One thing that every business owner dreads is someone taking legal action against them, and it is a fact that dentists are not immune from this happening to them. A business can be taken to court for all sorts of reasons, and whilst some claims may be spurious and thrown out before they ever see the inside of a courtroom, many others are genuine and must be handled correctly.
For any dentists who may have been given notice that they or their dental business is subject to a legal claim, the one thing that must be avoided is to panic. Being sued or taken court is not something that happens to someone every day, and when it does occur it can come as a complete shock. However, getting stressed and panicking is not how to solve the problem.
As for why any business, and particularly dentists might have legal action taken against them, there are several reasons:
- Non-payment of due bills and debts
- Breach of contract
- Misleading patients or other businesses
- Infringement of intellectual property rights
- Employees claiming discrimination or unfair/unlawful dismissal
- Professional negligence
- Public liability
There are many others besides these, and within each of the above examples, there will be specific circumstances that exist. In terms of what you should do if someone takes your dental practice or you as an individual to court, we have three extremely important tips for you which are explained below. These tips can both help you if someone does take legal action against you, but also act to prevent it from ever happening in the first place.
Make Sure You Have Professional Legal Representation
Just as you are the professional whom patients trust and rely upon to give sound advice concerning their dental health, your lawyer has that same role when it comes to legal matters. That is why we recommend that you have a lawyer or lawyers on retention. It may be that they never have to represent you in court but just in case it is required, you want the best available. Your lawyer can also act so that any legal action taken can be stopped long before it ever gets to court.
Actively Take Steps To Prevent Legal Cases
As a dentist, you will stand by the mantra that preventing dental health problems with good oral hygiene is better than having to treat them. That same philosophy exists when it comes to preventing legal action rather than having to fight it. That means that the day to day operation of your dental practice should have systems and procedures in place to ensure nothing can ever get as far as a legal case.
Examples of how you achieve this include ensuring staff are fully trained, that patient care is the top priority, that all bills are paid on time, that your terms and conditions are clear and legally watertight. Another positive action is to make it a goal that any patient complaints are handled quickly, professionally, and courteously.
Take Out Appropriate Insurance Policies
No matter the precautions are taken and how professional you are, the possibility exists that you are taken to court and lose the case. This does not make you any less a dentist, but it can dimmish your business’s finances severely. This is why insurance policies are essential to protect your business from financial penalties resulting from legal action. They can literally save your business with policies available for workplace accidents, public liability, and even negligence, for example.