Vicarious liability refers to a situation where someone is held responsible for the actions or omissions of another person. In a workplace context, an employer can be liable for the acts or omissions of its employees.
Employers and business owners benefit from vicarious liability cover as part of their AOP membership, subject to meeting the terms and conditions of the cover as set out below.
Frequently asked questions
1. Why do I need vicarious liability cover for my business?
An example of vicarious liability could be where a patient chooses to pursue a clinical negligence claim against the optometrist themselves or against the business that employed them - or indeed, as often happens, both the optometrist and the business.
It is also possible that an allegation of medical malpractice may be made against another member of staff such as a dispensing optician (DO), clinical assistant or receptionist, and again the patient may choose to proceed against the business - as lay members of staff will not usually have medical malpractice insurance the patient would realistically have to take the case against the business.
2. I'm an AOP member, is my practice covered for vicarious liability?
Yes, as long as all of the optometrist owners (this includes a sole proprietor, partners, shareholders and directors) of the business and all optometrists who are employed or engaged as locums are AOP members, your practice is covered under medical malpractice (clinical negligence) policy.
3. Do my DO employees also need to be members?
4. Is my practice covered for the work of the DOs?
5. Is my practice covered for the work of locums?
6. If I engage a locum and a claim comes in relating to their work after they stop working for me, will my business be covered?
7. What if an optometrist employee leaves and a claim is notified to my practice relating to an incident while they were employed by me - is the claim going to be covered?
8. What if none of the owners are optometrists?
Summary of conditions
All optometrist owners of the business must be AOP members
- Sole proprietors
For the avoidance of doubt, partners, directors or shareholders who are not optometrists do not need to be AOP members as long as all optometrist owners are AOP members. See above if there are no optometrist owners.
All employed or locum optometrists who work for the business need to be AOP members
If after leaving your business, they subsequently stop being AOP members the business' vicarious liability cover would not be affected provided the business continues to meet the requirements outlined.