Practice owners and vicarious liability

In some cases, a practice owner may be liable for the acts and omissions of someone they employ or engage to provide services. As a result, claims are sometimes brought against a practice owner rather than, or as well as, the dentist or dental care professional who treated the patient. In light of this, we now provide an additional indemnity benefit to our practice principal members alleged to be vicariously liable for the clinical negligence of a treating clinician.

Indemnity for clinical negligence claims pleaded vicariously against a practice principal is included as a standard benefit of DDU membership for dental practice principals. This applies to claims that you first became aware of (and which were first notified to us) after 1 June 2021.

This benefit is provided on an occurrence basis meaning that you can ask for our assistance as long as you are (or were) a DDU practice principal member at the time the incident happened. This benefit does not replace the need for all dentists working at your practice to have their own individual indemnity in place. It is a legal requirement that all dental professionals MUST have adequate and appropriate indemnity in place for their work.

As a dental principal you should obtain and retain a valid certificate of individual indemnity from associates and other dental professionals working at your practice.

We are able to provide this benefit at no additional cost as we expect the indemnity held by the treating clinician to respond to any claims brought vicariously against a practice principal. Where their indemnity does not respond to a claim then we would usually look to join the treating clinician in to the claim and/or seek to recover any costs and damages paid on your behalf.

You can rely on our support for

  • The payment of defence costs incurred in defending clinical negligence claims where allegations are brought against a practice principal member on a vicarious basis.
  • Paying compensation and claimant’s legal costs, in clinical negligence claims, where recovery from the treating dentist or their indemnity provider was not successful.
  • Defence costs (but not damages or the claimant’s legal costs) for claims about sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, discrimination, health and safety breaches, systematic neglect or unlawful conduct by dentists/ dental care professionals (DCPs) that are engaged by the dental practice principal, arising from clinical practice and which the practice principal member is alleged to be vicariously liable.

When we are unlikely to provide support

  • If you have not taken reasonable steps to make sure the treating dentist/DCP held appropriate and adequate indemnity whilst working at your practice.
  • If the treating dentist/DCP did not have appropriate or adequate indemnity in place relating to the treatment in question. This includes a lack of (or inadequate) run-off cover where indemnity was provided on a claims made basis.
  • Claims brought either in part or in whole against another practice principal/partner/ owner/company director except to the extent of your proportionate share of any such joint and several liability.
  • Any existing claim or matter which was already known about by you, before 1 June 2021.
  • Where indemnity is available from another provider.
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