Dentist Malpractice

Is it possible to claim compensation for dentist malpractice if my dentist injected anaesthetic directly into my tongue?

It should be possible to claim compensation for dental malpractice if you have been subsequently been diagnosed with a nerve injury of the tongue – either a lingual nerve injury or tongue paresthesia – due to your dentist´s lack of care. There is no justifiable defence against a claim for nerve damage due to dental negligence, as the fact that a dentist administered an anaesthetic directly into your tongue represents a lack of skill or the inability to demonstrate that skill – effectively dentist malpractice.

However, unlike most other personal injury claims in Ireland, an application to assess a claim for nerve damage due to dental negligence will be declined by the Injuries Board on the grounds that a dentist is a medical practitioner, and dentist malpractice constitutes medical negligence – something that the Injuries Board has no remit to assess. Therefore you will have to engage the services of a solicitor to pursue compensation for a dental injury – which is not as daunting as it first sounds if you have never dealt with a solicitor before.

In order to make a compensation claim for dentist malpractice, you solicitor will ask you to explain the circumstances of your visit to the dentist (for example, treatment was required or it was just a check-up), what problem the dentist had identified that led him to administer an anaesthetic and whether you have received a professional medical opinion subsequently for the injury to your tongue (there is not much you can do for a lingual nerve injury, but the injury should be recorded in your medical history to support a claim for nerve damage due to dental negligence).

Even though the injury to your tongue is an obvious case of dental malpractice, the solicitor may need to have an independent dental expert review your case to add professional credibility to your claim. If your solicitor can send the dental practice or hospital at which you underwent treatment a ‘Letter of Claim’ supported by evidence of negligence provided by a specialist in the field, it is unlikely that your claim for dentist malpractice will be contested and your settlement of compensation for a dental injury resolved much quicker.

How much compensation for dental malpractice you will receive will depend on the length of time you are likely to experience symptoms of paresthesia and the effect this has on your quality of life and – depending on your profession – you ability to work. There is rarely any pain associated with a lingual nerve injury, but if you develop a confidence issue or other psychological injury, that factor would also be included in your claim for nerve damage due to dental negligence.

Understandably, you may not be able to speak with anybody right now, but you should still make contact with an experienced medical negligence solicitor (by e-mail or through a friend) to receive an accurate assessment of your claim for dentist malpractice compensation while you are still incapacitated from your injury. The urgency is because, in several months time, you may not remember all the negative impact that your injury had on your quality of life and it would be advisable to communicate any incapacity you experience to a solicitor at the first practical opportunity.

This is an Information site only – if you feel you have a potential claim, you should discuss your situation with a solicitor registered with the Law Society of Ireland.