Dental Negligence Claim Time Limits

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If you've had substandard dental care, or if your dentist or dental nurse has been negligent in their care towards you, resulting in an injury or the contraction of an illness or a disease, you might well be able to make a claim for compensation – as long as you can prove that the injury, illness or disease you are suffering from would not have otherwise occurred without the intervention of your dentist or dental nurse. However, there is a strict time limit when it comes to dental negligence claims within the UK, and it's very rare that that time limit is extended.

Statute of Limitations
In the UK, the Statute of Limitations was introduced in 1980. This legislation was imposed so that the individual seeking to make a claim had the best possible chance of proving negligence, and so that the individual that the claim is being made against (dentist, dental nurse, doctor) could have the best possible chance of proving that their actions were not negligent. In most cases, this time limit is non-negotiable.

Time Limit
The time limit for dental negligence claims within the UK is three years. This means that you have three years from the date that the injury was first sustained, or three years from the date that you were diagnosed with an illness or disease. However, if you didn't know that you had sustained an injury for a number of months until after you had sustained it, the time limit actually starts on the date that you first knew about the injury. The issue with this is that you may well have to work a little bit harder to prove that you didn't know about the injury at an earlier date.

Are There Any Exceptions?
The only exceptions to this three year time limit are children and mentally incapacitated adults. For children, the three years time limit starts on the date of their 18th birthday, meaning that they have until their 21st birthday to make a claim – this only applies, however, if they are making the claim on their own behalf. If their injury, illness or disease was particularly severe, a parent can make a claim on their child's behalf in order to claim compensation for their child's care. If the child doesn't need the money immediately, it will be put into a trust fund for them to get access to when they turn 18.
The only other exception to the rule is mentally incapacitated adults. If they are unable to make a claim for themselves, the three year time limit may never apply. In general, the adult will have three years from the date that they are able to think for themselves to make a claim. However, a parent or a carer can make a claim on behalf of the adult if the compensation is needed for their ongoing care.

If you have any questions about dental negligence time limits, speak to a dental negligence solicitor for more information.

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