It’s not my fault although it might be: chiropractic practice and vicarious liability

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Abstract

Background: While chiropractic care is most commonly provided within a private practice context, the ‘traditional’ solo practice is now uncommon. Chiropractors, manual therapists and related health professionals commonly work within the same practice bringing obvious advantages to both the practitioners and their patients. However, multi-practitioner, multi-disciplinary clinics also carry often unrecognized liabilities. We refer here to vicarious liability and non-delegable duties. Vicarious liability refers to the strict liability imposed on one person for the negligent acts of another person. The typical example is an employer being held vicariously liable to the negligent acts of an employee. However, vicarious liability can arise outside of the employer-employee relationship. For example, under non-delegable duty provisions, an entity owing a non-delegable duty can be liable for an independent contractor’s wrongdoing. After a plain English explanation of this complex area of law, we provide seven scenarios to demonstrate how vicarious liability can envelop practice principals when things go wrong. We also make suggestions for risk mitigation. Conclusion: Practice owners may unexpectedly find themselves legally liable for another’s actions with dire consequences. A knowledge of vicarious liability along with implementing risk mitigation strategies has the potential to minimize the likelihood of this unwanted event. Recommendations are made to this end.

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Simpson, J. K., & Innes, S. (2021, December 1). It’s not my fault although it might be: chiropractic practice and vicarious liability. Chiropractic and Manual Therapies. BioMed Central Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12998-021-00379-0

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