Higgs secures £30k after dentist’s negligence

03 February 2022

A woman has successfully recovered £30,000 in compensation for negligent dental treatment – despite being advised by other solicitors the deadline for action had passed.

Michelle Crates-Bird was left requiring corrective surgery and lifelong treatment after a dentist failed to appropriately detect and treat periodontitis, a severe gum infection that can lead to tooth loss and other serious health complications.

Initially, due to the passing of the statute of limitations, it appeared that Mrs Crates-Bird’s recourse to the dentist had elapsed.

However, Clare Langford, Partner in the Higgs LLP medical negligence team, successfully argued the case and subsequently recovered £30,000 in damages.

Mrs Crates-Bird was unaware she had chronic periodontal and bone disease until she visited a new dentist in March 2013, despite regularly attending her previous dentist between March 2011 and March 2013.

As a result of the original dentist’s failure to diagnose and treat the client’s condition, life-long periodontal maintenance, teeth replacement and other dental surgeries will be required.

A General Dental Council investigation into the dental treatment from March 2011 to March 2013 found there had been a fundamental deficiency in the basic clinical practice conducted by the defendant.

Ms Langford said: “This included a failure to diagnose the chronic periodontal and bone disease, as well as a failure to discuss the condition and formulate an effective treatment plan.

“However, as the General Dental Council investigation does not provide remedies for an injured party, our client sought legal advice. Initially, due to the primary limitation period for bringing a claim having passed, it appeared the client may have been too late to bring a claim.

“We were able to agree an extension of the limitation period, arguing the principle that the client’s knowledge stemmed from the date when the General Dental Council’s investigation concluded, rather than when the client had first been told about her periodontal and bone disease and there had been no prejudice to the defendant as a consequence of any delay.”

The remaining issue revolved around quantum. Experts instructed by the client and the defendant both agreed there had been negligent dental care, but a consensus could not be reached regarding the future impact this would have on the client’s dental health and thus the remedies required to maintain her dental health.

Negotiations took place with the defendant submitting multiple Part 36 offers ranging from £10,000 to £25,000, all of which were rejected.

Court proceedings were issued and the defendant submitted a final Part 36 offer. The claim settled in Mrs Crates-Bird’s favour for the sum of £30,000.

Ms Langford added: “This is a great example of Higgs advising on a case on behalf a client where others may not have seen the merits in the case. The client had given up hope and is so grateful for what Higgs has done.”

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