What is professional negligence? (And what can we do about it?)
If you have experienced harm because of the action (or lack of action) of a professional, you may have been the victim of professional negligence. But what is professional negligence?
Because this term is often used quite loosely – or in circumstances when it doesn’t actually apply under UK law.
Here is everything you need to know about professional negligence to start working out whether you might have a potential claim or if someone has a claim against you:
How Do I Know If I Have A Claim For Professional Negligence?
Professional negligence means that a certain type of “professional” person or organisation has failed in what is called their “duty of care” to one of their clients.
A “professional” is often defined as someone who is considered to have “expertise” in the service they are providing. A professional has to deliver that service to a certain standard – the standard that their client might reasonably expect. If they don’t, they may have “breached” that duty of care.
This goes beyond someone making a mistake in the workplace. In order to qualify as professional negligence, three things must be true:
1)The Professional Must Owe A “Duty Of Care”
A “duty of care” is a legal obligation to achieve a set standard of care in order to avoid “careless acts that could foreseeably harm others”.
Many types of professionals – including solicitors, accountants, financial advisors, architects, chartered surveyors, personal trainers, and many others – owe their clients a duty of care.
Many professionals have a duty of care that is already recognised in law. Establishing that a certain professional owed their client a duty of care is the first fact that must be proven if you want to claim professional negligence occurred.
2) They Must Have Breached That Duty Of Care
If the professional owed a duty of care to their client, it must be shown that they breached it.
This could be either by something they did (for example, give bad financial advice) or something they failed to do (for example, give no financial advice when they reasonably should have done).
3) That Breach Of Care Must Have Caused A Loss
Finally, the person making a claim of professional negligence must show that they suffered loss or damage as a result of that breach of duty of care.
This could be physical harm or it could be financial harm they would not otherwise have suffered if the breach did not happen.
What Is Professional Negligence? Some Examples
Those rules are all very well, but the actual circumstances that professional negligence laws cover are so broad that they can be difficult to picture. They cover numerous situations in a wide range of industries.
Let’s take a look at some hypothetical examples of the kind of circumstances that could qualify as professional negligence:
- Solicitor – if a solicitor drew up a will incorrectly and their client missed out on inheritance.
- Personal trainer – if a personal trainer failed to enquire as to previous injuries and their client was injured during their workout.
- Charted surveyor – if a surveyor failed to identify structural problems in a building that later needed to be rectified at great cost or caused injury or damage.
What Is The Difference Between Negligence And Professional Negligence?
Negligence, in legal terms, covers a wide range of areas. It means that someone had some kind of duty towards someone else and they managed to breach or fail to uphold it.
Professional negligence is one of these areas. If you hire a “professional”, you expect them to deliver services of a certain standard. They have that “duty of care” towards you.
There are several other key areas of negligence law. One of the most important is the specific type covering healthcare professionals. This is called medical negligence and has its own subset of law.
Is Negligence A Professional Liability?
If you are a professional and negligence – that you have breached your duty of care – has been proven, you can be held professionally liable.
Depending on your industry, you may have to have insurance protection in place specifically because you are held to certain standards.
How Much Can I Claim For Professional Negligence?
There isn’t really an agreed amount for how much you can claim for professional negligence. The amount you might be due will likely be linked to the scale of the damage or loss that the professional’s breach of duty of care caused.
For instance, imagine you had received bad professional financial advice that caused you to miss out on tax relief for your business. As a result, you ended up overpaying tax. Any professional negligence claim would likely be set around the amount of tax you overpaid.
How Do I Make A Professional Negligence Claim?
Your first step should always be to seek expert legal advice as to the strengths of your case. It’s wise to consult at least a couple of specialists to get more than one opinion. But where do you start?
Let Solicitors Near Me find you the ideal friendly and approachable negligence solicitor near you for FREE and with no obligation to use their services afterwards.