What is dental negligence?
Dental negligence is a complicated area of law, but in essence, a dentist will be negligent if they provide you with treatment which falls below the minimum standard of care, or skill, which the dental profession would regard as being acceptable in your case. The dentist is therefore judged by the standard of the average competent dentist.
Dental Negligence & Causation Explained
In order to claim damages from your dentist for negligent dental treatment, you need to be able to prove three things:
That you have suffered a dental injury;
That your dentist did something to your teeth that he or she was not supposed to do, or in fact failed to do something to your teeth that he or she was in fact supposed to do; (a breach of duty of care-the actual dental negligence)
That the dental injury you suffered was caused by something that the dentist did or failed to do (causation of injury)
Breach of duty / Causation / Injury - must all be proved, usually using evidence in the form an experts report from an independent dental negligence expert (not your treating dentist) in order to make a valid dental claim for dental neglect. The dental negligence expert will criticise the treatment that has been carried out in the form a independent dental negligence report.
It is quite common to find in dental negligence claims that a breach of duty has occurred, or rather that the dentist has acted (or failed to act) in a way in which was substandard. However, it is not enough in dental negligence law to prove that the negligence made a difference to the outcome, this has to be proved “upon the balance of probabilities”. i.e, a greater than 50% chance.
Some dental negligence claims which are strong upon liability/breach of duty can fail upon causation, and this argument is often put forward by the legal teams acting for the dentists accused of negligent treatment. I understand that bringing a dental claim and the issues surrounding breach of duty and causation are complex, but you can rest assured that I shall explain matters more fully at the appropriate time in your dental case.
For example, in a periodontal dental negligence claim or a claim for gum disease, it is quite often argued by the dentists insurers that the patient failed to regularly attend dental appointments or failed to listen to the dentist when he or she was advising them to see a hygienist more regularly or perhaps gave advice to see a periodontist which was ignored. These types of legal argument are commonly raised when running a dental claim for periodontal or gum disease to try and help the dentist accused of dental negligence limit their liability.