Can I claim compensation for nerve damage by a dentist who hit a nerve bundle when she was giving me an injection?

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

There is always the possibility of nerve damage by a dentist when an anaesthetic is injected, but the symptoms are frequently minor. If you have sustained long-term nerve damage (the numbness has been known to last up to eighteen months in the worst cases), it may be possible for you to claim compensation for damaged nerves, provided that it can be proven that your dentist displayed a poor professional performance at the time she administered the injection.

In order to do this, a solicitor would need to discuss with you the treatment you were undergoing at the time, the way in which the injection was administered and whether you dentist acknowledged at the time that she had caused an injury. Depending on the location of the injection, your dentist may have chosen the wrong spot to insert the needle and, once a solicitor has the details of how your injury occurred, he or she would then engage the services of an independent dental expert to establish whether ‘at the time and in the circumstances’ the nerve damage you sustained could have been avoided had greater attention been paid to where the injection was administered.

If the independent dental expert believes that you have a claim for nerve damaged by a dentist, you solicitor will write a ‘Letter of Claim’ to your dentist, advising them that you are making a compensation claim for nerve damage by a dentist, supporting the letter with the evidence of alleged negligence compiled by the dental expert and inviting an offer of settlement.

Should liability be acknowledged for your injury, but a suitable offer of compensation for damaged nerves not be forthcoming, your solicitor will enter into negotiations with the dentist´s medical insurance company (or the HSE if your dental treatment was provided by the Health Service) to obtain an appropriate settlement of your claim for nerves damaged by a dentist. In the unlikely event that liability is denied, your solicitor will issue court proceedings.

It is highly unlikely that your claim for nerves damaged by a dentist will ever be litigated in court as, if your solicitor has compiled a strong case, an insurance company would be unprepared to take a chance on how much compensation for damaged nerves a judge might award in addition to the extra court costs they would be liable for.

However, in order for your solicitor to compile the strongest possible compensation claim for nerve damage by a dentist, it is important that you speak with them while evidence of alleged negligence is still recent. Therefore, it is recommended that you contact a solicitor at the earliest possible opportunity.