Can I Claim Compensation If I Have Suffered A Dental Injury?
It is perhaps not the most common type of injury when you think of a personal injury claim but in fact dental injuries are surprisingly common. Over the years that I have worked as a Claimant Personal Injury Solicitor, I have noticed an increase in these claims. They can range in severity from a single broken tooth to the loss of multiple teeth with associated jaw injuries requiring treatment over a significant period of time.
Accidents involving dental injuries
Claims involving dental injuries are not limited to individuals biting into foreign objects, although these types of cases are fairly common. I have also acted for a child who fell from a defective climbing frame breaking several teeth as well adults who have been the victim of assault where dental and facial injuries have been sustained. Common accidents are also trips or slips. A more serious case involved an individual who fell from their bicycle and broke their jaw as well as a number of teeth.
Proving the injury
As with all personal injury claims, once liability (fault) has been established, it is necessary to prove the extent of the injury by obtaining medical evidence. A dental expert is instructed to comment on the injury and whether there is a causative link to the accident.
The expert will also comment on the treatment that is required as a result of the accident. It is only treatment that is needed as a direct result of the accident that can be claimed from the defendant. Therefore, if an individual has a broken tooth as a result of the accident, the cost of replacing the tooth will be recoverable, but if they have not been to the dentist in the last 5 years and require fillings as well, this won’t be recoverable as it is not linked to the accident.
Valuing dental injuries
Dental injuries are valued in the same way as other personal injury claims by considering case law and also by using the Judicial College Guideline (JCG). Surprisingly, a simple broken tooth does not attract much by way of compensation. The JCG state that the loss of or damage to a back tooth is in the region of £1,090 to £1,710, increasing to £8,730 to £11,410 where several front teeth have been damaged or lost.
The value of a claim will depend on the extent of the treatment required, the degree of discomfort of such treatment and whether there is any difficulty with eating.
In the more serious case referred to above, the individual not only broke several teeth but also fractured their jaw. This caused the jaw to be displaced resulting in clicking, an altered bite as well as permanent numbness and the risk of osteoarthritis. In this case a Consultant Maxillofacial Surgeon, a Dental Surgeon as well as a Consultant Psychiatrist were needed to comment on my client’s injuries. Given the extent of the injuries and the treatment required, the compensation in a case like this was significant.
The psychological impact of dental injuries can be severe. In cases where front teeth are missing this may prevent the injured person from leaving the house, attending work and relationships may be affected. If treatment is delayed or particularly extensive this can have a negative impact on an individual’s wellbeing. The incident itself causing the dental injuries is often quite traumatic. As a result, psychological injuries are often associated with dental injuries.
What tends to significantly increase the value of dental injury claims is the treatment that is required. As most people know, dental treatment can be incredibly expensive. Often treatment is not a one off but follow up appointments are required. As stated above, the cost of any treatment that is required as a direct result of the accident can be claimed from the defendant. When a case settles, the cost of any future treatment that is required will also be included in the settlement.
As with all personal injury claims, the claimant is able to recover other losses and expenses incurred as a result of the accident. Whilst dental treatment is the most common expense, loss of earnings if time off work has been required is also often claimed. Travel and prescription costs may also be included. It is important to keep a record of all expenses incurred as well as evidence to support the loss such as receipts, bank statements and payslips.
Whilst the compensation itself for a simple broken tooth may be minimal, the cost of the associated treatment and other losses may be significant. A delay in seeking treatment may make the injuries worse and this could affect the level of compensation. It is therefore important that an individual who has sustained dental injuries seeks assistance as soon as possible so that a claim can be initiated and treatment arranged as soon as possible.