will then carry out a detailed clinical assessment of your case. Your case file is read by both a Director and also a qualified dentist who will review your dental records and x-rays and who, by applying their dental knowledge and many years experience of dental cases, will assess the strength of your case.
We know from the experience of assessing thousands of cases that it is only when the dental records are obtained that we can fully assess the case. Occasionally at this stage we find potential problems with the case and we may advise clients not to continue. However, if this should happen you can be assured that your potential claim has been expertly and thoroughly assessed at no charge to you.
In some cases we need to have clients examined in order for us to be able to reach a decision. If this is required we will arrange for you to see one of our experts.
9. Allocation of a solicitor
Once the clinical assessment of your case has been completed your case will be handed over to a solicitor who will represent you during the rest of the case. Your allocated solicitor will be your first point of contact and will be available to answer all your queries and guide you through the process until a settlement is reached.
10. The Letter of Claim
Your solicitor will next prepare a detailed “Letter of Claim”. This is a step which we must take under Court Rules and this letter sets out the details of your case and explains to the dentist’s insurer why we consider that you have a valid claim and what we consider your claim to be worth. We will, of course, send the Letter of Claim to you for approval before it is submitted to the dentist’s insurer.
11. The Letter of Response and settlement
Once we have finalised the Letter of Claim we send it to the dentist’s insurer who then, under the Court Rules, has 4 months in which to provide a detailed reply in a “Letter of Response”.
We find that it can take around a year from taking on a new case until we receive the insurers’ “Letter of Response”. We sometimes encounter delays in obtaining records or additional evidence and the length of time it takes for us to carry out our detailed clinical assessment can vary depending on the volume of work. Once we submit a Letter of Claim we often find that the dentist’s insurers do not provide a Letter of Response within the 4 month period.
In many of our cases the “Letter of Response” we receive from the dentists’ insurers includes an offer to settle the case and a settlement can be achieved at this time. Sometimes the initial offer is not good enough and with negotiation a higher offer is received and settlement can be achieved.
Unfortunately, sometimes the dentist’s insurers deny the case and make no offer of settlement. We then need to move things forward for you by considering whether it is appropriate to commence court proceedings – full details of which are set out in this site on the Claim Process page.