I am writing the day after I underwent my third trip to the dentist in three weeks: the dreaded root canal treatment. Lucky me!
Yesterday, in 90 minutes of treatment, my new crown was measured up. One more session left…. Fortunately, I have a brilliant NHS dentist who hasn’t broken my bank account. I appreciate that many of our readers aren’t able to get an NHS dentist.
Having had several hours, mouth stretched open, lying in the dentist chair with nothing to do other than contemplating my predicament, I composed this blog in my head.
- 1. If your personal injury case (or teeth) is complex, get a second opinion
Upon entering the dental treating rooms three week ago I was struck that my dentist appeared younger than I expected. I didn’t ask how much experience she had: she was a dentist and that’s all that, at first, mattered to me.
I explained my symptoms – pain, somewhere hard to pinpoint, in my gums. My dentist took x-rays and, just as she thought, it appeared that I had an infection. The solution: root canal treatment. There aren’t many more scary-sounding words that those.
My dentist then did something welcome but wholly unexpected. She asked the dental nurse to summon the lead senior dentist for a second opinion on the x-rays. The senior dentist came in, studied the x-rays, and came to the same conclusion.
That was on the first treatment – and during the next two sessions the senior dentist came in, every ten minutes, to inspect the work from his underling, often taking over (apparently my roots are particularly long and therefore difficult to do what they have do with), passing comment on the work.
Although at times my junior dentist seemed somewhat embarrassed to kowtow to her senior dentist in front of a patient, I thought that it took guts to get a second opinion in the first instance. Rather than filling me with worry that my junior dentist didn’t know what she was doing, my confidence in her and the treatment more generally skyrocketed. Two brains are better than one.
In my law firm, Truth Legal, I encourage our lawyers – whether they are experienced or less experienced – to seek a second opinion from their colleagues and to let their clients know that that’s what they are doing. It is, clearly, a sign of confidence, a sign of strength, to have the guts to get a second opinion. So, if your case is even a little bit complex, have the guts to ask your lawyer to get a second opinion from within the same firm. Often we instruct a barrister in complex cases to give us a second opinion, usually under the No Win, No Fee agreement.
If you lose confidence in your personal injury law firm, and are considering switching solicitors, let the team at Truth Legal give you a second opinion on your case. Since founding the firm, I have lost track of the number of clients who have dropped their lawyers, moving the case to us, so that we can get a better result before it settles. Once a claim is settled, then it is finished (unless you get provisional damages).
- Ask for your personal injury lawyer’s experience in cases like yours
Although my firm sues negligent dentists, doctors, lawyers, when I was presented with a dentist who had clearly done very few root canal treatments on her own, I still didn’t ask her whether she had had a patient like me before. I didn’t ask whether her previous root canal treatments had gone well. She had a the hallmarks of being a competent dentist: white coat, tools, dentist chair!
In a similar vain, I can count on one hand the number of times that a prospective client has asked me whether I have had a case like theirs before. I encourage all people to ask any professional for their qualifications, experience and outcomes. Knowledge is power. Don’t assume that all personal injury lawyers (or any professionals) are qualified, nor that they have won a case like yours before. Ask, ask, ask. Make an informed decision.
- Teamwork between personal injury lawyer and client is key
Over the many hours in the dentist’s chair the words that were spoken most frequently to me, were:
“Can you open a little bit wider.”
I must admit that I found it hard to keep my mouth open so unusually wide for as long as I did. Each time I was asked to “Open just a little bit wider” I felt like I had let the dentist down. It got me thinking: the dentist and the patient are a team. The dentist simply cannot do their job if the patient doesn’t fully open their mouths. Obvious, obvious but true.
Similarly, we personal injury lawyers need you – the clients – to work in collaboration with us. If you don’t help the process, then the result will be poor. Give us all the documents, bits of paper, emails, receipts, etc, at the start of the claim and every time that you come across useful things for your case. Volunteer information to us – we won’t laugh if you give us too much information. We love to work in partnership with our clients. Teams get better results.
- Googling is your friend
Ok, so I’m a little squeamish and so didn’t want to Google what root canal treatment entailed, nor did I want to know about the various options for crowns. My dentist was gobsmacked that I hadn’t researched the options. I would have been in a much more clued-up position had I undertaken some research before commencing the treatment. Googling would have helped my dentist and me.
In a similar way, when we have clients who have been scouring the internet for information which might assist their case often this is helpful. Knowledge is power – hence why we give away so much free content on our websites. Online articles, or Ebooks like mine here give our clients ideas as how to legitimately maximise the value of their claims. Although some doctors frown upon patients who Google their symptoms, I encourage personal injury clients to Google if they want. I would ignore Personal Injury Calculators, but some blogs can be really helpful.
Remember: clean your teeth!