Suing for Dental Negligence
For those who feel that they have been on the receiving end of dental malpractice it can be hard to know where to turn for advice. Many people have never gone through the process of suing an individual or an organization before and may not know where to start. This is something that is well known to those who offer legal aid to victims of dental negligence and they are there to offer a helping hand.
Dental negligence is any dental related injury caused by a dental professional who has not taken the correct measures or care when performing a treatment or diagnosing a problem. Essentially it's when human error has resulted in harm that was otherwise avoidable or unnecessary. Anything that falls under this definition can lead to a claim of compensation for dental negligence. More and more people are turning to Smith Jones | dental negligence solicitors for help in making a claim of dental negligence. Successful claims can lead to compensation.
The question for many people is how do they go about this? They ask themselves all sorts of questions. Do I have a claim? Will it be worth the hassle? Am I wasting a lawyers time? Sadly questions like this can stop people, who do have a legitimate claim, from getting in touch with a specialist solicitor. Doing so can lead to them successfully getting the compensation they deserve. Fortunately most specialist solicitors now offer a free no obligation consultation to help people determine if they have a case or not.
The consultation is the first stage of the process. It's designed to be a fact-finding exercise to help the client learn if legal action against their dental professional is the best course of action without the pressure or an expensive bill at the end of the meeting. This allows the client to ask all the questions they wish to an expert in order to make the right decision.
All dentists have a duty of care towards their patients. It's a legal and moral standard that all dental professionals must comply with. If a dentist is found to be in breach of this then they may have caused damage to a patient.
When starting legal proceedings against a dental professional it is the injured parties responsibility to identify exactly how they have sustained damages, identify what those damages are, and to prove that negligence on the part of their dentist was indeed the cause. Luckily this is what a specialist solicitor would help the victim of dental negligence achieve.
Once you have had your free consultation, identified where you have sustained damages and established that you do indeed have a case, victims of dental negligence are then assigned a their own legal representative. This representative may be one person or a team of people that serve as a point of contact and are happy to handhold the client through the whole process.
The next stage is agreeing on how the case will be funded. As most specialist solicitors in the UK are initially funded by 'The Law Society' they are able to offer a 'no win no fee' case, meaning victims of dental negligence will not have to reach into their own pocket for to pay for their legal costs. Once funding is organized the specialist solicitors need to carry out what's known as a Clinical Assessment for the client. Before they can do so though they need to apply for their client's dental records.
This part of the case can take several months but it will allow the specialist solicitors all the evidence they need to support the case. Once received the Clinical Assessment stage can begin. This entails an independent fully trained dentist working on behalf of your solicitors examining the case in detail along with your records to provide their professional opinion. This lends enormous weight and credibility to the case and, should it continue at this point, can almost certainly lead to victory in court. If however the dentist advises the specialist solicitor that the case may not lead to victory and it cannot continue, then the client still does not need to pay anything for the time and resources used.
After this important stage is completed then the client is allocated a personal lawyer or solicitor, if in the UK, for the remaining duration of the case who will be the one to represent them in court. At this point the specialist solicitor will create a 'Letter of Claim' (with the clients approval), which contains the details of the case such as how much compensation is expected. This is sent to the court, and to the accused parties insurance company whom would be the ones paying out if their client were found culpable.
The insurance company representing the dental professional that has been accused of negligence, then has four months to respond with their own letter officially referred to as a 'Letter of Response'. Here several things can happen: The insurer may offer a 'Settlement Agreement'; this means that the dentist has accepted liability and compensation will be offered to the victim. If this is acceptable then compensation is granted and the case ends successfully. If the offer is not good enough then the specialist solicitor will reject the offer and request that it is revised. If the settlement is rejected entirely by either side then the case will indeed progress to court, where an appointed Judge will settle it. It is usually cheaper for the insurer to settle before court in the first or second offer, therefore most choose to do this but it can depend on the strength of the case and the amount of compensation requested.This whole process can take nearly a year to complete, but for those who feel they've been on the receiving end of dental negligence, going through it was worth it in the end. Fortunately specialist solicitors & lawyers do most of the hard work and heavy lifting involved. Their doors are always open to help people who are in need of advice or to find out if they themselves have a claim.