Dental Negligence / Malpractice – Suing a Dentist

Dental Negligence or Dental Malpractice is very common and patients who think that they have been affected need to seek legal advice promptly as time limits apply in all personal injury claims.

Dental Negligence

Dentists like all other professionals can be sued in negligence.  If  the dental work performed was below the standard which can be expected from a reasonably competent dentist AND the poor quality dental work caused harm to the patient.

Lack of Consent

Dentists can also be sued if they fail to get fully informed consent for the dental work they perform.

Dental Negligence – Case Examples

Orthodontic Negligence

Freddy saw Dr Teeth, Dr Teeth was a general dentist, not an orthodontist.  He advised Freddy that he was more than capable of performing orthodontic work and he was much cheaper than the orthodontist.  Freddy agreed and Dr Teeth set to work.  Unfortunately, Dr Teeth had only attended a short course in orthodontics and could only perform basic orthodontic services.  Dr Teeth’s treatment did not work as Freddy’s teeth were more complex and he needed an actual orthodontist.

Freddy would be able to sue Dr Teeth for:

  • The failure to refer Freddy to an orthodontist;
  • The failure to inform Freddy that he needed more complex orthodontic treatment;
  • The failure to inform Freddy that his basic orthodontic treatment could never achieve the results Freddy was seeking;
  • Any damage which was done to Freddy’s teeth during Dr Teeth’s treatment; and
  • Any pain and suffering, lost income and extra expenses which were associated with Dr Teeth’s treatment.

Poor Quality Treatment

Debbie saw Dr Drill, Dr Drill was a general dentist.  Debbie had dental problems and wide spread dental decay due to a medical condition.  Dr Drill did not help Debbie to stop her dental decay and instead performed expensive dental work on Debbie’s teeth.  Debbie needed more and more work as her fillings kept falling out, as the basic dental work to control the decay has not been done.  Debbie   

Debbie would be able to sue Dr Drill for:

  • The failure to investigate the underlying decay;
  • The failure to treat the underlying decay;
  • Performing dental work without treating the underlying decay;
  • Performing dental work which was unlikely to work due to the underlying decay;
  • Any damage which was done to Debbie’s teeth during Dr Drill’s treatment; and
  • Any pain and suffering, lost income and extra expenses which were associated with Dr Drill’s treatment.

Dental Mistakes

Victor saw Dr Denture as he had injured his top front left tooth in a skiing accident and needed it to be removed and prepared for a dental implant.  Dr Denture was confused and removed the top front right tooth by mistake.  Dr Denture then removed the correct tooth, but Victor then needed two implants rather than one.

Victor would be able to sue Dr Denture for:

  • The removal of the wrong tooth;
  • The removal of a healthy front tooth;
  • The costs of the implant;
  • The costs of future implants;
  • Any damage which was done to Victor’s teeth during Dr Denture’s treatment;
  • Any pain and suffering, lost income and extra expenses which were associated with Dr Denture’s mistake.

Over Treatment

There is a landmark consent legal case called Dean v Phung [2012] NSWCA 223.  This case involved a dentist who implanted a large number of unnecessary crowns into the patient’s mouth.  The patient had consented to the treatment, but he only consented because the dentist told him that he needed the crowns.  He did not need the crowns.  The court found that the patient had only consented because of the dentist’s fraud.  The court held the consent had been vitiated by the fraud.  The dentist was found to have assaulted the patient and the patient was able to recover compensation for the civil assault.

The Dental Negligence Claims Process at Remedy Law Group

  1. The Remedy Law solicitor will take an initial statement from you and ask you to sign consent forms and a costs agreement.
  • The Remedy Law solicitor will request your dental records.
  • The Remedy Law solicitor will discuss the dental records with you in relation to whether you have a case against your dentist.
  • An expert dentist will then be briefed and a report will be requested.
  • If the claim is for a small amount a settlement will be attempted with the dental insurer.
  • If the claim is for a larger amount court documents will be filed.  Settlement will be attempted via a mediation.

If you would like further information, get in touch for a free initial consultation about our no win no fee service.