As a dentist, you’re in your practice in order to help people. You want your patients to know the basics of good dental health and to have their teeth cared for regularly.
Unfortunately, sometimes things go wrong. And when things go wrong, you may face a lawsuit from your patient.
It doesn’t take much. Even a very trivial incident can cause someone to sue you for millions of dollars. Unfortunately, people see professionals like dentists as an easy mark to get money from in a lawsuit.
The good news is that there are steps you can take to protect your practice from a personal injury claim. Learn what to do below.
Have the Right Insurance Coverage
As a business, you need a variety of important insurance policies. There are two that are most vital for protection from personal injury claims.
Your general liability policy will help protect you against an injury claim not related to your professional services. Examples include someone tripping over a rug in your lobby or slipping on a wet floor in your entryway.
Your malpractice insurance is protection against personal injury claims that arise from the professional services you provide. Injuring a patient, failing to treat an issue properly, or making an error or omission related to treatment are all included.
The great thing about the insurance coverage is that the insurance company will help provide legal services related to a claim. People can sue for any reason, however frivolous, and you still have to defend yourself. The insurance company will either settle the case or defend you in court.
Help Prevent Non-Dental Accidents
Many dentists, as medical professionals, focus their concern on preventing medical accidents. That’s great–but it’s important to prevent non-dental issues as well.
Your lobby should be clean and uncluttered. If you have hard floors, make sure you have rugs and protection when it rains. Always have a Wet Floor sign available if needed.
Structural issues are important as well. Both inside and outside, parts of the building can become worn.
Pieces of the facade can fall off and injure someone. A piece of ceiling tile or an interior structure can do the same. If someone is injured, even slightly, you can expect a lawsuit.
If you maintain your property well and get regular building inspections, you can protect yourself from a lot of the liability surrounding your structure. This can help you to win personal injury lawsuits.
Help Prevent Dental Accidents
Most of the time, a dental office runs smoothly. The key to preventing dental accidents is to always follow the correct standard of care. This will also help you not be found liable for negligence.
No one comes to work planning to injure a patient or violate the standard procedures for care. However, there are a lot of things that can cause a slip-up.
To help prevent dental accidents, ensure that:
- All staff is trained and up-to-date on current standards of care.
- All staff has enough time between shifts to get adequate rest.
- All overtime or long shifts are carefully monitored to ensure quality care.
- Your staff takes real breaks and lunches.
- You and your fellow doctors also take enough breaks, lunches, and time off.
Getting tired or burnt out are major causes of dental care mishaps. You don’t want this to happen in your practice. Be sure that you get the mental and physical rest you need and that your staff does the same.
Know What to Do if You Face a Personal Injury Claim
Even if you’ve taken every possible precaution, you may face a personal injury claim. Knowing what to do in that case can help you rest easy knowing everything is under control.
The first step is to be careful what you say. You never want to say anything that could be interpreted as admitting fault. Something as simple as apologizing can be used against you in court.
Next, contact your insurer. Your insurer may be able to provide legal representation for you and handle the case going forward. If necessary, you can hire an attorney–make sure it’s one who specializes in the type of personal injury claim you’re facing.
You should also read more about how the plaintiff is likely to approach the case. Knowing the timeline the patient will pursue will help you know what to expect as you defend yourself from these claims.
You may want to take steps to protect your reputation as well. If the media approaches you about the incident, be sure to follow your lawyer’s advice. At the same time, be professional and don’t make a scene.
In the end, the work must go on in your practice. You need to bring in new patients and continue treatments. By staying calm throughout the process, you can keep your staff on an even keel as well.
Keep your head up and keep serving your patients!
Growing a Practice Is a Challenge
Like all dentists, you entered this field to do your best work and help people live more healthy lives. It can be frustrating when a personal injury claim threatens to derail your hard work.
Fortunately, you can do a lot to prevent claims yourself. By making sure your property is in good condition and that your offices are organized, you can prevent most non-dental injuries.
You can also prevent dental injuries by making sure that you and your employees are well trained, up-to-date, and well-rested.
If something unfortunate does happen, your insurance goes a long way to protect you. Often, they will provide legal representation and take care of all the details of the case. In the end, you can carry on knowing that your patients need what you do.
Interested in learning more about building the best practice possible? Check out more of our blog today!