PROFESSIONAL NEGLIGENCE: Definition, Types, Examples, and Guide

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Businesses rely on professionals to provide expert advice on a specific subject because they are assumed to have the qualifications and knowledge to provide the answers you require. As a result, professionals are expected to exercise reasonable skills and care in their field. However, because of this reliance on specific consulting, there is a risk that incorrect advice from a third party will result in loss and unwelcome consequences for you or your business. In such cases, you may be able to recover the losses incurred as a result of professional negligence. So, let’s take a look at the different types and examples of professional negligence in the following professions: construction, lawyers, and medical practice.

What is Professional Negligence?

Professional negligence occurs when a professional (lawyers, insurance brokers, accountants, architects, realtors, financial advisors, and so on) fails to perform the professional duties or obligations that their clients hired them to perform. When someone agrees to perform professional services for someone else who requires them, the hired professional must use “reasonable care” in doing so.

Reasonable care is defined as “the degree of caution and concern for one’s own and others’ safety that an ordinarily prudent and rational person would exercise in the same circumstances.”

To avoid a claim of professional negligence, the professional must follow the same standard of care as well-qualified professionals acting in similar circumstances. When a claim of professional negligence is filed, two methods are typically used to determine whether the reasonable duty of care was met: foreseeability tests and multifactor tests.

Foreseeability tests are used to determine whether the professional could have reasonably predicted that their actions, or lack thereof, would cause the client harm or loss. To determine a professional’s duty of care, multifactor tests consider several factors, including:

  • The extent of the harm
  • Whether the professional could have taken a different course of action.
  • The cost of a different course of action
  • Whether other, safer or less harmful options exist,

The claim must be supported by evidence that the service provided fell short of the expected standards of the profession. The service must also have had obvious negative consequences, such as financial losses, property damage, or injury to the client or customer. If the claimant cannot demonstrate concrete damages as a result of the professional’s actions, they will be unable to assert negligence.

Examples of Professional Negligence

Because there are numerous professionals and industries, there are numerous examples and standards of professional negligence. The most common examples of professional negligence are as follows.

#1. Medical Malpractice

One of the most well-known professional negligence claims involves medical practice. This typically affects doctors, registered nurses, nurse practitioners, dentists, and oral surgeons who are in charge of a patient’s care. Negligence may include any of the following:

  • Diagnosis failure or missed diagnosis
  • Administering the incorrect medication ended up causing injury or death.
  • Defective surgical procedures that result in injury or death
  • Recommending and performing unnecessary surgery
  • Misinterpreting laboratory results such as bloodwork or imaging scans

#2. Architectural and Engineering Errors

Architects and engineers are well-known for designing and constructing homes and commercial buildings. A negligent act can have far-reaching financial consequences for the property’s owners. The following are examples of common professional negligence practices in the construction industry:

  • Incompatibility between plans and the building code
  • House additions that don’t have a solid foundation
  • Improper demolition and reconstruction of a house

#3. Accounting Errors

People and businesses hire accountants to keep an eye on their books and make sure they are financially healthy. When an accountant performs haphazardly and provides poor advice, the client may:

  • Experiencing large tax bills
  • Being penalized
  • Being fined and audited by the tax authorities
  • Failure to take advantage of tax breaks
  • Inadequate financial projections

#4. IT (Information Technology) Errors

Organizations hire IT professionals to secure their IT infrastructure and networks. However, poor work on something of this magnitude can result in the following:

  • Inadequate data security
  • Viruses
  • Cyberthreats
  • Violations
  • Computer hacking

Poor IT infrastructure can cost businesses millions of dollars. Those who fail to perform their duties may be sued for breach of contract and professional negligence.

When their clients find just cause for their claims, lawyers can be sued for breach of duty or professional negligence. When a person passes the bar, it does not mean they are immune to legal action. Examples of professional negligence legal claims include the following:

  • Improper legal advice
  • Breach of client confidentiality
  • Failure to meet filing deadlines, resulting in a client’s claim being denied

#6. Conveyancer Error

When buying a home, a conveyancer or surveyor may overlook important information. As a result, the property value suffers significantly. Someone may end up paying too much or too little, resulting in a loss of money.

This is far from an exhaustive list of examples, but as you can see, there are numerous ways for a professional to neglect their responsibilities. This could be intentional or unintentional, but the outcome is the same. The victim may be compensated for their losses if they paid professional fees for industry-accepted results.

Types of Professional Negligence

Professional negligence claims can be brought against professionals in different types of industries, including construction, lawyers, and medical practices, among others. In general, each industry has its own regulatory body whose primary goal is to protect the public by establishing a Code of Conduct that those industries must follow to provide a professional service.

The following industries have experienced professional negligence claims, but this is not an exhaustive list.

  • Barristers, solicitors, and lawyers
  • Architects, engineers, and construction contractors
  • Scientists
  • Accountants and financial advisors
  • Insurance brokers
  • Surgeons and doctors
  • Estate agents, valuers, and surveyors

Most professionals are bound by codes of conduct or best practices established by their relevant regulator or industry group, such as the Solicitors Regulation Authority, in addition to their broader legal obligations.

Professional Negligence in Construction

Anyone working on construction projects, whether the lead architect or a construction site manager, is responsible for ensuring that work is done safely and professionally. Things can go wrong, but if a duty of care has been breached due to the negligence of a construction industry professional, you may be entitled to compensation.

