As a specialist dental negligence solicitor I am often asked about how much a particular dental claim is worth.
It is worth pointing out that only once all the evidence has been acquired can a proper assessment of damages be made, usually at the pre action protocol letter of claim stage.
Going back to basics, there are two heads of damage. General damages for pain and suffering along with loss of amenity which will include loss or damage to teeth; and Special damages better known as out-of-pocket expenses.
This article concentrates upon how special damages are assessed in a dental negligence claim to give the reader an idea about how much their dental claim is worth.
The burden of proof in a dental claim
Firstly, I would point out that it is up to you as the claimant to prove all of the elements in your claim and the way to do this is with documentary evidence which can be shown to the Court to help prove your losses. The court will not assume that you have sustained any losses unless you tell it and prove it!
What are "special damages?"
Special damages are the out of pocket expenses which arise from your claim and must be linked to the negligent treatment. These parts of your claim must be supported by documentary evidence such as receipts, invoices payslips, accounts and experts reports to name but a few.
How are they put forward?
Initially any claim for special damages are put forward in the pre action protocol letter of claim. If your dental claim is in court proceedings, a barrister will generally draft a "schedule of loss" which is filed at the Court and served upon the other side outlining your out of pocket expenses.
I usually get most of my clients to fill in a special damages questionnaire if I have not gleaned enough information from to draft a suitable schedule of loss or cannot quantify a dental claim properly.
What can the schedule include?
The schedule of loss usually includes both past expenses incurred and future expenses that will be incurred at sometime in the future.
Typical past losses
Payments made to the defendant for dental treatment which was substandard
Payments made to your new dentist for remedial treatment
travelling expenses incurred as a result of travelling to your new dentist for treatment
Loss of earnings
Typical future losses
The cost of remedial dental treatment needed in future
Medicament costs for future care
Future travelling costs
Future loss of earnings if the dental injury has affected you so badly you will not be able to work in future
Some heads of special damages are easier to prove than others. By far the most argued points in dental claims are for future loss of earnings and repeat dental costs.
I can help you to put forward a claim for special damages - contact me for further legal advice on what you may be able to claim for in your dental claim.