In this section, we will discuss when professionals one can sue the construction industry for professional negligence.

What Is Construction Industry Professional Negligence?

In the construction industry, professional negligence occurs when a qualified, certified, or skilled individual or organization breaches their duty of care to a client. A breach of care can occur when a professional breaches a contract, disregards health and safety laws, or fails to perform work to a high standard. Professional negligence in the construction industry can be seen from the initial design stage of a building project through to the actual construction work.

If a client suffers injuries, damages, or financial loss as a direct result of professional negligence, they may be entitled to compensation by filing a claim. Four elements must be proven for this claim to be successful:

  • That a professional in the construction industry owed their client a duty of care.
  • That the professional failed to fulfill his or her duty of care.
  • That the client suffered physical or financial harm.
  • That those damages were the direct result of the construction industry professional’s negligence

Who Is Liable in the Construction Industry for Professional Negligence?

In the construction industry, there are many different kinds of professionals, and you can hold all of them responsible for the mistakes they make. These are some examples:

  • Architects
  • Surveyors
  • Engineers
  • Managers of projects
  • Contractors

Professional negligence cases in the construction industry can be difficult to prove, owing to the complexities of a building project. A legal team’s main challenge is deciding whom to pursue a claim against because it’s not always clear who is directly responsible when something goes wrong.

For example, if a new-build home is sold to a buyer who later discovers that the brickwork is defective, the buyer may seek compensation for the cost of repairing the problem as well as any loss in market value that results.

As a result, before attempting to file a claim against a professional construction industry, you must seek expert legal counsel.

Professional Negligence in Medical Practice

Negligence in medical practice is defined as a healthcare professional’s negligent, improper, or unskilled treatment of a patient. This can include carelessness on the part of a nurse, physician, surgeon, pharmacist, dentist, or other health care worker. Most medical malpractice claims where the victim claims injury from medical treatment are based on professional negligence in medical practice.

Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, other medical professionals, or a healthcare organization fails to meet the standard of care when supervising, diagnosing, or treating a patient, resulting in injury. This departure from the standard duty of care demanded of all medical professionals usually stems from an act of negligence.

What Are Some Common Examples of Professional Negligence in Medical Practice?

Professional negligence in medical practice examples include:

  • Improper medication administration.
  • Performing the incorrect or ineffective type of surgery.
  • Giving incorrect medical advice
  • Leaving foreign objects in the body of the patient (such as a sponge or bandage after surgery).

Failed surgeries happen when a surgeon makes a surgical error. A surgical error is a mistake that could have been avoided during surgery. Any surgery carries some risk, and patients are usually required to sign an informed consent form, admitting that they are aware of the risks. Mistakes that result in a failed surgery are beyond what a patient was aware of before agreeing to the procedure.

Lawyers Professional Negligence

The law governing professional duties owed to their clients is constantly evolving, necessitating the need for high-quality professional negligence advice.

Professional negligence lawyers are known for their diligence and tenacity, which results in favorable outcomes for their clients. Professional negligence lawyers should have extensive experience working with businesses, major financial institutions, and individuals pursuing claims against a wide range of professionals.

Should also be capable of defending leading professionals against claims and advising them on risk and insurance issues, such as professional indemnity and directors’ and officers’ liability insurance.

Concentration areas

Professional negligence lawyers have the following areas of expertise:

  • Solicitors’ malpractice claims
  • Surveyors and valuers
  • Accountants and auditors
  • Claims against pension consultants and actuaries
  • Construction and engineering professionals
  • IT consultants face claims.
  • Indemnity insurance for professionals.
  • Insurance for directors and officers.

A qualified personal injury lawyer can advise you on your claim and help you file it with the court.

What are examples of professional negligence?

Professional negligence examples:

An engineer or architect who is in charge of constructing a structure that turns out to be unsafe. A lawyer who fails to provide services at the level expected of a reasonably competent attorney and causes the client harm.

What defines professional negligence?

Professional negligence occurs when a professional fails to perform their duties to the required standard.

What are the 4 types of negligence?

There are various types of negligence. While it may appear simple, the concept of negligence can be divided into four types: gross negligence, comparative negligence, contributory negligence, and vicarious negligence or vicarious liability.

What is the difference between negligence and professional negligence?

Ordinary negligence is when someone in the general public forgets, doesn’t do what they should, or acts recklessly. In business, professional negligence occurs.

How do you prove professional negligence?

Any claim for professional negligence must establish three things: (i) the professional owed the plaintiff a duty of care; (ii) the professional breached that duty; and (iii) the plaintiff suffered some kind of damage as a result of the violation.

How do you establish professional negligence?

It is necessary to demonstrate that the professional did not meet the standard of care owed. Negligence will be established only if the professional made an error in the same circumstances that no reasonable member of that profession would have made.

Professional Negligence FAQs

What are the elements of professional negligence?

To establish negligence, four “elements” must be proven: a duty, a breach of that duty, causation, and damages.

How do you prove professional negligence?

To succeed in a claim for professional negligence, the claimant must prove three basic elements: that the professional owed a duty of care, that they acted in breach of that duty, and that the breach caused the claimant loss.

What are the 5 steps of negligence?

You and your lawyer will need to prove the following five components of negligence in order to succeed in your case: duty, breach of duty, cause, in fact, proximate cause, and injury. A lawyer can help you determine if you have a valid claim, gather the necessary evidence, and present your case in a way that will lead to a favorable verdict and the compensation you deserve.

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